Search This Blog

Thursday, 25 February 2016


At one stage blood donations was a regular once-per-month effort by a dozen USFA delegates.

 "After the USFA delegates meeting we'd all down down to the blood bank in York Street (Sydney) and each of us would  make a donation - every month". (John Sumner, April 2020)

The thought or risk of a shark bite was obviously a stronger thought in 1961 than it is in 2020 - or is it?

NOTE: in the early 1960s USFA members met at 'the blood bank' in Sydney to make the standard donation ONE PINT OF BLOOD.  
The thought of a shark bite being at any moment being on the mind of spearo's - and all swimmers.
Book 'Shark Attack' by W. Coppelson was a best seller which warned against swimming in quiet ocean waters on overcast summer days.  Good info.

The Shark Menace (1955)

Monday, 22 February 2016


Part 1 of 4  

Wet suit has shark logo indicating the era 1963.  Diver could be Bela Csidei - a wealthy businessman, and later an author.

Classic pose - probably a re-enactment as both hands are best placed on the speargun butt.
Crown-of-Thorns starfish - diver using hookah attached to BEVA*.
Boat named after Ben and Eva Cropp, *wife #2)

Possibly the Montague Island whale shark (1964) which made Ben a fortune in both documentary film and still picture publication exposures.  At the time it was the first whale shark encounter filmed in color and the first in Australia.


The Hungry Sea (Part 2)

Not a Maori Cod - more like a Coral trout.  Part 2 shows the struggle to eat and survive.  A couple of fish are wrongly ID'd by the narrator - close enough to not matter.  Film then goes into the small world of the reef with life and death struggles.  Editing technique is typical of the 1960s (pre video/digital). Movie lights mostly produced a red color underwater in this era.

The Hungry Sea  (Part 3)

The Hungry Sea  (Part 4 - final)

Thursday, 11 February 2016



CMAS World Championship Archives < Click

Ustica ITALY 1960
TEAM Ben Cropp, Dallas Field
RESULTS Ben Cropp 19th
Dallas Field 21st
Australian Team 9th

Almeria SPAIN 16th to 20th Aug, 1961

TEAM Dallas Field, Brian Stagg
RESULTS Brian Stagg 31st
Dallas Field 45th
Australian Team 16th  


Moorea TAHITI 1st to 7th Sep. 1965

TEAM Wal Gibbins, Peter Kemp and Ron Taylor
TEAM MANAGER Andris Lidums
RESULTS Ron Taylor 1st
Peter Kemp 8th
Australian Team 2nd

Caya Avalos CUBA 3rd to 10th Sept. 1967

TEAM John Black, Vic ley and Ron Taylor
TEAM MANAGER Andris Lidums accompanied by his wife Jani and children Ingrida and Andris Jnr.
RESULTS Vic Ley 17th
John Black 19th
Ron Taylor 21st

Vic Ley in 1967

Aeolian Islands ITALY 1969 Australia Did Not Compete

Iquique CHILE 1st to 6th  Sept. 1971

TEAM Allan Badger, Les Siemek and Geoff Skinner
RESERVE Laurie Gaudry
TEAM MANAGER George Davies with Merv Sheehan and Slim Ward assisting and accompanied by Peg Sheehan and Glenys Ward.
RESULTS Geoff Skinner 25th
Les Siemek 26th
Allan Badger 35th Allen broke a rib during practice and retired part way through the second day.
Australian Team 11th

Cadaques  SPAIN  June 1973

TEAM Selby Iles, Steve Stefanowicz and Brian Westnidge
RESERVE John Banks
TEAM MANAGER George Davies with Slim Ward assisting accompanied by Glenys Ward.
RESULTS Steve Stefanowicz 30th
Brian Westnidge 41st
Selby iles 44th

Paracas PERU 23rd to 28th Nov. 1975
TEAM Richard Weir, Syd Harvey and Barry Paxman
RESERVE Graham Anderton
TEAM MANAGER George Davies
RESULTS Richard Weir 21st
Syd Harvey 27th
Barry Paxman Fished 1st Day Only
Graham Anderton Fished 2nd Day Only.
Australian Team 12th 

Ilo PERU 15th to 19th Nov. 1994
TEAM Mark Colys, Greg Pickering and Rob Torelli
RESERVES Gunther Pfrengle, Glenn Howlett
RESULTS Mark Colys 14th
Rob Torelli 21st
Greg Pickering 28th
Australian Team 8th (Top placed English speaking team)

CMAS World Championship Archives < Click

Gijon SPAIN 27th to 29th Sept. 1996
TEAM Andrew Ruddock,  Robert Torelli, Ian Puckeridge
RESERVES Adam Smith, Gunther Pfrengle, Reinhardt Strauss
TEAM MANAGER Merv Sheehan, Mick Carey
RESULTS Ian Puckeridge 24th
Rob Torelli 40th
Andy Ruddock 52nd
Australian Team 12th

(Thanks  Mel Brown for this information)

Monday, 8 February 2016

USFA (Sydney) MEMBERS 1960s

Dave Rowling (1962)

  Ted Louis
Add caption

Alan Badger (1971)  
Former australian-skin-and-scuba-diving-periodicals

John Barlow (Port Hacking Penguins) used a Sea Hornet gas gun at Seal Rocks NSW (1964)

Dusky morwong (chewed) Kangaroo Island, South Australia (1963)

George Davies at a weigh-in.  Kangaroo Island, South Australia (1963)

Col Boomer and friend.  Kangaroo Island, South Oz (1963)

 Ron and Val Taylor (on honeymoon) December 1963, Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Ron Taylor with Cobia (Black kingfish) Man and Wife Rocks, Yeppoon, Queensland  (1964)

 Bob Grounds (Port Hacking) near Marley (1965)

Nice day at Long Reef, Sydney (8 September 1962)

Tuna speared during an Alliman Shield comp, (unknown diver) Wattamolla 1964
Clarke Espie   Ab diver at Mallacoota VIC. (1964 spearo The Swain Reefs).

Len McLeod Sydney Sea Hunters, North Head, Sydney (21 July 1962)
Brian 'Bruno' McKenna (introduced Valerie to her future husband Ron Taylor)

 Merimbula Lake NSW 1962  John M Harding  (senior)

John M Harding of Sydney Sea Hunters at his pub in Glebe (1955)

Len McLeod (Sydney Sea Hunters)  Currarong state titles 1962

 Ron Taylor (St George) North West Island 1963
Sydney USFA divers on holiday Heron Island (1958)
L-R John Gallagher, Ron Taylor, Les Price, Mal Saunders, Ted Louis - (Wally Gibbins  missing).

Vic Ley (White Water Wanderers) Ex-Broomfield Reef 1963 - the first large Maori Wrasse of the era.  Also one of Valerie Taylor's first underwater pictures (taken with John Harding's Calypso).  Fish was speared on the last day of a trip aboard Riversong.  Kept in the freezer and photographed underwater next morning at Kopple Island on the way home.  John Harding was confined to bed with 'coral poisoning' in his leg a result of untreated scratches and fish handling residue.

Sunday, 7 February 2016


(THIS ENTRY Under construction - please click refresh button on your computer  when returning)

Ben and Van Cropp in South Australia (1963).  Brian Rodger in track suit, Peter Kemp at right.

Australian champion, winning at Phillip Island, Victoria in 1959-1960.  One point behind Ron Taylor the following year at Currarong, New South Wales.

Competed in two World Championships Malta (1959), as a one man entry in the teams reaching 11th place out of 30.

Sicily, Italy (1960) reaching 19th in the open out of 45 competitors.

Returned to Australia and won the Australian Championship in Victoria 1959-1960.

Pictures: Ben at right with Tweed Heads aces, Tommy Thomas and Ron Cox (manager of Jack Evans Pet Porpoise Pool and later Marineland.  Single picture, Ben aged 25 checks his Mako spearhead with 1/4" threat, later converted to 5/16th for strength.

Temporary video below, recorded in 2003, to be replaced with something from 1960s.  At right a short video showing equipment being used in southern Queensland in 1961

Add caption

CLICK OLDER POST (below right) 
to continue with new stories.