Captain Wally Muller navigated using a sextant, the era pre GPS
Divers, John M Harding (senior) and Roy Bisson (on right)
This was the longest voyage undertaken by the famous charter boat in 1971. Newly launched the boat was 79′ in length and had accommodation for 16 divers (later reduced to 12), plus a crew of four.
The lure for such a voyage was shell collecting, a search for the rare volute thatcheri. Half the charter cost was paid by shell collectors. I was sponsored by a tabloid newspaper to write and photograph five stories that could be serialized over one week.
Text written especially for divers would be published in Fathom No.6 issue. Art director and diver, Roy Bisson being on the voyage.
From San Francisco the late Dewey Bergman (Sea and Sea Travel) was scouting on this voyage for what would become regular parties of American divers and underwater cameramen. The world was about to discover diving Australian style. The future voyages would not involve so much traveling time.
Marion Reef was the new inshore destination, still in The Coral Sea and today almost unvisited due to fuel cost considerations.
The Chesterfield Reef trip was our most memorable. Near perfect weather and a good crew of professional divers. For further information, including names of shipwrecks at Chesterfield Reef, see Wikipedia.org
Roy Bisson swim fins (flippers) were filmed simultaneously by my movie camera and another by Richard Ibara. This was Chesterfield Reef at it’s best. Grey Reef sharks were territorial with these displays as they probably had not encountered divers before.
**Maurie Vierow driving the dive boat, arriving at Julian Rocks **
The first we heard of \The Julian Rocks\ was a magazine feature in the Californian SKIN DIVER magazine, in 1962.
In those days we were based in Sydney and when traveling north there was an urgency to get to Tweed Heads ASAP.
Byron Bay was not on the common list of hot spots. The Julian Rocks often missed the blue current that was common further north at \Nine Mile Reef\, \Cook Island\ and especially \Flat Rock.\
Plus an abattoir at Byron was not a pleasant thought, the blue water seemed to pass well offshore often missing \The Julians.\
PEOPLE AT BYRON BAY: **Bill Silvester** saw a good potential and was first to establish a dive shop in town. **Bob Beale** and **John Heyer** were the next players, Bob is still in Byron, now with National Parks and Wildlife.
Maurie Vierow (pictured above, in 1981) is today a senior inspector with a state government department responsible for inspecting dive shop filling stations.
On the last dive I had with Maurie, (one of the few times I’ve been diving **without**an underwater camera), what amazing sight occurred did I miss getting on film? **A wobbegong shark eating a live sea snake!**
We now understand why there are not too many sea snakes in southern semi-tropical waters.
The venomous sea snakes get swept south in currents but don’t seem to last long.
Snakes have been noted washed ashore on Bondi Beach in rare examples.
Abalone collected elsewhere by this author and released into low-tide rock pools for future study by my good friend Tony Flook
Just beyond the rocks in the background is where a fatal shark attack occurred many years ago. The north entrance to Port Jackson (Sydney Harbor) is in the far left background.
ABALONE IN THE NEWS
The (Australian) Victorian Abalone Divers Association (VADA) wants the State Government to prevent poachers from spreading an abalone virus along the south west coast.
The Association’s Vincent Gannon says poachers have been close to areas where ganglioneuritis (the abalone virus) has been found.
The State Government has banned the collection of abalone along a 13-kilometer stretch of coast near Cape Otway to help stop the virus spreading further east..