UNUSUAL CATCH: A 4WD vehicle is retrieved from North Creek at the Cawarra St boat ramp in Ballina. Photo Graham Broadhead / Ballina Shire Advocate
UNUSUAL CATCH: A 4WD vehicle is retrieved from North Creek at the Cawarra St boat ramp in Ballina. Photo Graham Broadhead / Ballina Shire Advocate Graham Broadhead

Ballina kayak trip ends with paddler's car in the creek

A REGULAR paddle around Ballina island for two men ended with one kayaker's car ending up in the drink.

The local man, aged in his 60s, had just finished tying one ocean-going kayak on to the roof of his Ford Courier 4WD vehicle with his mate, and were preparing to load the second vessel, when a bystander - an off-duty policeman - called out that the car was on the move down the Cawarra St boat ramp.

It's one of those embarrassing moments that ends up on television ads for insurance companies - though the owner of the vehicle was in some shock to see his insured car sink into the creek.

Luckily, no one was in the car at the time and no one was standing in the vehicle's path.

The owner of the vehicle said the handbrake was on but for a reason unknown, it failed and the car "very quickly", he said, ended up in about 3m of water off the end of the boat ramp.

A NSW Maritime officer was called in to assess if the submerged vehicle was going to be a navigation hazard for other boaties, but its proximity to the shore and the recovery time meant there was no need to place warning buoys in the creek.

The incident happened at about 10am on Friday morning close to high tide, but it took until about 2pm for the vehicle to be recovered, following a report to police and the insurance company.

A salvage diver was called in to assist the tow truck operator in getting the vehicle back on dry land.

It didn't take long, according to one boatie, for the sunken vehicle to act as an artificial reef and attract the attention of fish.



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