Raft of options for piece of sailing history

PRESERVE THE RAFT: Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum volunteers Robert Jones and John Colville with the Las Balsas raft on display in the museum. Photo Graham Broadhead / Ballina Shire Advocate
PRESERVE THE RAFT: Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum volunteers Robert Jones and John Colville with the Las Balsas raft on display in the museum. Photo Graham Broadhead / Ballina Shire Advocate Graham Broadhead

RON Creber has no doubt the raft from the 1973 Las Balsas expedition needs to be preserved because it is part of Ballina's history.

He is the curator of the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum, where the raft is prominently on display.

He was reacting to a decision by Ballina Shire Council last week to visit the museum and hold a workshop following a report presented to the councillors.

In that report - primarily about the preservation of two council-owned vessels in the museum, the historic river boat MV Florrie and the former pilot vessel PV Richmond - staff presented an option to remove the raft from the museum.

The raft is a combination of two of the three balsa wood rafts which, crewed by 12 men of various nationalities, sailed with the prevailing winds and currents from Ecuador across the Pacific Ocean and arrived in Ballina in November 1973.

Two of the rafts were towed into Ballina by the Royal Australian Navy vessel HMAS Labuan and a local trawler. The third raft, which was in poor condition, was set adrift and ended up on a beach north of Newcastle.

Staff reported to council that the raft, "gifted to the people of Ballina" by the crew, didn't meet any of the seven criteria under the NSW Assessing Significance guidelines, so "the raft is not considered to have significant heritage values".

It was also reported that the roof of the council-owned museum needed to be replaced - at an estimated cost of $200,000 - and the tall mast of the raft added to the expense because of the high roof.

One of the options given to councillors was "de-accession" or removal of the raft to reduce the re-roofing costs of the museum, and allow the Richmond to be moved inside. Another option is to keep the raft as a "curiosity".

Mr Creber said the raft had been very much undersold as a tourist attraction in Ballina.

He also said it was a former council decision to build the high roof at the museum to allow the mast of the raft to stand upright.

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Ballina Prawn Festival will not be free this year

Ballina Prawn Festival 2013. Photo Mireille Merlet-Shaw / The Northern Star

This year's festival will be a ticketed event

Greens fight and fuss but shark nets are coming

The NSW Government has vowed to reintroduce old-style mesh shark nets to North Coast beaches.

Mesh shark nets almost certain to arrive at North Coast beaches

Alstonville's 'inspirational' show

INSPIRIATIONAL: Nick Fredericksen (left), from Kilcoy in Queensland, at last year's Alstonville show. He lost an arm in a farm accident as a child.

Stars of show 'getting on with life' despite challenges

Local Partners

Liam Payne wants to wed Cheryl Fernandez-Versini

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and Liam Payne

Liam Payne reportedly wants to marry Cheryl Fernandez-Versini

House of ill repute set to open in Ballina next month

MORE THAN A CHICKEN RANCH: Pictured are Miss Mona (Jacquie McCalman, right)) with her girls (from left) Bronte Walsh, Abby McCalman, Jacinta Hunter, Emma Buckman and Iesha Williams in rehearsals for the Ballina Players' production of the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

New production of the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

Bindi Irwin 'honoured' to make MAXIM HOT 100 list

Wildlife Warrior named among Australia's most beautiful women

Len Wiseman files for divorce from Kate Beckinsale

Kate Beckinsale

Len Wiseman has filed for divorce from Kate Beckinsale

First look at Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life series

Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel in a scene from the TV series Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.

NETFLIX drops first trailer for its revival of fan favourite.

Hugh Laurie will get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Hugh Laurie

Hugh Laurie is set to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Tough times in CBD: Woolies says goodbye Ipswich

Woolworths in the Ipswich Mall.Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

The last day of trading will be January 1

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals