Bert Ranieri, of Alstonville, with the wallet and contents he fished out of the river in Ballina.
Bert Ranieri, of Alstonville, with the wallet and contents he fished out of the river in Ballina. Doug Eaton

Angler lands a wallet in river

IT WAS certainly the most unusual thing Bert Ranieri has ever hooked on his fishing line.

A wallet – lost for almost 15 years – was the catch of the day for the Alstonville fisherman on Tuesday.

He had been fishing from his boat in the Richmond River at Ballina, near the Burns Point Ferry, when he felt a tug on his line.

“I go fishing about once a week now that I’m retired,” he said.

“I generally drift for flathead.

“I felt a jerk on my fishing line and thought it must have been a big flattie.

“But it was a wallet.

“My hook happened to catch on one of the corners.

“When I got home I forced it open and saw there was a licence, a membership card for the Ballina RSL Club, two video store member cards and $30 in $10 and $5 notes.

“The expiry date on the licence is 1996, so the wallet’s been in the river for a long time – about 14 years for a start.

“I bet this bloke was pretty upset when he realised he’d dropped his wallet in the water.”

The wallet is in a pretty sad state, and has obviously been on the bottom of the Richmond River for many years.

But Mr Ranieri is on a mission to find its owner.

The name on the licence is Jason Greenhalgh, listed at a Ballina address and born in January 1973.

“I’ve given the wallet a good clean, and the cards and the cash as well,” Mr Ranieri said.

“I’ve got all the mud and slush off it.

“I’ve caught plenty of unusual things when I’ve been fishing, including a couple of anchors and a good 15 metres of rope.

“But this is the first time I’ve hooked a wallet.”

However, it’s not the first time that Mr Ranieri has found a lost wallet and dutifully returned it – money and all.

He has come across four lost wallets over the years, including one which had about $400 inside.

“I would never think about keeping the money,” he said.

“It’s just not right.

“I had a mate who left his wallet on the top of his car and forgot about it and drove off.

“It had $600 in it.

“He eventually got the wallet back, but minus the money, of course.”

If you believe Mr Ranieri’s catch is your wallet, or you know Jason Greenhalgh, please contact The Northern Star on 6620 0554 and we will put you in touch with Mr Ranieri.

And – just for the record – Mr Ranieri doesn’t just catch wallets on his fishing trips.

“I caught a few bream and a flathead the other day,” he said.

“As long as I get a feed, I’m happy.”

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