Lifestyle

Who pays the ferry master?

JOHN Gallagher could have the best job in the world.

His "office" has ultimate water views and so he spends his days (or nights, depending on the shift) taking in the beautiful scenery of the Richmond River.

He also gets to meet "heaps of interesting people" while keeping an eye out for dolphins, sharks and fish.

Mr Gallagher is a ferry master on Burns Point Ferry at Ballina.

It's a job the 67-year-old has been doing for 10 years.

"I was a commercial fisherman for 45 years, but when I sold my licence back to the gov- ernment I wasn't sure what to do," he said.

 

HEAVEN SENT: John Gallagher in his office, left; the river at Ballina, below left. Below right, the Burns Point ferry.
HEAVEN SENT: John Gallagher in his office, left; the river at Ballina, below left. Below right, the Burns Point ferry.

"Then this came up and I've been here ever since.

 

"Getting this job was like something from the gods.

"I love it."

Ferry drivers, particularly those qualified to operate wire-drawn ferries like the one at Burns Point, are few and far between.

Drivers are required to have a unique set of skills, such as a licence to operate as a master or engineer of a vehicular ferry in chains, or a Marine Engine Driver Grade 3 licence for restricted vessels in chains.

Ballina Shire Council's human resources manager, Kelly Brown, said the council was now looking for casual ferry drivers to help relieve drivers during the busy holiday peri- ods.

"We need our staff to be able to take leave," she said.

"So there are positions available.

 

"But yes, because the skills required are unique, it can be difficult to get people to fill those jobs."

Mr Gallagher said working on the ferry was an ideal job for people who loved the water.

He said it was also good for people who enjoyed variety in their work.

"I had one lady, about five years ago, who was giving birth in an ambulance while I was driving the ferry," he said.

"There was also a break-in at one of the caravan parks once, and the police rang me and asked me to keep an eye out for these three fellows.

"I had them on the ferry and when they realised the police were waiting on the other side of the river, they were about to jump into the water.

"Then the policeman yelled out, 'I wouldn't do that if I were you'.

"The fellows got handcuffed to the ferry railing ... it certainly kept the ferry crowd entertained."

Mr Gallagher loves the ferry and hopes a bridge is never built to connect South Ballina to Ballina proper.

"I don't see this (ferry) dying for a long time yet."

Topics:  burns point ferry, richmond river



Join the Community.

Get your local news, your way.

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

ABS data reveals regional job woes

JOB DROUGHT: New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal there are fewer full-time job opportunities in regional NSW.

ABS data reveals fewer than 5000 full-time regional NSW created

Day care celebrates star qualities

Miss Freckles Day Care Coffs Harbour operator Jo Mills with young Bella Bruchard will be celebrating National Family Day Care Week.

Day care celebrates star qualities

More Essential Energy work stoppages on the cards

The future of some Essential Energy employees in Coffs Harbour is still in limbo.

Essential Energy rejects union offer to go to Fair Work Commission

Latest deals and offers


Blake Lively Film Shot on Gold Coast

Blake Lively in The Shallows.

New trailer for shark thriller The Shallows starring Blake Lively.

Dash Cam of Head-on Crash

Head-on crash after overtaking in fog.

Disaster as driver overtakes in fog at night.

Spirit of Tasmania Ferry in Rough Seas

Rough seas toss ferry around.

Passengers scream as ferry rides through high seas.

Korora property provides the resort lifestyle

Live the resort lifestyle at Korora

Like to live in your own resort?

Renting harder in Coffs than Sydney

HIGH DEMAND: Coffs Harbour rental properties are in higher demand than in Sydney.

Coffs Harbour’s rental vacancy rate at lowest level in eight years

How a sacked real estate agent made $725k in four months

Agent is now under investigation by the industry watchdog