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October 2023 Bulletin

Underwater Research Group of New South Wales

Presidents Slate

Hi all,

Welcome to a new URG year. Thanks to all those who attended the AGM at the beginning of October. It turned out to be a fun sunny afternoon. The highlight of the day for me was watching Reka getting the Chief Correspondent award for all her contributions to the Bulletin. It was a touching moment.

Welcome to the 2023 -24 committee, mostly the same people as last year but with the welcome addition of Libby who is taking over the secretary position.

In other news there Seaside Scavenge and Sustainability Fair on Saturday 28 October at Balmoral Reserve, The Esplanade - 10.00am - 2.00pm. Speak to Pablo if interested in joining.

The Sydney Sea Slug Census is happening over two weekends from 10-19 Nov. Register interest here:

That is about all I have to say, so keeping things short this time.


Duncan Heuer

Vale Stephen Conwell

by Michael Abbott

I first met Stephen in the early 90s when his cousin Greg, who was then the Treasurer at Underwater Research Group of NSW, introduced Stephen and Hatty to the Group. Note: always Stephen never Steve. Like everything Stephen did he embraced URG and gave it 100%. He was soon on the Committee, a regular diver, an active fundraiser, at all the social events and on URG trips away.

Stephen's main loves in life were Hatty, and their two kids, but he also enjoyed camping, sailing, his Nissan Patrol, rebuilding cars, boating, fishing and house renovations. I doubt he slept much as he always had 2 or more projects on the go.

Stephen was someone that you never told something couldn't be done. Imagine his horror as a teenager when the family moved to New Zealand and Stephen discovers they don't have skateboards. No problem he would import them and before long was an owner in NZs first skateboard shop. All while still at school.

I remember when we bought the truck, I had seen it at a dealer for $12K and reported to the Committee that this 2 ton truck with a 10 speed gearbox and 3 litre diesel would be perfect for towing the URG boat. The treasurer said we couldn't afford it. A few weeks later I saw the price had dropped to $9K. Stephen volunteered to give it a look and bought the truck for us at $6K. We later named it Urgly. Nothing to do with Stephen.

Stephen had a high stress job in finance but was always free with his time and loved a good meal, a drink and a chat.

Another time the Group needed a new trailer but was again short of funds. Stephen to the rescue as an owner in Brooker Boats he negotiated a new custom trailer at employee rates.

Stephen's diving career was cut short by a serious illness that he worked through but then became a holiday rather than serious diver. My memories of Stephen underwater were him coming back to the anchor line sucking on Hatty's octopus which was a regular occurrence. Stephen was not going to let someone else's dive be cut short just because he needed more air.

Stephen, always thinking of others and much missed.


Sydney Find

By Sarah Han-de-beaux

Not sure if news worthy for the bulletin but we saw a great Moreton Bay bug Lobster this Monday in Sydney at Shark point. First time I've seen one in Sydney...but obviously not rare as I know others have seen them! Sarah

Editors Note

Thanks, it is great when we document members finds on the web site. Members of the Scyllaridae (shovel-nosed or slipper lobster) family are closely related to Rock Lobsters, and sometimes called Bay, Squat, Shovelnose, or Slipper Lobsters, mostly due to their broad, squat shape. They often bury themselves in sand or mud during the day and become active after dark.

Pistol Crack and Inner Henry's Head - 23rd September

by Charlie Elliott

Red Rock Cod at Pistol Crack, photo by Charlie Elliott

Having just arrived back from chilly Cape Town I was very excited that the weather promised to be mild, even if I was prepared for the water to be 17 degrees (it was). We headed out and Duncan did a great job keeping both engines going smoothly. First dive was outside the heads at Pistol Crack, we headed along the wall enjoying the overhangs and abundant fish life. Once we were back on the boat the swell was feeling a bit much for several of us (props to Duncan for coping with it while boat sitting) so we headed inside the harbour looking for some calm. We ended up at inner Henry's Head for our surface interval and second dive. Feeling warmer after some hot chai we headed out to enjoy the beautiful sponge life around Henry's Head. It was a very pleasant day on the water and I was grateful for much more sun than the forecast promised to warm me up on the drive back to the marina.

Divers: Charlie, Libby, Erik, Reka and John S

Great Southern Safari

by Michael Abbott

October 2002. Historical trip organised by Michael Abbott and John Swift. Could this memory be inspiration for a return trip?

The itinerary is as follows:

Friday 15 November we leave Sydney after work or at leisure for a weekend in Ulladulla staying at … to be advised. Diver numbers are unlimited as we will be diving locations such as Lighthouse Reef, 5 minutes from the harbour straight off the lighthouse in 0-23m of water with heaps of fish. Or Burril Rocks, 10 minutes from the harbour in 4-25m of water with heaps of colourful southern sponges etc. No bar crossing and easy access as dive shop is near the harbour as is the pub and a good Chinese restaurant. Dives on Saturday 16/11/02 and Sunday 17/11/02.

Monday 18 November 2002 those who don’t have to go back to work travel in convoy for a mid-week session of diving and fun arriving at Merimbula in the afternoon. A single dive on this day is a good option to break the trip. The location of this dive will be decided by a vote of active divers for that day.

Monday night of the 18 November 2002 will be spent at Wreck Heaven in the Merimbula Divers Lodge as will the nights of Tuesday 19th and Wednesday the 20th. There is a very good Thai restaurant and great fish and chips. On Tuesday 19 and Wednesday 20 we will drive the 40 minutes down to Eden and dive the TUGS called Henry Bolte 24m and Tasman Hauler 28m, which are both magnificent wrecks but incredibly different to each other. There is also the Empire Gladstone wreck in just 10 metres of water.

Thursday 21/11/02 we will drive back to Batemans Bay where we will most likely be staying at the Malua Bay Motel which is next door to a bottle shop, pizza shop and fish/chip joint, across the road from the beach and has a nice family bistro. It is also 5 minutes from the boat ramp so we will stay here Friday night also and be diving the Arch (13m ) with its glorious yellow ceiling or the Cauldron at Burri wall (26m).

Saturday the 23rd of November we will say farewell to our fellow adventurers and return effortlessness to Sydney so that the URG boat is available on Sunday for those poor unfortunates who had to stay home.

Away Levy

As per the bylaws, the away-levy is @ the discretion of the convenor for trips over 200kms. As such, Michael and John have set the levy @ $50- flat (ie not dependant on dives). If you just want to come for the weekend, they will negotiate a suitable levy.

Finally Foster

By John Swift

October 2002

Let it never be said that URG divers are not persistent. After leaving Foster un-dived because of strong winds during the Great Northern Safari last year, we went back a couple of week-ends ago and hit a purple patch (diving talk for fantastic weather). Michael and Janet organised the weekend away and arrived Friday night with all looking good, especially the newly painted boat. Saturday broke to a glorious morning and we went straight out and picked up the pinnicales mooring, a small current, reduced vis and no GNS (grey nurse sharks … ed.) made this fantastic dive site not as good as I have seen it, but very good all the same. Our second dive was at ”Spot A” or “Outer Latitude” this is a wall dive to 20 metres and is full of marine life, including mosaic moray, pineapple fish, a number of large wobbegongs and huge schools of yellow tail, this is a very good dive sight. So good in fact we made it Sunday morning’s first dive and it did not disappoint. Our second dive was Bennett’s bommie where we saw large rays and I let a blind shark out of a cray trap. We found the cave where I have previously seen painted crays but none were at home. Two days of great diving made this URG trip away well worth the effort and Tony and myself stayed two extra days and dived with Foster Dive so we now have new dive sites for our next URG trip to Foster.

History Article in Pictures

Recent Events and News

Dive Log

This free read is highly recommended. Dive Log Australasia. please share with your diving friends.

Upcoming Events

Seaside Scavenge and Sustainability Fair - Saturday 28 October

Balmoral Reserve, The Esplanade - 10.00am - 2.00pm

Sydney Sea Slug Census - 10 to 19th Nov

Register here and happy slug hunting.

Group Meetings at The Oaks

Our next general meeting in the Licensees Flat (upstairs) at the Oaks Hotel in Neutral Bay is on Tuesday 14 November. We have the room booked from 6pm onwards. Join us after work for some beers, food and chatter before the formalities start at 7pm. If you haven't been to one of our catch ups before, just ask the bar staff for directions on where to find us.

November 14th will see the return of a previous club president, John Turnbull, to tell us about life in marine research and corals in Sydney Harbour.

Members, prospective members and guests are very welcome to join.

We hope to see you there.

Boat Dives

Boat dives are organised most weekends from the St George Motor Boat Club Marina in San Souci. Check and Facebook for dates and conveners to book onto dives.

No listing . Means there is no convener assigned to this day. However, all members are invited to organise a dive if they wish. You will need a URG Committee approved boat driver as well as a minimum of four (4) divers paying the usual maintenance contribution. Please coordinate the use of the boat with Josh, Jens or Pablo

Reef Life Surveys

Sydney RLS is complete for 2023. I am sure John Turnbull would be happy if you where to sign up to help next year? That gives you a year to train up on the procedure and fish ID.

Boat handling lessons.

Pablo or any another committee member are willing to run more lessons in boating skills covering everything from docking to to knots. Contact via email or Facebook if interested.

Editors Note

Published Items. The opinions expressed in the “URG Bulletin” are not necessarily those held by members, or the committee of the URG Dive Club. All material published in the URG Bulletin will remain the property of the original author or artist. Please give acknowledgment when citing articles.

Please check with the author informing them of your intention to republish their material, prior to publishing your article.


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