RACES THE BEST BET: Keeping dry at the Ballina New Year race meeting yesterday are (from%left) Shauna, 8, and Sam Renwick, 11,
RACES THE BEST BET: Keeping dry at the Ballina New Year race meeting yesterday are (from%left) Shauna, 8, and Sam Renwick, 11,

Drenched campers escape to the races

By MARY MANN mary.mann@northernstar.com.au "OUR tents are all soggy!"

That's what 12-year-old Nikki Shepherd and a group of her siblings and cousins said yesterday as they hid under umbrellas at the New Year's Day races at Ballina.

Nikki and her family are holidaying in Ballina, camping out at a local caravan park.

However, heavy rain over the past few days meant there was hardly a single centimetre of their tents that wasn't damp.

"We were quite desperate to get out of the rain, so we thought why not make a day of it and come to the races," said Nikki's grandmother, Dawn Renwick, of Noosa in Queensland.

"Our tents are wet and soggy and the kids are so full of energy.

"We thought the races would be a good opportunity to get under cover and entertain the kids at the same time." And it didn't appear they were the only ones.

Dozens of families crammed into the bar area upstairs at the Ballina Jockey Club, where they could watch the horse races and stay out of the wet weather.

The bad news is the forecast doesn't look much better for holidaymakers for the rest of the week, with the rain expected to last for several days.

Severe weather warnings are current for the Northern Rivers, which means holidaymakers can't even use the local beaches. Most are still closed due to large swells and strong rips.

But all is not lost.

Nikki said there was still lots of fun things you could do in bad weather.

"We've been doing things indoors, like going to the movies and going 10-pin bowling, which is really fun," she said. "And we've been watching the horses today, putting bets on with dad, a dollar a race."

The Bureau of Meteorology expects showers to last on the Northern Rivers until the end of the week.

There is the chance of isolated thunderstorms today towards the north.



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