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UNDERWATER l;(

By JOAN KENNETT

# Underwater photog- rapher and spearfishing champion Ron Taylor

wants to make an under- water TV series in Australia - and his wife, Valerie,

hopes to be the star.

UNDERWATER cameraman Ron ToyiH

RON, 29, and Valerie,

28, were married at Hurstville, N.S.W., last . December, and spent their

honeymoon at Kangaroo Island, off the coast of South Australia, where Ron won his third successive Aus- tralian open spearfishing championship.

"No one thought he could1, do it," said his ,proud bride. Valerie. "Champion three times in a row against top spearmen from all over

Australia!"

Ron collected 17 species

of edible fish in four hours. He was 200 points above shark spearman Wally Gib- bins, who was placed second.

Valerie is also an expert. As Valerie Heighes, she

won the New South Wales

ladies' spearfishing cham- pionship last October, and is

also 1963 ladies' S.C.U.B.A.

champion. ( S.C.U.B.A. stands for self-contained un-

derwater breathing appa- ratus.)

Both members of the New South Wales skindiving team, Ron and Valerie met four years ago at a skindiv- ing meeting at St. George, Sydney.

"I didn't take any notice of him for the first two years," she said. "It was only when he asked me to appear in one of his films

that. I realised he was actu- ally living."

That began an under- water romance, with Val- erie starring in most of

Ron's newsreels and films. One of these was "Shark

Hunters!", produced by Ron with Ben Cropp, which has been telecast throughout

Australia.

Ron once captured a live eight-foot grey nurse shark off a reef near Tweed Heads, on the New South Wales Queensland border.

"Naturally, the shark had to stay in the water," said Ron. "So with the help of Valerie and a man called 'Snowy' Ley (he has white blond hair), who were in a boat, I towed him nine miles underwater to 'The Porpoise Pool,' an aquarium at

Tweed Heads."

"I was terrified for Ron," said Valerie. "The shark was thrashing about so wildly. Ron broke its front teeth with the end of his spear gun try- ing to ward off an attack."

Valerie and Ron spent 10 days on a yacht cruising among the Fijian islands making a film to promote skindiving in Fiji. The film, starring Valerie as a girl on

Shark attack !

a Fijian holiday, will be seen in Australia this year.

Another of Ron's films to be released soon is "Queens- land Spectacular," which shows Valerie swimming with a giant manta ray.

"Most people think manta rays are extremely dangerous, but they're not," said Valerie. "I swam over this one and under him, even made faces at him, but all he did was look at me with a sweet, docile ex- pression."

Ron has been a profes- sional underwater photog- rapher for three years. Be

tween his countless newsreel

and photographic assign-

ments he has carried off

more spearfishing titles and trophies than he can re-

member.

Ron has been interested in photography ever since schooldays ' at Hurstville Technical High School.

When he left school he

worked as a photo engraver, making blocks for printing. He took up underwater pho- tography when he started to skindive eight years ago.

For his films Ron decides on his own theme - always with a skindiving motif -

and submits the finished product to a television sta- tion or to Movietone News.

He also writes I^^U articles for the nati¡21

sporting magazine "UH

tralian Outdoors," aiflj "Mondo Somereo" {B

derwater World"), ?

Italian magazine prinU^BB

Rome.

His pictures are oftcflJB the cover of the "AusbflJB Skindiving Magazine.'flflB

Now Ron is teackkli/ Valerie the techniquejiffl'' underwater photography gil that he can do a bit offrir, glamor work in front ofBfl

camera.

"I really earn my talpi as an illustration artist B||| the Press Feature Sera^H Sydney, drawing feahu^BI

children," said Valerie. ifll this only takes up two ¡tm

a week, so it leaves me ¡¡??I

of time to work with lill

Valerie, who lived ÜHBA

Zealand for 12 years jflj

child, first started dm^|fl

the age of nine. "But it «t M

too cold to do much nu there," she said.

In Australia, she tuiflH

modelling and had bit flj

in the now extinct "nBH lash" television series. fl

She took the leading ?

in a stage version °ffl Seven Year Itch" whflfl

for eight months in SydflJ

For four years now fl been concentrating senflJ on diving and spearfislflj She once killed a shark flj a spear gun, in the wflj

off Heron Island, à

SCHOOL of yellowtail are quite unconcerned as Valerie Taylor swims beside them

rtOMANCE

VALERIE, an underwater "film «tar," swimming over a coral reef near Heron Island, on the Great Barrier Reef. In the fore- ground is a sweetlip and a school of smaller fish.

HONEYMOON at Kan- garoo Island for Ron and Valerie Taylor. Here Ron won his third Australian open spear- fishing championship in December-January.

CHAMPION spearfishericoman

Valerie examines a coterie shell

in the waters off Heron Island, t. ' where she once killed a shark.

CATCHING a crayfish among the coral at Heron Island. Valerie, who is learning underwater photog- raphy, took this picture of Ron.

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