News

A Las Balsas party?

RAFT ANNIVERSARY: Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum volunteers Robert Jones and John Colville pictured last year with the Las Balsas raft on display in the museum.
RAFT ANNIVERSARY: Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum volunteers Robert Jones and John Colville pictured last year with the Las Balsas raft on display in the museum.

THERE is a possibility that a celebratory event will be held to mark this year's 40th anniversary of the arrival of the Las Balsas raft expedition in Ballina from Ecuador.

Ballina Shire Council in December agreed to a report being prepared on options to commemorate the anniversary.

This followed a report at the November council meeting on costs associated with the preservation of two other wooden vessels in the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum where the Las Balsas raft is housed, and costs of upkeep of the museum's building which needs to be re-roofed because of asbestos sheeting.

That report gave an option to councillors of "de-accession" or removal of the raft from the museum's collection, noting that it failed to meet heritage guidelines.

The councillors will meet at the museum for a workshop this month to further discuss those issues.

Cr Jeff Johnson raised the idea of a raft anniversary event in December, and his motion was supported unanimously.

"The unexpected arrival of the Las Balsas rafts in Ballina 39 years ago is something unique to Ballina and should be promoted as such," he said.

Ron Creber, curator of the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum where the Las Balsas raft is the centrepiece, welcomed the idea of a broader community celebration.

He said the volunteers at the museum were already discussing ways to mark the 40th anniversary of the arrival of the three rafts, and were keen to particularly get local schools and service clubs involved.

Owner of the tourism attraction Knockrow Castle, Tony Gilding, spoke in favour of the anniversary celebration. One of the promises he made as a Greens candidate at the last council election was to mark the occasion.

The three balsa wood rafts were crewed by 12 men of various nationalities, led by Spaniard Vital Alsar, and sailed across the Pacific with the prevailing winds and currents.

They aimed to sail the three rafts to Mooloolaba on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, where a previous expedition of one raft arrived in 1970.

But they were driven south by a strong southerly current, and arrived at Ballina on November 2, 1973, where two of the rafts were towed across the bar by the Royal Australian Navy landing craft HMAS Labuan and local trawlers.

The raft currently on show in the museum is built from those surviving two rafts.

The third raft, too water-logged to be towed, was set adrift and ended up washing ashore on a beach north of Newcastle.

The 12 men of the Las Balsas expedition had spent 178 days at sea.

A decade after the landing, a reunion was held in Ballina and three former crew members attended.



Surfer's shark tale: 'That's when it's come straight at me'

Pictured at Kingscliff this morning Rodney Clark has survived a Great White encounter.

"I lost sight of my son because a wave hit him"

Sleeping rough for Fred's Place

ALL RUGGED UP: From left, Lenny McLennan, Jason McDonald, Gerard Robinson, Gordon Rhodes and Stuart Burrows prepare for Fred's Place Sleep Out.

Tweed locals show support for homeless by sleeping outside in boxes.

Latest deals and offers

Kristen Bell's baby confession

Kristen Bell once pretended to be asleep when her baby woke up early

Babylon 5's Jerry Doyle has died

Jerry Doyle has died from unknown causes at the age of 60

Mum driver heroically ignores hilarious lip-syncing son

Hilarious moves while Mum concentrates on the road.

IF IT takes a village to raise a child, why aren't they driving?

Twitter adds dancing David Brent emoji

Ricky Gervais's character has its own emoji now

Cyndi Lauper opens up about mother's dementia

Cyndi Lauper says her mother Catrine has "a little dementia".

Lindsay Lohan 'calls off engagement'

Lohan reportedly called off her engagement to Russian millionaire

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

Massive residential 9-storey high-rise hit by delays

An artist’s impression of the eight-storey-high apartment complex that Bernoth Holdings wants to build in South Toowoomba, next to the City Golf Club.

Developer struggles to get approved high-rise development started