Underwater models of today might enjoy researching the films of Esther Williams. Hollywood movies based around synchronized pool swimming were big in the 1950′s and no expense was spared in their production. Esther was the queen of the era.
I spotted this poster at a town west of Townsville, Queensland called Ravenswood. It was 1978 so the poster is unlikely to be still on display.
Gina Taylor (pictured) and I did presented our underwater film show in the local hall that night, just for fun. The roll-up was surprisingly good for a ‘ghost town’, formerly a gold mining boom town.
A pair of hotels remained open, otherwise it’s worth a visit to see the main street with old shops with wooden footpaths, just like a Hollywood western movie.
- Fathom was a marine diving magazine published by Gareth Powell & Associates in Australia. It is considered to have played an important role in raising international awareness of the status of Australian marine life, especially sharks with underwater photography, and established new standards in terms of quality, content, design and accurate marine journalism at a time when most was being sensationalized in the popular press.
- It was said to be better designed and printed than the leading USA publication, Skin Diver.
“Fathom magazine was a perfect fit for its time. The 48-page publication first appeared in Sydney December 1970, produced by Gareth Powell, an eccentric, entrepreneurial British publisher who knew, above anything else, how to employ talented people and give them the freedom to work. Fathom quickly came to reflect the new scuba diving and marine environmental awareness inspired by the Save the Barrier Reef campaign, and the crown-of-thorns starfish plagues threatening coral reefs world wide”.
- Gareth Powell has been quoted as saying the title Fathom was one of three suggested by editor, John Harding who had canvassed the idea of publishing a dive magazine to him on three occasions. The design was similar to Surf International which was soon to cease production.
- A major influence on the style of the magazine was the designer, Roy Bisson. In Fathom the freelance contributing photographers and marine journalists were among the best that Australia had produced and included Ron and Valerie Taylor, and John Harding. The art director (an accomplished diver) had full responsibility to choose the photographs used and to decide how they should be displayed. No other magazine company in Australia, at that time, allowed this level of involvement by their creative staff. The only person who was kept well away from the creative process was the publisher, Gareth Powell. He knew printing – and Fathom was to set new standards for the international diving world, attracting attention from many experts in this field, including the aloof Philippe Cousteau who granted an exclusive and rare interview during his Australian visit. The editorial content of the magazine was under the control of John Harding (a photojournalist and underwater film cameraman) and Roy Bisson.
- It was the responsibility of Harding & Bisson to devise stories, write, photograph and sell advertising and assemble all pictures rather than rely on haphazard contributions. Dive shops were initially reluctant to advertise until after issue number six.
- 1971 was the beginning of P.A.D.I scuba schools franchise being available to Australian dive shops.
- In early 1973 the magazine ceased production with issue ten and before completion of a proposed “Annual”. Various reasons contributed to the closure despite a rapidly rising circulation in Australia and USA. A plan to publish Fathom Yearbook much later was actively supported by all former advertisers.
- The magazine was printed in Hong Kong and Singapore to obtain better quality than anything available in Australia.
- Fathomag.wordpress.com now features 480 pages from all ten issues. Copyright applies.
The John Harding Australian Marine Picture Library
“OUR FUTURE – A NEW ADVENTURE”
Marine Photography: 1960 – 2013
fathom (Reg. TM, Australia)
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From a video clip posted on YouTube during a recent visit to Taipei.
The herbal medicine street there is Dihua Street. Shark fins, canned and dried abalone and many items we rarely see in Australia, on sale from hundreds of small shops that are unique in Asia with Japanese era architecture.
Perhaps the most innovative product of all is dried jellyfish.
It’s not so cheap either. (Australians regard dried seaweed as being an unusual, so jellyfish is very different)!
We can only wonder if those Asian masters of turning almost every form of sea creature into something edible could tackle making a food product from, say, Acanthaster planci, the crown-of-thorns starfish?
That would be a challenge.
The spines have a unique poison that is very painful. Most sea creatures leave the starfish alone. Exceptions being triton trumpet shells and hump head maori wrasse.
There is a possibility coral trout eat juvenile crown-of-thorns.
Less coral trout = more starfish in an area. That theory is still to be researched.
Divers visited the shipwreck site, just off the entrance to Sydney Harbour and under the cliffs of Dover Heights back in 1955 and regularly afterwards. The silver coins shown below are part of Gillies Gold – the collection recovered by the late John Gillies over many years working the site.
Holes drilled in the coins suggest these were being worn as security against theft by some of the 121 persons who drowned in 1857 during a cold winter morning. The ship arrived at Sydney Heads during fog and heavy seas to be wrecked after a long voyage from England.
A disaster so close to their destination after months at sea. The ship struck rocks near a popular suicide location known as ‘the gap’.
Pictured above is the late Wally Gibbins – a salvage diver known for his work on Solomon Islands, and for his knowledge of sea shells. http://xanga.com/wallygibbins
Also a champion with spear fishing and shark hunting exploits during the pioneer era.
John Gillies speared this record-sized Bonito at Long Reef, Sydney.
After years of drought there was rain all along the east coast of Australia. The sharks that were thought to be on the brink of extinction suddenly came back by the hundred. The link between rainfall and sea life has not been studied, to my knowledge, at least not with shark populations.
Try counting the Grey nurse in this picture. I think there could be 21.
“I believe that the Grey nurse is not a threatened shark, there are still many congregations of the sharks that the so called know-all’s don’t know about, certainly in the area where I live. (North coast of New South Wales).
I have even seen a 7ft 6″ one that was caught in the lower section of the Clarence River and one that was caught in a trawler’s net just north of Yamba NSW on sand.
There are many places along the NSW coast that have not been dived on and would most certainly support the Grey Nurse shark. This is my belief and I stand to be correct. I have swam and dived in the ocean for the last 40 years. Geoff ‘Boots’ Towner 2 July 2010