ARRIVAL (right and above left): Robert Perry of Ballina took this photo of one of the Las Balsas rafts when it arrived in Ballina on November 21, 1973.
ARRIVAL (right and above left): Robert Perry of Ballina took this photo of one of the Las Balsas rafts when it arrived in Ballina on November 21, 1973.

Historic raft gets reprieve

A RAFT from the 1973 Las Balsas expedition, which has the potential to be "one of Ballina's best tourist attractions", has been saved.

The raft is housed at the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum.

There had been some initial discussions at council about whether the raft should be removed, because it was assessed as not having any local heritage value.

But this week councillors voted to keep the iconic raft.

"It's a wonderful asset to our community," Cr Jeff Johnson said.

"This is one of the main tourist attractions of Ballina and it's the centrepiece of our museum.

 

"We just need to promote it more.

"We should be proud of it."

However deputy mayor Sue Meehan said the council should be doing more to make the museum a "fair dinkum, quality museum".

"I feel that the building is a disappointment," she said.

"It's an ad hoc space."

Cr Meehan also expressed concern that the Las Balsas raft - "an interesting novelty" - seemed to be given better treatment than the Florrie and the Richmond vessels, "which have related to the people of our community for over 100 years".

 

AT LEFT: One of the Las Balsas rafts awaits a tow across the Ballina Bar.
AT LEFT: One of the Las Balsas rafts awaits a tow across the Ballina Bar.

The council also voted to seek funding for independent advice to ensure the museum's collection is "maintained effectively within the available space".

 

But Cr Keith Williams said he had no concerns about the current management.

"I think the volunteers have done an outstanding job to create what they have created," he said.

The council will also engage an architect to prepare a concept design and cost estimates for extensions to the northern side of the museum and the enclosure of the western side.



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