Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum curator Ron Creber (left) and Clem MacMahon, president of the museum.
Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum curator Ron Creber (left) and Clem MacMahon, president of the museum. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Museum takes out award

THE navy and ocean are in Clem MacMahon's blood.

"I did five years naval service in World War II and have sailed for most of my life," Mr MacMahon, the president of Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum, told The Northern Star.

His love for the ocean and admiration of Ballina's rich maritime history led him 22 years ago to volunteer at the museum. He's been there since.

"At the turn of the 19th century, Ballina was the second busiest port on the NSW coast," he said.

"I've had an interest in being able to preserve the maritime history of the area for some time."

The museum has models of ships that worked in the area and of some that were shipwrecked on the sand bar.

Another Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum volunteer, Baxter Williams, has been there since the museum opened its doors 29 years ago.

Such dedication has earned the museum a NSW Government Heritage Volunteer Award.

Another North Coast organisation to win one of the awards was Cape Byron Friends volunteer program. Its members help tourists interpret natural and cultural heritage in the Cape Byron State Conservation Area.

The awards were given out at a ceremony in Sydney on Thursday.

Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum is almost entirely self-funded and it will not receive any funding as a result of winning the award.

However Mr MacMahon said it was an important stepping stone.

"(The award) gives us a great weapon when we're applying for funding in the future because it's state recognition," he said.

Federal grants are highly contested and Mr MacMahon said the NSW Heritage Award could give his organisation the edge.



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