WALLY GIBBINS PICTORIAL HISTORY

Proposed highly publicized shark fight (and one million dollars prize to Wally) did not eventuate. Promoter died suddenly amid world-wide protests of cruelty. This was at the height of JAWS media fever.

Wally Gibbins working in Sydney Harbour 1960  (WG Collection)

 

Wally Gibbins and the bell he salvaged from SS Yongala
Wally Gibbins and the bell he salvaged from SS Yongala while working with Ben Cropp on a television documentary.  Bell is in a Townsville Qld. museum today.  Picture by JH Harding

 

Twin hose regular was Wal's choice, always.
Twin hose reg was Wal’s choice, always. (1990).

Pictured at home in Sawtell 1990 with the most popular regulator of the late 1950’s – the double hose Aqua Lung (trade mark) regulator – quieter and easier to breathe from. Terrific for photographers as the exhaled air did not rumble passed ears and eyes.

The big speargun.  Wally at a Palm Beach, Sydney competition in 1972

Wally picture by Jeff Carter.  Stunning image from the 1950s.

The smallest and largest Gloria maris found by Wal in the Solomon Islands

The Chesty Bond trophy for largest fish, (1950s).  Chesty Bond was a comic strip hero character in a newspaper.

Tiger shark brought back to  Heron Island from nearby Sykes Reef (1963)

Wally was the Host Diver during more than one diver’s convention at Heron Island. He’d take his own five meter boat from Sydney to Gladstone by trailer then motor it out to the island.

Wally’s boat in Botany Bay NSW

Wally Gibbins had his boat at Heron Island (1963)  Ron Taylor’s Skindiving Paradise – made and later sold to  the Queensland Government Tourist Bureau – recorded during the November divers rally over two or more years.

The short documentary is the first color film by Ron Taylor.

 

Brown Spotted Cod and Queensland Groper seem to be the bulk of this catch. There would be a few coral trout in that pile. The large fish with Wally on the left is a Queensland Groper.

When the island kitchen required seafood one morning they asked Wally to “spear them a few fish”.

In his typical manner, Wally (with mate Warner Power)  went to work with their guns, over-reacting with far too many fish for a bit of humor.

Alan Power diving (1963) from Ron Taylor’s  Skindiving Paradise (1965)

 

The Last PictureWally Gibbins at Coffs Harbour’s Sunday markets  –  9 July 2006

 

A possible victim of Severe Depression Virus was the late Jacques Mayol who made a personal serious decision to leave this world on Dec 23, 2001 in Italy.

John Sumner, Jacques Mayol and Wally Gibbins (2000)

Jacques Mayol (centre) with Australia’s shipwrecks expert John Sumner (left) and Australia’s legendary diver Wally Hamilton Gibbins in 2000 at Las Vegas, USA discussing the “Mr Wally Expedition” to the Solomon Islands, among other things, including Hollywood movies.

The cult movie The Big Blue (1988) was based on the free diving skills and rivalry between Jacques Mayol and his mate Enzo Maiorca.

Jacques was born in Shanghai to French parents. An exciting time for his conception. The city is described then as: Whore of the orient, Paris of the east, city of quick riches, ill-gotten gains and fortunes lost on the tumble of dice; the domain of adventurers, gamblers, swindlers, drug runners, idle rich, dandies, tycoons, missionaries, gangsters and back street pimps – Shanghai 1927″. Lonely Planet CHINA.

Jacques Mayol learned to freedive in Japan at age 15. His inspiration to become a world record breath-holding free diver was sparked while watching semi-nude women descend 75 feet without flippers (aka fins) to collect pearl shell oysters.

Later his father was to die in a diving accident.  (No details available easily).

At the age of 56 years, Jacques Mayol set a world free diving depth record of 105 meters,  less than 20 years later he chose to end his own life with a rope.  The depression virus (if such a virus does exist) is a powerful adversary.

 

(Picture WG collection)

Australia’s first team to the World Spearfishing Championships.  French Polynesia (Tahiti) `1965

Update: October 20 2004. Wally Gibbins admitted to Coffs Harbour hospital. (Peter Fields preparing interview for New Zealand dive magazine featuring this legend of the sea, born 19 January 1930). .

UPDATE JAN.7 2005. Only a brief but ‘scary’ stay in hospital. A burst blood vessel and great loss of blood. Back to normal as of this moment.

 

What defined a good diver in the early days was the ability to invent, design and improve equipment. To be a good diver it was advantageous to be also skilled with a lathe and other things. Most equipment was home-made from the 1950’s to 1970 and we all relied on friends for help or guidance or both.

The famous Sea Hornet (trade mark) speargun trigger was a design from Wally Gibbins.

Footnote: Wal Gibbins worked in Ben Cropp’s underwater documentaries around Australia, PNG and the Solomon Islands for two years full-time. They share the same birthday, January 19th with a six-year age differences. Wally in 1930, Ben in 1936.

Surname is often spelled Gibbons (erroneously).

 

WALLY GIBBINS Official blog

 

Freediving above the Birchgrove Park shipwreck (160 feet to the sand).

 

 

 

Dunbar shipwreck exploratory dive circa 1955 with Don Linklater (left).

Winter in Sydney pre wet suits.

SOME AUSTRALIAN DIVERS –

Kathy Troutt - teenage mermaid model
Teenage mermaid model  Kathy Troutt Official site

Alan Badger
Alan Badger (1971)
Ben Cropp AM in 1996
Ben Cropp AM in 1996
Ron Taylor AM in 1965
Ron Taylor AM in 1965
Brian McKenna in 1971
Brian McKenna in 1971

1-1-Chesterfield WGM 1Captain Wally Muller (1971)

Alby Ziebell
Captain Alby Ziebell

 

Christine Danaher
Christine Danaher
Irvin Rockman CBE in 1973
Irvin Rockman CBE in 1973
Richard Weir, pearl diver, deckhand, Australian junior champion spear fisherman.
Richard Weir, pearl diver, deckhand, Australian junior champion spear fisherman.
Christine Danaher at Pixie Pinnacle 1991
Christine Danaher at Pixie Pinnacle 1991
Gordon Beaver at home 1980
Gordon Beaver – the amazing adventurer and maverick. (1980)
Australian champion, Alan Badger at a Long Reef weigh-in 1970
Australian champion, Alan Badger at a Long Reef weigh-in 1970
Paul Wilmont and friend at Middleton Reef 1971
Paul Wilmont (left) collecting at Middleton Reef 1971

HENRI BOURCE – ‘SHARK-BITE’ DIVER, SHARK HYSTERIA

Proposed highly publicized shark fight (and one million dollars prize to Wally) did not eventuate. Promoter died suddenly amid world-wide protests of cruelty. This was at the height of JAWS media fever.

Wally Gibbins was the leading shark hunter in 1975, having killed a huge Tiger shark near Heron Island in 1963.  An American sporting promoter devised an underwater shark fight to use a captive shark in a cage – to capitalize on the shark movie hysteria which had most people fearing sharks like never before.  The plan fizzled when the promoter died.  Wally missed out on one million dollars for what would have been a senseless stunt on a very confused captive predator.  Yet at the time most divers would not have taken the job.  A gross mis understanding of sharks still existed.

Meanwhile, to combat phantom pains (itches and aches etc.) in the lost lower half of a leg, Henri learned self hypnosis soon after his ‘accident’ as he called the shark attack.

The effect was, he could explain how the shark bit his leg off and almost turn the incident into humor, sometimes.

So convincing was his attitude to living normal life, without thinking I once criticized him for parking in a disabled parking space.

Henri portrait

Henri Bource led a double life. Rock musician and underwater film maker. People who knew him as diver were unaware he had toured as sax player in the Melbourne group The Thunderbirds – supporting local stars for leading USA artists of the sixties.

Henri’s life story remains untold. He is survived by wife Liz and sons Philippe and Henri Jr.

A young White Pointer shark (1963), at that time it was still a mysterious shark that had not been photographed underwater in it’s natural state, only deceased specimens had been filmed pre 1966.

Cameraman Ron Taylor put a movie camera underwater in January 1966 at Dangerous Reef, South Australia and recorded graphic footage of a small White Pointer snapping at a bait just in front of the lens.

Still frames were used to promote both JAWS and Blue Water White Death movies.  (See Fathom 2 “White Pointer”)

Henri Bource was nearby underwater and recorded the same sequence from the safety of a shark cage.  Henri’s sequence is poorly framed due to the shark cage bouncing yet is a record of the break-through event in shark photography from an alternate angle.

Ron Taylor was not leaning overboard as has been claimed on You Tube (where his film sequence can be found). Only his hands were submerged for that first sequence recorded, on later expeditions Ron would have looked over the side with more confidence. The White Pointer was an unknown species who reputation was greatly exaggerated in the Peter Benchley novel, inspired by that first sequence recorded by Ron Taylor.

(Pat Smith had suggested to his friend Peter Benchley that a good novel might be written about a shark.  Both men were sports journalists working on Newsweek at the time).

The Henri sequence is included in his  Savage Shadows.