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.