Students enjoy 2022 Rymarine Rotary Youth Marine Educational Experience

Jetty Dive instructor Stuart Tempest-Jessop instructing the young Rymarine participants in the basics of scuba diving in Coffs Harbour’s War Memorial Olympic Pool.

IMMERSING teenagers in the underwater university of the ocean, the four-day in-residence Rymarine initiative of the Rotary Club of Coffs Harbour Daybreak has just held its 2022 event.

The purpose of the program is to familiarise fifteen to seventeen year old school students with marine science, ocean exploration and marine career options.

Toleman & CoAdvertise with News of The Area today.
It’s worth it for your business.
Message us.
Phone us – (02) 4981 8882.
Email us –

This year, 21 participants arrived at the Coffs Coast Adventure Centre in Bonville where they were comfortably accommodated for the four days of October 13 to 16.

With one student from Coffs Harbour, the others hailed from locations in Northern NSW such as Armidale, Port Macquarie, Alstoneville, Coonamble, Hunter Valley and Tamworth.

Rotary Daybreak Club president David Wilson ferried the participants in a bus to their various activities around Coffs Harbour, including marine science experiments and observations at the National Marine Science Centre, an introduction to scuba diving by Jetty Dive at the Coffs Harbour War Memorial Swimming Pool, a visit to the Dolphin Marine Conservation Park, snorkelling at South West Solitary Island with Jetty Dive, and a natural and cultural-history tour of Muttonbird Island with NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service officers.

On Saturday night, a dinner celebrating the students’ achievements was held at the Adventure Centre.

Luke Austin, grandson of former club member Gary Austin who initiated Rymarine in 2006, is now a marine scientist and gave a fifteen-minute speech to an audience of 90 people about his career path since participating in Rymarine.

Guest speaker for the evening was Rotary Club of Coffs Harbour Daybreak member Mark Spencer who spoke about his lifetime of ocean exploration and photography.

Mark’s ocean adventures began immediately after he graduated in dentistry in 1977, requiring him to delicately balance “two vocations”.

A Fellow International of the Explorers Club and author of the book ‘Ocean of Self’, Mark shared inspirational highlights of his underwater pursuits diving in subterranean caves, exploring deep sea shipwrecks and a lifetime of observations and encounters with the extraordinary ocean wildlife.

He told how these experiences have shaped his world view and how he sees our human connection with the environment and each other.

“Ocean diving can positively influence our values and worldview, including our relationship with marine wildlife and even each other,” he told News Of The Area.

“I wanted to stress to the young Rymarine participants that rigorous ‘objectivity’ is needed in our scientific approach to marine biology, but that we also need to sharpen our ‘inner awareness’ to perceive the subtle messages of nature.

“These ‘subjective’ messages will convince us of our connectivity to nature and ultimately to each other and all things.

“We can then celebrate and love our differences, knowing that we share more in common than we sometimes realise,” Mark said.

Rymarine 2022 was a great success thanks to the efforts of club member Bev Stalling, who coordinated the program with the considerable help of Marilyn Brien.

Many other club members assisted at different times and the club also appreciated the considerable support of guest chaperone Maxine Kiellor from Gunnedah.

Interest in future Rymarine programs should be directed to

Rymarine was instigated back in 2006, when (now deceased) club member Gary Austin suggested Rotary in Coffs Harbour run a marine educational program for young people similar to ‘Rystars’ in Coonabarabran.

Coffs Harbour was seen to be ideally located for such a program because of the presence of our National Marine Science Centre, Fishing Co-op, presence of Water Police, Border Control (formerly ‘Customs’), Solitary Islands Marine Park Authority and National Parks representatives, plus the famous Solitary Island, with well-established dive charter operations taking divers to the islands.


Leave a Reply