PRESERVE THE RAFT: Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum volunteers Robert Jones and John Colville with the Las Balsas raft on display in the museum.
PRESERVE THE RAFT: Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum volunteers Robert Jones and John Colville with the Las Balsas raft on display in the museum. Graham Broadhead

Battle to preserve relics

THE raft from the 1973 Las Balsas expedition looks set to stay at the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum, despite some fears that it might be removed.

Ballina councillors recently held a workshop to discuss the future of the council-owned vessels at the museum - the historic river boat MV Florrie, the former pilot vessel PV Richmond and the raft.

The raft was assessed as having no heritage value.

But according to a council report on the matter, to be discussed at tomorrow's meeting, the majority of councillors feel that the raft has "an important link with Ballina", and want it to stay at the museum.

Meanwhile the councillors have also expressed support for the retention of the Richmond, which does have important local heritage values.

The vessel provided pilot services to the Port of Ballina from 1932 to 1981.

To better preserve the Richmond, the existing building would need to be extended to fully enclose it in its present location.

Meanwhile, the MV Florrie also has important heritage values.

From the 1880s to the early 1970s, the Florrie was used as a cargo and passenger vessel on the Richmond River.

But there is a high cost in conserving it because of its poor physical condition.

One option that will be considered by the council is to partly retain the Florrie, and this is supported by the museum. The western end of the museum, where the vessel is located, would need to be closed in.

Tomorrow councillors will vote on whether to engage an architect to prepare concept designs and cost estimates.



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