Vintage diving helmets including copper & fibreglass helmets and associated equipment.


By Des Williams HDS Aus-Pac

 Surfacing after a dive, there is nothing more unsettling to a diver than the sound of a boat travelling at speed above. One must keep an anxious lookout for churning propellers whilst praying they are not about to pass overhead. The risk of serious injury or death from motor boat “bite” is ever present and most, if not all, experienced divers can relate tales of near misses.

The 1950s and 60s were boom years for spearfishing and scuba diving, which also coincided with a boom in aluminium and fibreglass runabout affordability, so it wasn’t long before the increased danger to divers became very real indeed. Read more

Leut Frederick Lowrie RAN

This year (2017) marks the 75th anniversary of RAN (navy) diving at HMAS Penguin. HMAS Penguin (II) (Balmoral) was commissioned on 14 July 1942. This post is about the first officer in charge of diving at HMAS Penguin. Read more

John Johnstone

John Johnstone (Johnno) was borne in England and emigrated to Australia as a young man.
He was already well known as a diver in Australia when he was asked to take part in the salvage of the Niagara. This ship had been travelling from England to the US loaded with gold bullion to pay the US for supplies provided in WWII. After stopping in Sydney it moved on to Auckland. A German ship had recently mined the shipping lane out of Auckland and the Niagara hit a mine and sank quickly on leaving the harbour.
For this operation Johnno did not actually dive. The team copied the diving bell used by the Italians to salvage the Artiglio. From the diving bell Johnno, or his brother who had been seconded from the RAN, would direct the grab that was used to first tear away the ship and then to bring up the gold. The team recovered almost all the gold making it the most successful salvage to that time. As there was a war on and the gold belonged to the crown, the team received nothing but their standard pay. Read more

The Oil Drum Diver

by Des Williams HDS Aus-Pac

During the 1930s, many young men were inspired by the deep sea exploring exploits hero of the time, William Beebe, who astounded the world with his descents in his bathysphere, to depths never reached by man until that time. Many home-made diving helmets were reported in the Australian press, a trend which actually extended around the world at the time, such was the excitement generated by William Beebe and his colleague Otis Barton. Read more

Deane Diving Image

Helmet Diving in Australia – The Earliest Record

by Des Williams – HDS Aus-Pac

When was helmet diving first employed in Australia? This is a question we often get asked at the Historical Diving Society and one which we are now able to answer with some certainty, following our detailed historical research. Read more

Helmet Diving Video

Max Gleeson, author of several excellent books on NSW shipwrecks, and the Yongala, and cinematographer, has kindly made available online a video of the NAUI Helmet Diving Course held in Portland, Victoria. 

Diver Adverts

As mentioned in previous issues of our magazine, we are running free classified ads for members in “Classic Diver” magazine.

If you would like to advertise your interests, equipment you are looking for, books you have for sale or exchange, gear you have for sale – anything related to diving history please email a short description directly to our Editor, Jeff Maynard at

Make sure you include your name and email (along with address or phone number if you want).