Garry Vidler, of Casino, at yesterday’s handover of the brass bell from the tugboat Protector to the Ballina Maritime Museum.
Garry Vidler, of Casino, at yesterday’s handover of the brass bell from the tugboat Protector to the Ballina Maritime Museum.

Protector bell given new home

YESTERDAY was the day the bell tolled, somewhat figuratively, at the Ballina Maritime Museum.

The formal handing over of the large and heavy brass bell from the tugboat Protector, lost at sea on New Year’s Day in 1901, took place at the museum in the presence of some of the descendants of the seamen who perished when the boat went down near the Ballina bar.

Nearly 10 years ago, North Coast man Garry Vidler and his diving mate, Des McDonald, discovered the bell while diving off Lennox Point.

“I kept it for a few years,” Mr Vidler said.

“But now I feel it’s time for the public to see it.

“There are a lot of descendants who are very interested in it and it has a proper home now.”

Sandra Patch’s great grandfather, Tobias Tobiasen, was a 47-year-old mate on the Protector who originally came from Norway.

“My grandmother was only a year old when her father died,” she said.

“So I never knew much about our Norwegian connection.”

Lester Phillips’s grandfather, Dave Phillips, was a 28-year-old deckhand when he lost his life on the Protector.

“The discovery makes your mind go back to many years ago,” he said.

“I think it’s great that we can see the bell forever now.”

Ron Creber, of the Ballina Maritime Museum, said it was a fantastic discovery.

“We will mount it with a picture of the Protector,” he said.



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