THE sail has been hoisted, and it's time for the winds of community support to get behind a move to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the arrival of the Las Balsas raft expedition in Ballina.

On Tuesday night 25 people gathered at the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum to discuss ideas for an event to be held in November.

About six of them were in Ballina when the rafts arrived, and were keen to share some stories of that day.

It was decided to create the informal group, Friends of Las Balsas and a Facebook page.

Cr Jeff Johnson and Tony Gilding, owner of the tourist attraction, Macadamia Castle at Knockrow, called the meeting.

"For an anniversary event to happen, it's going to take a lot of community support," Cr Johnson said.

ARRIVAL: The late Robert Perry, of Ballina, took this photo of one of the Las Balsas rafts when it arrived in Ballina on November 21, 1973.
ARRIVAL: The late Robert Perry, of Ballina, took this photo of one of the Las Balsas rafts when it arrived in Ballina on November 21, 1973. Contributed

In the background as he spoke was the Las Balsas raft, the centrepiece of the museum.

Curator Ron Creber said the raft provided a "real wow factor" for visitors.

Three rafts crewed by a total of 12 men left Ecuador in May 1973 to sail across the Pacific following the prevailing winds and ocean currents. They arrived in Ballina on November 21, 1973.

Some of the ideas put forward for an event included a street parade, raft race, sail past by a flotilla of craft, an art competition and getting school students to build a replica of the raft.

It was decided to approach government representatives at all levels to ask about grant funding.

The Friends of Las Balsas will meet again in a few weeks.

Anyone with photos and stories about the rafts can contact Tony Gilding at the Macadamia Castle on 6687 8432.



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