Two of Ballina High School’s three light amphibious resupply cargo vessels on the Richmond River yesterday.
Two of Ballina High School’s three light amphibious resupply cargo vessels on the Richmond River yesterday. Graham Broadhead

Marine studies a bit of a LARC

BALLINA High School students had a lark on the Richmond River in Ballina yesterday.

The marine studies students were on board two of the school’s three light amphibious resupply cargo vehicles – LARCs which can go on land and on water.

The former Australian army vehicles were being used to reposition buoys used to mark the Gallagher Fish Feeding Reserve on the southern side of the river near the Burns Point Ferry ramp. It is believed the marker buoys had been moved by vandals.

Head teacher Mick O’Connor said the three vehicles – all built in the 1960s – were a great asset to the school’s acclaimed Marine Discovery Centre.

Importantly, the LARCs allow the students to get on the river so it becomes their classroom, he said.

“And they give the kids a bit of a buzz when they go for a ride in them,” he said.

The first LARC arrived in 2005, and the other two were given to the school by the Department of Defence in an inter-department transfer last year.

Mr O’Connor said two of the vehicles were operational, but canopies needed to be fitted so they could be used more regularly.

The third LARC was currently being worked on by mechanics.

He said the vehicles had been out of service for 35 years when the school got them.

They are powered by a 300hp V8 engine, and Ballina Shire Council and Boral mechanics have volunteered their time to maintain the vehicles.

CEO of recreational fishing lobby group ECO fishers, Ken Thurlow, was on board one of the LARCs when the buoys were replaced yesterday.

He remembered being on an amphibious vehicle in Lismore during the 1954 flood.

Meanwhile, the Gallagher Fish Feeding Reserve was established in 2006, named after ferryman and former commercial fisherman John Gallagher.

It is a joint project between NSW Fisheries, the Burns Point Ferry drivers, and Ballina High School as an education and research site.

Students tag and release bream, tarwhine and flathead, and the tags are returned by fishers to a research station in Cronulla.



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