Lifestyle

Who pays the ferry master?

JOHN Gallagher could have the best job in the world.

His "office" has ultimate water views and so he spends his days (or nights, depending on the shift) taking in the beautiful scenery of the Richmond River.

He also gets to meet "heaps of interesting people" while keeping an eye out for dolphins, sharks and fish.

Mr Gallagher is a ferry master on Burns Point Ferry at Ballina.

It's a job the 67-year-old has been doing for 10 years.

"I was a commercial fisherman for 45 years, but when I sold my licence back to the gov- ernment I wasn't sure what to do," he said.

 

HEAVEN SENT: John Gallagher in his office, left; the river at Ballina, below left. Below right, the Burns Point ferry.
HEAVEN SENT: John Gallagher in his office, left; the river at Ballina, below left. Below right, the Burns Point ferry.

"Then this came up and I've been here ever since.

 

"Getting this job was like something from the gods.

"I love it."

Ferry drivers, particularly those qualified to operate wire-drawn ferries like the one at Burns Point, are few and far between.

Drivers are required to have a unique set of skills, such as a licence to operate as a master or engineer of a vehicular ferry in chains, or a Marine Engine Driver Grade 3 licence for restricted vessels in chains.

Ballina Shire Council's human resources manager, Kelly Brown, said the council was now looking for casual ferry drivers to help relieve drivers during the busy holiday peri- ods.

"We need our staff to be able to take leave," she said.

"So there are positions available.

 

"But yes, because the skills required are unique, it can be difficult to get people to fill those jobs."

Mr Gallagher said working on the ferry was an ideal job for people who loved the water.

He said it was also good for people who enjoyed variety in their work.

"I had one lady, about five years ago, who was giving birth in an ambulance while I was driving the ferry," he said.

"There was also a break-in at one of the caravan parks once, and the police rang me and asked me to keep an eye out for these three fellows.

"I had them on the ferry and when they realised the police were waiting on the other side of the river, they were about to jump into the water.

"Then the policeman yelled out, 'I wouldn't do that if I were you'.

"The fellows got handcuffed to the ferry railing ... it certainly kept the ferry crowd entertained."

Mr Gallagher loves the ferry and hopes a bridge is never built to connect South Ballina to Ballina proper.

"I don't see this (ferry) dying for a long time yet."

Topics:  burns point ferry, richmond river


Stay Connected

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

GAME FOR ZANE: Under-18s to honour fallen clubmate

IN HONOUR: Lower Clarence will honour fallen clubman Zane Purcell in their annual #GameforZane on Sunday at Ballina.

“Zane died on the field doing what he loved for the club he loved"

$4 million announced for Ballina airport expansion

North Coast Nationals MLC Ben Franklin and Minister for Regional Development John Barilaro announced the funding at Ballina Byron Gateway Airport this morning.

Airport among 10 projects to receive vital infrastructure upgrades

New Ballina chamber board looks to the future

The full Ballina Chamber of Commerce board at the Ballina Coast & Hinterland Northern Star Business Excellence Awards in 2015.

A new board have been elected for the Ballina Chamber of Commerce

Latest deals and offers

North Coast beaches cleared as sharks spotted

SWIMMERS at a number of Northern Rivers beaches were forced from the water at the weekend after a spate of shark sightings across the region.

GAME FOR ZANE: Under-18s to honour fallen clubmate

IN HONOUR: Lower Clarence will honour fallen clubman Zane Purcell in their annual #GameforZane on Sunday at Ballina.

“Zane died on the field doing what he loved for the club he loved"

$4 million announced for Ballina airport expansion

North Coast Nationals MLC Ben Franklin and Minister for Regional Development John Barilaro announced the funding at Ballina Byron Gateway Airport this morning.

Airport among 10 projects to receive vital infrastructure upgrades

New Ballina chamber board looks to the future

The full Ballina Chamber of Commerce board at the Ballina Coast & Hinterland Northern Star Business Excellence Awards in 2015.

A new board have been elected for the Ballina Chamber of Commerce

Bring home the bacon at Northern Rivers festival

PIGS WILL FLY: A giant pig was joined by Alstonville Lions Club’s Les Wiles and Summerland Credit Union’s Belindar Cordery and others to promote this Sunday’s Alstonville Family Festival.

Get piggy at the Alstonville Family Festival

Welcome to Northern Rivers’ first golf course of its kind

IT’S OPEN: The Ballina Disc Golf Course at Bicentennial Gardens was officially opened last week by US-born disc golf player Jesse Amos, who pushed for the course, and Ballina Shire councillor Jeff Johnson.

Reports of at least one hole-in-one already

Barnaby Joyce talks Johnny Depp's dogs in Tweed

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce talks about Johnny Depp's dogs Pistol and Boo...

Road rage caught on Dashcam

Attack with a baseball bat caught on Dashcam

Video of a violent road rage incident in Orange last December.

Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce tour Rockhampton sweet potato farm

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce visit a...

Perfect time to invest in Northern Rivers property

The Northern Rivers rental market is tighter than Sydney making it the perfect time for investors to get better returns out of property than superannuation or banks deposits.

Low interest rates and tight rental market are prime time to invest