Anger over ferry breakdown

HUNDREDS of tourists and local residents were forced to add hours on to their journeys after the Burns Point Ferry at Ballina broke down this week.

It is understood a cable on the ferry snapped on Monday.

People could still get to Ballina via Wardell, which adds about an extra 30km to the trip.

But with heavy holiday traffic choking the Pacific Highway, many drivers spent more than an hour just getting to Ballina from South Ballina.

Marine Rescue Ballina commander Norm Lannoy lives at South Ballina and said the breakdown of the ferry couldn’t have happened at a worse time.

“There were people everywhere over here,” he said.

“What if there was an accident, either on the road or on the beach, over on this side? The emergency services just wouldn’t be able to get here, unless they got the chopper.

“Also, from a Marine Rescue point of view, we just can’t get to our boat. If something happened, we wouldn’t get there quickly enough.

“I had to go into town for something and it took me an hour to get there and an hour to get home.”

Ballina Shire Council’s civil services group manager, John Truman, confirmed that a cable had to be replaced on the ferry.
“We have managed to source one from Newcastle,” he said.

But president of the South Ballina and District Community Association, Lorraine Leuckel, said the situation was “absolutely outrageous”.

“It’s not just the extra kilometres that we have to drive, it’s the time and the inconvenience,” she said.

“There are a lot of unhappy people over here.”

That includes Rikki Grinberg, who is owner of the Ballina Beach Village caravan park. She said visitors had cancelled or not turned up because of the “hassle” of having the ferry out of action.

“The ferry, during a peak period like Easter, brings around 100 cars to and from South Ballina per hour,” she said.
I am losing between $3000 and $12,000 a day in business.

“No small business is able to cope with those sorts of losses.

“There was a further problem with a lack of signage at the Wardell turn-off to alert drivers to the fact that they could not access Ballina this way.

“Council should make the review of the ferry a priority.”

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