The below Club History was written by Don Young for the original NQUEC site built by Kerry McKenzie. It covers the history of the club from up until 2000
The minutes of the first meeting were recorded on September 1st, 1979
that the first office bearers were:
President – Ian Gregory
Vice President – Frits Quintemeyer
Secretary – Ian Napper
Treasurer – Allen Lee
Chief Training Officer – Zott Simon
Club Member – Mike Ball
Unfortunately, water damage from the Great Flood of 98 rendered parts of the minutes
illegible, but it would appear from subsequent minutes that the above was actually the
totality of the members and that the meeting was situated at the premises of the
Townsville Skindiving Centre, Ingham Road and which is presently the location of Westaff.
The motivating force at the time was of course Frits with his dive shop, and it should
be noted that the motivation was not purely commercial. People were already roaming
through the place searching for a sense of belonging.
Reflecting the fact that Frits hailed from Adelaide, our name and the first constitution
(more akin to today’s Codes of Practice), had ties to what are presently the
Underwater Explorers Club of South Australia (no known web site) and their
constitution. There is also an Underwater Explorers Club of Western Australia
(established in the 1950s, web site).
Meeting Places / Club Houses
The last monthly general meeting at the Townsville Skindiving Centre occurred
on May 3rd, 1972 and interest had improved markedly with 15 members, and 18 visitors.
Larger premises were obviously required and from June 7th, meetings were
held at the JCUNQ, Douglas Campus, initially at the School of Biological Sciences,
and a little later, the Senior Common Room,.
Politics within and between clubs was much more prevalent at that time and the
same applied to the governing and certification organizations. Such political
disputation motivated a pseudo breakaway group to incarnate themselves as a
parallel club with the lofty title of the British Sub Aqua Club, Great Barrier
Reef (branch) or BSAC/GBR so that conversations were practical.
The inaugural meeting on March 6th, 1978, was held at the West End Hotel.
The last committee meeting (BSAC) was minuted on November 1st, 1978.
The two groups were essentially the same people involved in a family squabble
and reconciliation did eventually occur, presumably at about the time mentioned
above and the NQUEC was once again a complete entity.
During this period of political intrigue, the minutes showed gaps between March
and November 1978 – apart from one entry in May,
The meetings for November and December 1978 were recorded at the
Townsville Yacht Squadron, Palmer St South Townsville. Unfortunately,
the old building has since been demolished.
There had always been talk about our own clubhouse and periodic approaches
had been made to various governments for the loan of any land that might be suitable.
Eventually, a sufficiency of such disparate groups as ourselves had been accumulated.
The local state member subsequently prevailed upon the Harbour Board who must
have had a surplus of cash at the time and what is now Enterprise House was built
as the clubhouse of the Townsville Yacht Club, and of which the NQUEC comprised
the diving division with a seat on the board of directors
The Groups were:
Townsville Yacht Squadron
Townsville Cruising Yacht Club
Townsville Skiff Club
Townsville Catamaran Club
North Queensland (?) Businessman’s Club
The first minutes recorded at the Townsville Yacht Club occurred on
February 7th, 1979.
As mentioned before, political intrigues were more prevalent at the time and, just
as political concerns were instrumental in the formation of the TYC, they were most
likely involved in its demise.
The minutes of the meeting on June 3rd, 1982 were recorded at Buchanan’s Hotel.
The minutes of September 9th, 1982 were recorded at Tattersall’s Hotel, now
known as Molly Malones, and where outward correspondence included a letter
to Peter Hutton, the licensee of Buchanan’s, thanking him for past help and
expressing deep regret at the burning down of the building.
The TYC experience started what was probably one of the most significant
episodes in Club history in that it facilitated and encouraged a heightened
sense of camaraderie. The frequency of bonding sessions had increased beyond
the formal monthly meeting and the organised social functions. The members
were meeting for drinks after work, especially on Friday afternoons when
many would stay for a meal.
This was such a success that the Friday afternoons carried over to Tattersall’s
and continued for a number of years. In fact, most of the Club discussions,
wheeling and dealing, arrangement of dive trips, etc. were effected on Friday
afternoons at Tats. Some people were complaining about missing out on some
small boat trips only to be told to come to the pub on Friday. The weather
looked fine then and a spur of the moment decision was made to go diving.
Several other pubs were later tried but none enjoyed the same success.
After the demise of the TYC, about half a dozen NQUEC members joined the
Motor Boat Club and the minutes of November 1st, 1983 were recorded there,
as have all minutes since.
Politics and the NQUEC
The formative years of the NQUEC occurred at a time before the bureaucracy
realised that there were divers out there behaving in the same uncontrolled
manner as normal citizens. Had to end eventually. Anyone could walk into a dive
shop and buy a complete set of scuba and teach themselves to dive.
There were even reports of people still using converted oxygen bottles
from military aircraft.
However, the need for safety and standardisation had been recognised by
the industry and, in response, people and organizations were banding together
to set up standards for teaching and certification. This resulted in what would
have been acronym heaven for those so inclined, and in no particular order:
FAUI – Federation of Australian Underwater Instructors
NAUI – National Association of Underwater Instructors
BSAC – British Sub Aqua Club
AUF – Australian Underwater Federation
QUF – Queensland Underwater Federation
CMAS – Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques
(Trans.? Worldwide Confederation of Underwater Sports)
NQS – National Qualification System
PADI – Professional Association of Diving Instructors
The above list mentions only some of the more common ones associated with
Everybody was in bed with somebody else; with multiple partners even.
The object of the game was to eliminate all the others that you were not
sleeping with so you could gobble up their bed mates. A bit of the “Sir Humphrey”
syndrome, the more people you had under your control, the better you had to be.
It is worth noting that PADI was the Johnny-come-lately of the bunch and
offered the best economic prospects for the operators. Most students of economics
will probably agree that the best economic prospects for operators will generally
result in the converse for the consumer.
The diving scene at the time was relatively small and the transient diver at
nowhere near the levels of today. This resulted in a lot of cross-pollination
with many people belonging to more than one club.
A certain machismo element was prevalent in that someone with such and such
a qualification may be prone to boast that they had to swim 10000 laps of the
pool and dive to 200 ft in a crocodile infested creek with 2 inch vis. to qualify for their bit of paper. Therefore, and without actually saying so, they must be better than anybody else.
Someone with a different piece of paper might respond with a “So what! Mine is
still bigger than yours!”.
It was in this atmosphere that the local RAAF club (BSAC) found itself losing
membership and tried to recruit elsewhere. A couple of people with duel membership
were able to take advantage of some internal political conflict within the NQUEC
(I think opposition to membership of the proposed TYC may have been part of the problem).
The result was the BSAC/GBR mentioned before. It’s a good thing that acronyms
had already been invented; otherwise divers would have had to get out of bed
somewhat earlier in order to finish conversations before dark.
Fortunately, sanity prevailed and the two clubs resolved the domestic dispute
and recombined. The Club affiliated with the AUF, some individuals obtained
BSAC certification and honour was satisfied all round.
What happened to the NQUEC while all this political stuff was going on?
Although the NQUEC committee minutes showed fewer gaps, the minutes of
the general meetings showed a single entry (May) in the seven-month period
from March to November 1978.
The president at the time was Phil Stokes and although the minutes showed
some committee meetings, it was Phil who took care of all the correspondence
and any official business.
Political considerations aside, and without detracting from the achievements
of anybody else, Phil’s contribution towards the NQUEC may possibly be the
greatest of any member before or since. For over half a year, Phil kept the
NQUC alive virtually single-handed and in the face of some determined opposition
from his friends who had tried to destroy the Club by their absences. Phil also
kept up negotiations on behalf of the NQUEC for entry to the TYC, for which
the power of hindsight should have motivated a vote of thanks. With the possible
exception of history, up to this day, Phil’s efforts have not been officially acknowledged.
As mentioned in a previous section, six assorted orphan clubs were found to be
in need of a home, and with the influence of the local member, the Harbour Board
was reluctantly persuaded to provide the land, and the bulk of the money, for
construction of the premises. Some small contributions from each of the six member
clubs, some prominent business people going guarantor, and the Townsville Yacht Club
sprang into existence. The Harbour Board was to be repaid in the form of rent that
was to be sourced from profits generated at the bar, hire of the facilities to
outside functions, etc.
There appeared to be a certain level of resentment from some members of the
Harbour Board at the political aspects of the situation.
Needless to say, the revenue was less than expected, the member lost his seat,
the landlord invoked the relevant clauses, and the TYC went into liquidation.
Under no circumstances could the Harbour Board be accused of doing anything
improper or illegal, but the TYC may have survived with a more sympathetic
landlord – political payback? The building remained vacant for over a year.
Some areas of community involvement include:
(1) Eco diving – cleanup near jetties, local creek, salvage of sunken vessels
(plenty of photos in club album)
(2) Floats in Pacific Festivals – the NQUEC won a gold medal in the very first
of such (See Ken G.) and one or two other prizes in subsequent years
(3) Some of the first Oktoberfests in town were organised by the NQUEC at
the TYC. At the time, we had a large representation of different flavours of
the Germanic types and their associated friends, many of whom attended our
social functions regularly.
(4) We co-ordinated the design, finance, and building of a large aquarium for
the TYC and kept it stocked and maintained.
(5) Supplied Commonwealth Serum Laboratories with stonefish on demand.
Other areas of community-associated activities will certainly come to light
as word of this project spreads.