Wednesday, 21 November 2012


Mulloway (Jewfish) speared on the Birchgrove Park, with scuba, by Wal Gibbins (St George Club) in 1969
Former advertising in Liverpool Street, Sydney.


Finding the sunken collier, Birchgrove Park miles off a northern Sydney beach and in some 55 meters of depth using just an echo sounder was no mean feat for Wally Gibbins and his dive partner Ken Bateman.
This was when echo sounders were scare in the early 1960′s and involved a lot of search time that paid off.
The iron propeller would have been a disappointment which is why it is still there. Picture shows a section of the Birchgrove Park prop in 1967

By 2008 much of the ship had collapsed as this video illustrates.

NSW State Championships, Currarong 1961

Bob Grounds - Port Hacking Penguins

Arthur Taylor - Eastern Suburbs 'White Water Wanderers'

Vic Ley aboard Riversong

Vic Ley - Eastern Suburbs club at Bloomfield Reef

Bob Grounds at Saumarez Reef 

Ron Taylor, St George club member at North West Island

Vic Ley, John Harding (with Mulloway) Ron Taylor, Arthur Taylor at Kirra Reef, 1964
Quintrex with 45 HP Mercury owned by Vic Ley
The spearfishing clubs lost many top members who turned to abalone diving from 1965

Friday, 10 August 2012


Brian Raison, Sans Souci Dolphins
(More about  Wal's nephew, Malcolm McLeod under "SALVAGE")
The late Trina Fleischman  at Seal Rocks, New South Wales.

Various friends in December 1963 - Kangaroo Island, South Australia for the Australian Championships.
Rodney Fox a few days after his stitches were removed.
Vic Ley aboard Riversong with his catch from 'The Fish Tail' region of North West Island.

Rodney on holiday at North Stradbroke Island, Queensland  in 1967

North Stradbroke Island (underwater) <Click

Australian champion spear fisherman Vic Ley with large flathead from Hat Head and (below) Vic (also known as "Snowie") boating a Mulloway speared near  Jibbon Bommie, Sydney.  Margret Peard admires the catch.

L-R  Robert Hatch, Frank Swinkles, George Davies - all with Newcaste Neptunes club at Seal Rocks, NSW.
George Davies 'Ode to Wally' appears at the end of this blog.

(Why I quit spear fishing competitions by Bob Grounds)

 by Robert E Grounds (above with Grey Nurse in 1968)

Bob Grounds replaced Wally on the Riversong trip to Saumarez Reef in 1964
appearing in "Slaughter at Saumarez" by Ron Taylor Film Productions

(Jack being a pioneer spear fishing diver of the 1950s and earlier)


Trina Fleischmann (in 1999)  former hired  baby sitter aboard BEVA when Wally and Ben Cropp were in The Solomon Islands and elsewhere, caring for Lynn Cropp's young family while Lynn worked in film production. Later in early 2013 Ben would sadly scatter Trina's ashes at Hope Island, north of Port Douglas, Queensland. Trina had become a lifelong friend who participated in a dozen film making expeditions with Ben and crew over three decades  (Other pictures of Trina at Seal Rocks blog:
John Harding and John Fairfax visit Wal at the Sunday market where he sold sea shells
John Harding shark photography

Fathom magazine  issue 3  page 27   (1971)
Dave Moran of New Zealand does a hard hat test dip.
 Ben Cropp's dinghy (driven by John Harding) accidentally ran over the large shark while following it for photography the aim being to use an underwater pole camera.  Surprisingly, the shark retaliated by biting and firmly holding onto the pontoon for several minutes. Usually if a shark is injured it will flee.  Initial ID was "tiger shark" later inquiries have suggested  a Lemon shark.  An Australian shark expert (with the CSIRO) could not ID the species from the still pictures except to say "it is not a tiger shark".

Trina Fleischmann inspecting the damage to Ben Cropp's dinghy - which has an aluminium hull, fortunately.
Ben Cropp was a part-owner of Marineland.  Ron Cox became the manager.

Note the penetrating possibility of a very sharp (barb-less) spear, sharpened into a triangular point.