Thursday, 3 December 2015


Wally Gibbins cover shots (above). Tiger shark (left) from Sykes Reef ( Capricorn and Bunker Group 1963) - spotted first by John Gallagher. Larger 10 gauge shotgun powerhead euthanased specimen for 'scientific research' i.e. a powerhead could be used on large sharks successfully, if and when required, in defense. (Such as in a shipwreck lifeboat scenario - the Caucom Family Incident offshore Yeppoon, Qld comes to mind. No powerhead available in that tragedy where large Tiger sharks found a small drifting aluminium lifeboat with three occupants, possibly shouting at times, possibly urinating into the sea also, after a considerable time to evaluate any danger or hazard to them. tipped the vessel over in rough sea conditions then quickly 'took' two of the three occupants).

The single survivor was able to reveal these details.  A sudden storm had capsized their larger vessel.

The Grey Nurse picture was at Long Reef, Sydney.


Friday, 2 October 2015


Reg Thomas of Don Tas diving and salvage company, Honiara, Solomon Islands (in 1987).  Base, now back in Australia with wife and business partner Helen.   Reflecting today on his 101 near-death experiences underwater.d in The Solomon Islands during thirty years working with explosive and war era shipwrecks in deep water.

Stern section of Ruanui wreck is about 120 feet deep. Crissie Craka with Don Tas crew.

How the EU punishes fishing nation violators. Shark fins etc.

The Solomon Islands sells fishing rights to foreign ships.  (Above news item involves a shark fin incident in PNG during August 2015).
Chinatown before riots destroyed buildings.
Xyuru Maru - salvaged by Reg Thomas and towed back to Japan by his tug.

Wally Gibbins' nephew, Malcolm McLeod in the RAN hospital (Balmoral, Sydney) after re compression treatment for 'the bends' suffered while helping his uncle salvage dive in The Solomon Islands.

Malcolm was to later marry a nurse he met while being treated.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

HMS PANDORA wrecked 1779

Wally Gibbins was one of the Ben Cropp, crew but it was his cousin, Ron Bell who was first on the shipwreck site about 110 feet deep.

The location of the wreck of the Pandora was first pin-pointed in November 1977 by a RAAF P-2V Neptune which dropped a flare where it had detected the magnetic anomaly caused by the wreck; the wreck was subsequently sighted by a diver called Ron Bell, working with documentary filmmaker Ben Cropp. On that day under the radio guidance of Ben Cropp, searchers on the ground were initially unsuccessful in pinpointing the wreck at an expected location. Also on that day a second documentary filmmaker team, led by Steve Domm, joined the search. After the wreck site was located on the following day, it was immediately declared a protected site under the Australian Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976, Messrs.Cropp and Domm sharing the maximum reward payable under that legislation. It is located approximately 5 km north-west of Moulter Cay 11°23′S 143°59′ECoordinates11°23′S 143°59′Eon the outer Great Barrier Reef, approximately 140 km east of Cape York, on the edge of the Coral Sea.
The Queensland Museum has been excavating the wreck according to a research design. Archaeologists and historians at the Museum of Tropical Queensland are still gradually fitting together pieces of the Pandora story puzzle, using the archaeological evidence as well as the extant historical evidence. A large collection of artefacts is on display at the museum.
In the course of nine seasons of excavation during the 1980s and 1990s, the museum's marine archaeological teams established that approximately 30% of the hull is preserved as a more or less intact structure (Gesner,2000:39ff) The vessel came to rest at a depth of between 30 and 33 m on a gently sloping sandy bottom, slightly inclined to starboard; consequently more of the starboard side has been preserved than the port side of the hull. Approximately one third of the overburden in which the wreck is buried has been excavated by the Queensland Museum to date; it is estimated that the remainder to be excavated amounts to approximately 350 m³. This would probably require at least another ten full-blown seasons of excavation – assuming a similar methodology and level of technology is used as on previous museum expeditions. If an expedition were to be mounted from the 2008–09 summer – and subsequently at a rate of one excavation per summer (until 2017–18) – it is estimated that at least A$9.5 million would be required to complete ten seasons of fieldwork. Additional funds (approximately between $450,000 and $550,000 p/a) would also be required to provide for salaries of at least four additional full-time, 'back-of-house' professional contract positions at the museum, until at least 2020.
For strategic and financial reasons, there are no plans to continue excavation in the foreseeable future. However, if the Queensland Museum were to continue excavation, priority would be given to the area under the stern and to the bow section of the wreck; especially to the various petty officers' storerooms that were erected in the bow at platform deck level in vessels of the Pandora's design. In addition to exposing professional and personal items belonging to the ordinary sailors and to such crew members as the carpenter and the boatswain, the forward storerooms are expected to contain a range of extra spare stores and fittings which the Pandora was carrying in anticipation of the need to refit the Bounty after her recapture. (FROM EN.WIKIPEDIA - PANDORA 1779)

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Saturday, 4 January 2014


"Rocks from the erupting volcano at sea were passing overhead at one stage" said Captain Wally Muller - who had his similar picture (of the boiling sea) published in National Geographic Magazine.  'Parasites' on tiger shark are of course, sucker fish (remora).

Captain Wally G Muller of TSMV Coralita (1971)

Great Barrier Reefs named after Captains Ron Isbell,
Captain Wally Muller, and cameraman Ron Taylor.

Wally Muller’s dedication to exploring The Swain Reefs and The Coral Sea reef waters has placed him in local reef history and international diving history as one of the most  committed Great Barrier Reef 20th century pioneers.
Wally was born on 18 July 1930 at Blackall, Queensland. He was a boarder at Rockhampton Boys Grammar School and was a brilliant long distance swimmer.
From 1948, Wally made his name in the fishing industry as the only person to commercially fish on the Swains Reefs. He also introduced the art of filleting fish at sea and freezing fillets in a 4000 pound holding freezer so he could stay out longer especially if the weather turned too rough for the return voyage.
Wally was contracted by USA's Gulf Oil  in 1964 when they were making the first aerial maps of The Swain Reefs for future oil searching. He also navigated the seismic ship that mapped the coastline of New Zealand looking for oil.
Three boats: Wally’s beloved first boat was 43 foot and lugger-style called  Riversong and his second was 60 foot Careelah followed by the purpose built 79 foot TSMV Coralita,  in 1969. (Norman R Wright boat builders, Brisbane).  Coralita immediately had a high pressure air compressor fitted (the first live-aboard to do this in Australia) enabling charters by   USA scuba travel agencies (Sea and See, Bay Travel and La Mer Diving Safari)  for diving and underwater photography especially in  The Swain Reefs and The Coral Sea.
VIP: Coralita was chartered by the Federal Government for a VIP trip in the Capricorn and Bunker Group for a visiting overseas leader in 1972.
Family: Wally had two sons, Walter (known as Roy) and Alexander, who grew up on the water in the Capricorn region. Both became professional fishermen and expert divers appearing in documentary films by Ron and Valerie Taylor.
1950s: Many of The Swain Reef original names were given to them by Wally. The naming of one particular reef has became a much loved and retold local story:
“One day, after Wally had finished  fishing, he was  sailing back to a good anchorage for the evening in the Swains area. Suddenly, he ran past a reef that was not spotted previously and Wally didn’t realise was there. Wally said “Where did that  come from?… it’s a real mystery" that’s how Mystery Reef was named!"
Contract work: Other charters were to New Guinea and the dangerous Fly River (for the OK Tedi mine company) and to ' pirate infested' waters of the Celebes.
Saving ship and crew: On two occasions Wally ran diving charters to Middleton Reef in the southern section of The Coral Sea east of Coffs Harbour, New South Wales in the hope of avoiding cyclones that were regular in Queensland.  On both voyages to Middleton Reef, Coralita encountered a cyclone. (Named Ulan and later a larger cyclonme named Colin) In order to save Coralita, Wally salvaged a giant iron anchor from a nearby historic shipwreck and lashed his own ships' anchor to the old larger one.  This was necessary due to shallow water in the lagoon at Middleton Reef.
Inspiration: Wally Muller's nautical hero was the British naval explorer Matthew Flinders who had chartered reefs in The Coral Sea.  Wally had a personal quest to locate the same reefs using only his sextant and his own navigational skills as this was the era prior to GPS.
Rare shells: Also a keen shell collector, Wally would dive at night under Coralita to locate  live shells such as  Voluta thatcheri (at Chesterfield Reef French Territory of the Pacific) and Voluta perplicata at Lihou Reef also in The Coral Sea.
Movie work: Wally was also popular with Hollywood film crews seeking sharks for movies such as "Sharks Treasure"  "The Deep" and several major TV documentaries.  A favourite location became "Dynamite Pass" at Marion Reef where crystal clear water and an abundance of Grey Reef sharks was guaranteed.
Film career: Wally's first appearance as a dory fisherman and diver aboard Riversong is highlighted  in the 26 minute color documentary by Ron Taylor's "Saumarez Reef" (1964) which  shows a visit aboard the stranded 7,196 ton Liberty shipwreck US Francis Preston Blair on Saumarez Reef.

Mullers Reef 21-173 was formally named after Wally Muller by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on 1 November 2007.
 Wally Muller at Lihou Reef (1986)

Tuesday, 26 November 2013



(via John Sumner) "Yesterday I had a phone call from Maritime Safety Queensland to say that MR WALLY has sunk in the Mary River, Maryborough, and they wanted to find out who owns it currently so that it can be removed".

Note: Mr. Wally was the former prawn trawler Bali Hai - purchased by John Sumner
 and Wally Gibbins for proposed adventures in The Solomon Islands. 

Bali Hai renamed Mr Wally by John Sumner and Wally Gibbins for intended salvage projects in the Solomon Islands.  The project ran out of cash and the boat was sold.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013


The above screen shot is the opening of a scene that runs at 6.0 to 9.0 seconds in from the start.  In the above still shot John Gallagher (third from far right) adjusting his Bolex 16mm movie camera.  This three second sequence would be from Ron Taylor's 16mm camera.  This was Heron Island during the divers festival in November 1963.  Wally Gibbins ashore with an 11 foot Tiger shark brought back from Sykes Reef where he'd shot it with a 10 gauge powerhead (a larger cartridge size than a 12 gauge).

Longer same scene is also near the end of this French language sharks documentary  at 1.22.50 which was broadcast 24 September 2013.

New footage of sharks in slow motion.  See SHARKS DREAM: Marine videos - carefully chosen.  <Click

Friday, 19 July 2013


Underwater Spear Fisherman's Association  (USFA) was formed at a meeting held (probably after a dive) at Long Reef, Sydney in 1947.  Wally Gibbins would have been aged seventeen then and we can assume was in the group.

Bill Heffernan was 'an old guy' almost aged 40  and a friend with Dick Charles - the founding president of the association.

The old guys helped new members in those days. Kerry Heffernan was there too as a baby, age THREE and a paid-up member number 15 of the USFA - the youngest ever.

Kerry Heffernan provided this booklet of his father's equipment. (to be REFRESH or reload on your browser when returning later).

The USFA today <Click

Thursday, 16 May 2013


Gloria maris was once an extremely rare and valuable sea shell. Smallest and largest specimens.

Gloria maris collection - smallest and largest specimens.

Memoirs at private museum, often displayed at the Jetty Market on Sunday.

 Golden cowries
Spear fishing club T-shirt


Port Jackson (shark) eggs recovered.