Posts Tagged wally gibbins
Walter A. Starck, Vic Ley, Ron Taylor, Phil Eather,
Richard Weir, Wally Gibbins, Malcolm McLeod, Gai Girdlestone, John Harding.
Springvale Cemetary (Melbourne, Victoria)
Jewish Memorial Garden 2
Wally Muller, Van Laman-Cropp, Ben Cropp, Kathy Troutt, Lynn Roberts, John Michael Harding Senior, Bob Grounds, Dean Cropp – (a future Legend), Ron Taylor, Trevor Collins (with marlin), Valerie May Taylor, Henri J. Bource.
RON IBLE (White Water Wanderers club, Sydney) 30 April 2013 R.I.P. mate
Ron would not like a whole heap of pretty words – “a real good mate” would sum him up. Ron’s guidance and advice plus friendship to me, as a young starting-out aged 18 diver, set a course I’m forever thankful to him for. Although the following name won’t ring bells, Bill Colbourne introduced us when we all worked at the Sydney Markets. Ron Ible was a tough truck driver – as they all were then. Tough physical work that produced a physique similar to the axe-men at wood-chopping events. When Bill retired he went to live in the fishing village near Ron and his family. Two guys who gave me good advice at a time when kids like I was take things for granted. I recently thanked Ron – but regret not being able to do so for Bill who passed away soon after retiring.
Soon afterwards professional abalone diving (and the wealth involved) became a greater priority than spear fishing competitions. Most of the leading Sydney divers went south.
By 1971 the **PADI** TM (Professional Association of Diving Instructors Pty Limited) scuba schools arrived with retail dive shops now running their own social dive clubs.
The original spear fishing clubs that were the foundation of diving activities were no longer the sole gateway to underwater.
Australians have entered world spear fishing competitions since but none has equaled the success that Ron Taylor archived in Tahiti in 1965.
Ron eventually became appalled at the waste of \\rubbish fish\\ involved with competition spear fishing and retired from all such competitions.
One of the Australian spear fishing team to Tahiti (1965) – Wally Gibbins, shown walking ashore at a Palm Beach Alliman Shield competition in Sydney.
The large shoulder gun was to become Wal’s trade mark choice.
He told us the secret, when it was tucked under his arm it enabled faster left to right, or right to left following of a moving fish (than a pistol grip gun, which is commonly used). Some people were unable to load a Wally Gibbins shoulder gun.
From an era when fish were larger and more plentiful.
Wally medically disqualified himself from the Tahiti competition after blacking out during a deep pre competition practice free dive.
This left just Ron Taylor and Peter Kemp as the Australian competitors.
FOOTNOTE I bought my first speargun second hand from a kid at Annandale, Sydney. Reg Furtell and Graham Hoare were regular spear-o’s we knew from Jack’s Milk Bar (opposite the Royal Theatre) – and one of the few inner city suburbs to have a pin ball machine and juke box, a magnet that attracted leather jacketed bodgies on motor bikes.
The kids talked about a guy who knew everything about diving. It seemed impossible that anyone could be that good.
The guy they spoke about who regularly collected the pin ball machine money and was none other than Wally Gibbins.
I’d listened to Wally just once. His information seemed impossible to my young and inexperienced ears.
In reality Wally, then aged 29 was more advanced with his underwater experiences than anyone else in Sydney, in those times, summer 1959.
The coal carrier or collier BIRCHGROVE PARK sank during a storm and settled into 160 – 180 feet of water of Sydney’s northern beaches.
After much searching with just an echo sounder, the diving legend Wal Gibbins had located the wreck the previous year and so began one of the most exciting deeper dives available then using single 72 cu ft tanks and ordinary compressed air.
We’d do seven minutes on the bottom and then stage at ten feet until we ran out of air about three to five minutes later.
Sometimes we’d spear a fish – after exploring the wreck and just before heading back to the surface.
The good to eat Boarfish (pictured) was taken using a handspear – a less complicated method which avoided spearlines that could get snagged and lead to other problems.
Deep diving was not without hazards. Once I over-exerted myself while lifting our heavy anchor and chain that had become stuck in wreckage.
While surfacing vertigo set in, then I felt as though my assent rate was being dangerously exceeded – i.e. the feeling I had was that of rocketing fast toward the surface.
In actual fact the assent rate was probably one inch per second, not the six feet per second it felt like!
A rather dangerous error if there was no anchor line to feel and judge the correct speed.
Easy to imagine how other young divers, some with far to many lead weights, failed to surface at all.
On our dive we’d had a 2.5 meter white pointer shark swim-in to check-out the anchored boats just after we’d all left the water.
Bob ‘skippy’ Delander managed to get out fast with his tank still strapped to his back!
From above water it looked like a simple Grey Nurse, but with a face mask inspection a clear ID was made.
Scuba spear fishing was later banned. The logic was more to give reef fish (especially in the 60 to 100 foot zones) a sanctuary away from most free-divers.
Wally Gibbins discovered the habit of the rarest and most valueable sea shell in the world, in the Solomon Islands.
Soon after he had a price list circulated to museums around the world. Of the dozens, maybe hundreds of Gloria maris Wal collected, he kept this pair of extremities in size, which has become the real prize discoveries (with an incalcuable monetary value which might only be realised at auction).
At one time **the worlds’ rarest and most valueable sea shell** the conus \\Gloria Maris\\ or “Glory of the Sea”.
A keen shell collector with a memory for the latin names, Wal Gibbins discovered the previously unknown South Pacific habitat of this elusive prize in the Solomon Islands.
The shell liked deep dark water. Unlike some other cones this one can be found in daylight hours. Trouble was, the same territory (the entrance to rivers) was favoured by saltwater crocs and nearby sharks of all sizes inhabited the open water. This discouraged a lot of divers from looking there.
By late 1970 Wal has shocked the shell museums of the world with a price list that detailed specimens of many sizes.
A very rare shell in 1969, in good condition was worth $10,000 to a keen collector (in today’s adjusted values). In 1969 there were only 76 known specimens of \\Gloria Maris\\ which consisted mainly of dead specimens washed up on beaches in the Phillipines and New Guinea. Only three were known from the Solomons, but this was a good clue.
Diving had the ability to find perfect specimens. Wal discovered the habitat and found as many as 30 shells in one day, but usually just a couple. They were released onto the world market at half-price. But the prices dropped rapidly. Specimens were donated to three museums in Australia.
Pictured above is the smallest and the largest \\Gloria Maris\\ ever found by Wal, and therefore probably the two known extremes of size.
For some reason, the smaller shell seems rather cute and unique. The entire collection is therefore ‘priceless’ (not for sale).
What defined a \\good diver\\ in the early days was the ability to invent, design and improvise equipment. To be a \\good\\ diver it was advantageous to be also skilled with a lathe and other things. Most equipment was home-made from the 1950′s to 1970 and we all relied on friends for help or guidance or both.
The famous \\Sea Hornet\\ (trade mark) speargun trigger was a design from **Wally Gibbins.**
Pictured at home in Sawtell 1990 with the most popular regulator of the late 1950′s – the double hose Aqua Lung (trade mark) regulator – quieter and easier to breath from. Terrific for photographers as the exhaled air did not rumble past ears and eyes.
Footnote: Wal Gibbins worked in many Ben Cropp’s underwater documentaries around Australia, PNG and the Solomon Islands for two years full time. They share the same birthday, January 19th with a six year age diffference. Wally in 1930, Ben in 1936.
See his pictures and interviews: www.xanga.com/wallygibbins