PRIME VIEW: Marine Rescue tower volunteer Meg Luckie starts operations in the new tower in Ballina.
PRIME VIEW: Marine Rescue tower volunteer Meg Luckie starts operations in the new tower in Ballina. Marc Stapelberg

Ballina marine tower takes over from Sydney

The sounds of Ballina Marine Tower Out echoed around the room as Marine Rescue volunteers communicated from the new control room.

At 5:30am this morning the tower took command from Sydney and officially went live.

It sees the culmination of nine months of construction work and many years of campaigning come to a victorious climax.

Marine Rescue NSW emergency systems manager Andrew Cribb said the building was state of the art and this had coincided with a much bigger coverage increase of the radios.

"As far as this area it is very crucial because our next boat base north of here is Brunswick so there is a lot of coastline that needs good access to the boat bases and they need to be supported by radio operations,” he said.

"What it means is 24 hours a day we are there listening.

"We are listening further out to sea and filling out the blindspots up and down the coast.

"So it means if a boatie calls in on those emergency channels, the VHF 16, it is going to get heard and it is going get activated quicker to get to them to assist them.”

He said that at night Sydney would watch the bar with live night vision cameras.

Ballina Marine Rescue unit commander John Donohue said it was a day he thought he would never see as he had been involved since 1998.

"Today is the first time I have started to think it has happened because I haven't been game enough to believe it before now,” he said.

He said the difference between the two towers was incomparable and the best description he could give of the temporary accommodation was hell.

Ballina Shire Council project co-ordinator Chris Allison said the project ran smoothly during the nine months.

"You can't miss it - it shimmers, it is fantastic.”

He said the demolition of the old tower would take place Thursday and Friday next week with the pathway around the old tower closed during construction hours.



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