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Soon afterwards professional abalone diving (and the wealth involved) became a greater priority than spear fishing competitions. Most of the leading Sydney divers went south.

By 1971 the **PADI** TM (Professional Association of Diving Instructors Pty Limited) scuba schools arrived with retail dive shops now running their own social dive clubs.

The original spear fishing clubs that were the foundation of diving activities were no longer the sole gateway to underwater.

Australians have entered world spear fishing competitions since but none has equaled the success that Ron Taylor archived in Tahiti in 1965.

Ron eventually became appalled at the waste of \rubbish fish\ involved with competition spear fishing and retired from all such competitions.


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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.


A still made at the time a sea snake encounter was recorded at Centennary Reef, The Swain Reefs.
A still made at the time a sea snake encounter was recorded at Centenary Reef, The Swain Reefs.   

1-1-sea snake 73

Tom Allen snake


The above  is Tom Allen – a reptile expert who was working with the Wild Kingdom TV crew when we made this still.  Tom Allen’s diving CV is amazing.

Ron Taylor text was published in 1964