Ballina slipping back to glory days of boating
By MARY MANN email@example.com
WHEN Michael Cox moved to Ballina six years ago, he was amazed at how under-utilised the Richmond River was.
Ever since then it has been his dream to tap into Ballina's boating past and bring it back to life.
A shipwright by trade, and owner of Boatworx Australia, Mr Cox has just bought Ballina Slipway and Marine Services, in a bid to bring more boatbuilding projects back to Ballina and make the town a 'real destination for boaties again'.
"Ballina has a real history for it, but in the past 10 years or so the boating scene has kind of died," Mr Cox said.
"We've got a great location and it's a shame to see it not used to its full potential.
"When I first moved here I did some research on Ballina's boating history ... and people tell me the slipway yard used to be just full of boats, but now a lot of projects and travelling boaties are going to Yamba or the Gold Coast instead."
The slipway custom-builds boats up to 25m long, and does repairs, refits and painting.
Mr Cox said he was in the process of 'cleaning up' the business in the Smith Drive Industrial Estate and that plans to build a small marina-style pontoon at the site, which is by Emigrant Creek, were underway.
But he said in order for the town to fully tap into the potential of the Richmond River, it needed a marina.
Many boating people had dismissed the town because it did not have the infrastructure to support them, he said.
Ballina Shire Council recently signed off on a master plan for the Richmond River foreshore area which included plans for a marina development at the current trawler harbour site.
When constructed, the marina is expected to bring more tourists to the area.
That would allow Ballina to cash-in on its prime riverside position.