Ulladulla and Districts Probus Club members heard about shipwrecks across the globe and one member’s life’s experiences at their first meeting of the year.
The 10 minute speaker at the February meeting was member Joan Johnston. Ms Johnston presented an impromptu amusing collection of her life’s experiences, publicity officer Joan Lonergan said.
“Many years ago she and her three young sons were about to board the steam train at Bulli station when one of the boys screamed,” she said.
“Fellow passengers and station attendants were horrified. The boy, however, had not fallen down the ‘gap’ but had been alarmed that their dinner was falling out of a bag onto the platform.”
Deep sea discoveries
The guest speaker was dive shop owner Brian Harrison, assisted by Tony Wright, whose topic was wreck diving.
Mr Harrison told the audience he learnt to scuba dive in Vietnam. He was smitten and spent the next 10 weekends diving on his return to Australia. His keen interest is deep wreck diving and Mr Harrison “enthralled” members by showing photos taken on the wreck of the SS President Coolidge.
Coolidge was a “massive” luxury liner which could accommodate 1,260 passengers and 300 crew. The ship became a troopship during the Second World War (WW2) and she evacuated critically injured after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.
In 1942 she left San Francisco bound for the military base and harbour at Luganville on Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. Sailing orders did not include safety information and the ship was hit by two friendly mines. The captain ran the ship aground and more than 5000 troops were safely evacuated. The ship then slid into deep water and is the world’s largest accessible wreck.
Mr Harrison had photos of cargo holds, the engine room, toilets, the stern, a jeep, canons and the bow.
He also had images of a popular dive site on Espiritu Santo is known as “Million Dollar Point”. Supplies were ditched after World War Two and divers can see millions of dollars worth of vehicles, bulldozers and other machinery.
Wrecks closer to home include SS Bega at Tathra which sank in 1908 laden with animals bound for Sydney’s Royal Easter Show. Another is SS Cumberland which lies in 96 metres of water off Green Cape.
Brian Powe thanked Mr Harrison for his talk and presented him with a thank-you gift.
Ulladulla and Districts Probus Club meet at 9.45am at the Milton Ulladulla ExServos Club on the second Friday of each month.