VIVID MEMORIES: Peter Hackett with his dog Bella, of Ballina. A younger version of Mr Hackett is seen to the right in this photograph we published from our archives of the 1954 Lismore Floods.
VIVID MEMORIES: Peter Hackett with his dog Bella, of Ballina. A younger version of Mr Hackett is seen to the right in this photograph we published from our archives of the 1954 Lismore Floods. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Torrent of memory for Peter

A PHOTO published in the Northern Star one week ago yesterday brought back a flood of memories for Ballina man Peter Hackett.

The sharp black-and-white image, quite possibly taken by then cadet photographer Darcy McFadden, showed a group of young people wading through floodwaters in the streets of Lismore during that epic deluge of '54.

For Peter, the visual reminder opened his mental floodgates, to create a torrent of memories from that time.

Peter himself is pictured to the right of the line-up of young folk, with a girl raised upon his shoulders.

Fellow Ballina Seagulls player and renowned shipwright Bobby McLaren stands at the left of the photo, carrying a woman "piggy-back".

According to Peter, the two young men travelled from Ballina that day to help out a bunch of mates from their first grade Seagulls football side who lived in the flood- ravaged city.

Up the old Ballina cutting they drove, around the winding bends in Peter's A-Model Ford.

"It would go up that hill in top gear," he recalled.

Of the Seagulls that lived in Lismore, names like Johnny Whalen and Merv Beddoes spring to mind.

"We just went up there to help out a bunch of mates," Peter said.

The Seagulls side, including young men like Jim Fox and John Savage, went on in subsequent years to great success and were presented with the prestigious Clayton Cup in 1961 for best-performing country rugby league side.

That year they won both minor and major premierships and Peter remembers literally hundreds of fans watching the team go through their motions at training, and of course many more coming to see them at actual games.

Being downright frightened of green tree frogs, Peter was the brunt of a gag or two. After one exhausting training session, he asked for the soap while in the shower.

John Whalen passed him a green frog instead and with a hoot and holler Peter raced outside in the nude.



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