The Big Prawn at Ballina.
The Big Prawn at Ballina.

Feelers out for Big Prawn

THE Big Prawn should be put on top of the new $1.7 million coast guard tower in Ballina, a tourist operator has suggested.

Rik Dillon from Amaze ‘n’ Place said the giant crustacean was ‘worth its weight in gold’ and should be saved.

“On top of the new coast guard tower would be the perfect spot for it,” he said.

“I’ve heard it’s going to be hard to move the Big Prawn, but if it can be done, then that’s the spot for it.

“You used to be able to go up into the eyes and look out, so it would be good if you could do that again.”

But Ballina mayor Phillip Silver said he didn’t think it was a very good idea.

“Let’s just leave it at that,” he said.

Ballina Shire Council is preparing to spend $1.6 million to build a new tower for the Ballina Flotilla of the Australian Voluntary Coast Guard. The coast guard is fundraising to get the rest of the money needed for the project.

Mr Dillon’s business is in Alstonville, but he said saving the Big Prawn would benefit the entire shire.

“I hated it when it went up, but it’s worth a fortune in publicity,” he said.

“It’s really put us on the map.”

Ballina Tourism and Hospitality secretary, Dave Heggie, supported Mr Dillon’s idea.

“We’ve got to bring people in to Ballina,” he said.

“It’s all very well to say that the Big Prawn should go on the bypass, but we need to get people off the highway.

“If the prawn was somewhere in the centre of Ballina, it would really lift the profile of the town. And the coast guard tower is ideal. Trawlers are going past all the time.”

“The prawn connection is an ideal link with the fishermen who rely on the coast guard as their emergency back-up.

“This unique use of the prawn would also raise the profile of the coast guard, increasing the fundraising abilities of this vital, voluntary service.”

Mr Heggie said it would be worth the ‘small extra expense’ of moving the prawn to the coast guard.

“Let’s combine two great icons of the ocean – the life saving coast guard and the Big Prawn,” he said.

However, Ballina coast guard commander Norm Lannoy has scoffed at the suggestion.

He said the way the tower has been designed all the operational antennas where on top of the building, which would be crushed up under the weight of the Big Prawn if moved there.

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