**”We might have starved without \Red Mowies\”** – (a common reef species)
Blue Groper, inside North Head, Sydney Harbour, 21 July 1962
Len McLeod (above) was an apprentice plumber who won the title of AUSTRALIAN JUNIOR CHAMPION. The Sydney Sea Hunters was the only inner city club with members living from Glebe, Ultimo, Erskinville, Tempe – all poor suburbs in those times, today the exact opposite. The advised trend was to join a club close to where you lived.
There was a club meeting once per month where we exchanged information and techniques, decided where the outings would be held and voted on matters concerning all clubs.
Also once per month we’d have our own spear fishing competition held within the metro area of say 100km north or south of the city – usually much less.
Once per month there was the competition which involved all the Sydney clubs. A big event with results published in the monthly association publication Australian Skindivers Magazine a very fine effort by advertising guru Jack Evans.
In addition other competitions occurred during public holiday weekends, January, Easter, October and Christmas.
This was how we got together and learned from each other. The senior guys helping the juniors with advice. Enough boats were owned to carry all the members. It was expected that fuel costs would be shared by the passengers.
Today dive shops have replaced dive clubs. Nothing much is free. Diving is over-priced. Face masks that cost the importer $5 are retailed for over $100 and so on.
Where we did not have BCD’s (buoyancy vests) when using scuba and compensated for this by adjusting our weight belt and breathing accordingly – today a compulsory BCD costs over $1200 and is the most expensive item of all.
The split swim fin is marketed as producing more power. Not one fish in the ocean has a split tail fin. It’s a gimmick which allows poor athletics to appear equal to others.
Deep free divers in competition use the largest fins/flippers possible. Nothing with splits.
Club President, Bob Taylor is now retired and lives at Currarong in a beach front property. Bob would like Ken Campbell to make contact with him again to hear an important and interesting story and an apology. (Ken was last known to be living at Townsville where he was a book binder by trade).
Other members. Mike Melville is a professor at the University of New South Wales. Garry Flanagan often spear fishes at Hat Head NSW, Bruce Brown may still be involved in the fresh foods industry at Ermington, Sydney, John Tregaskes was involved with fresh seafood retailing. **Lee Kain** was in a similar business at Tully. North Queensland. Miss Kay Milburn was in a North Sydney advertising agency. Ken Hines, Jim Read whereabouts are unknown. Who knows the whereabouts of John Magill last known to be an accountant with Qantas.
My plywood boat with 40 horsepower Evinrude outboard was a standard outfit for pioneer diver-fishermen. Competitions concluded at 1pm so after the weigh-in and lunch we’d water ski.
This was Cornflakes a 14 foot long ply boat. The under floor planks were nailed (not riveted) and leaked badly. Cornflakes was also the pen-name for our club notes as published in the Australian Skindivers magazine. My introduction to freelance journalism.
The term cornflakes later went into popular use to describe large seaweed pieces underwater on the NSW north coast, seaweed which reduced our vision considerably.
Timber boats were replaced by aluminium and fibreglass versions. When this picture was taken at Sydney’s Barrenjoey (Palm Beach) the largest outboard made was 75 horsepower.