Ron Creber, curator manager of the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum, with the riverboat MV Florrie, parts of which will be renovated.
Ron Creber, curator manager of the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum, with the riverboat MV Florrie, parts of which will be renovated. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Push to restore and protect historic river boats at Ballina

THE role the MV Florrie and the PV Richmond pilot vessels played in developing and shaping the Northern Rivers is a part of history that could never be replaced.

Their historical significance is all too obvious to the members of the Ballina Naval Historical Museum who are desperate to see both boats restored and properly protected from the elements and further deterioration.

Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum curator and manager Ron Creber said both vessels, particularly the MV Florrie, were of huge historical value.

"Once this is gone, this type of vessel, it will never be seen again," he said.

The Ballina Shire Council, which owns both historic timber vessels housed at the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum, recently passed a recommendation giving in principle approval for the museum's plans to restore and build enclosures for both vessels.

Mr Creber said the museum had been applying for grants and saving for the upgrades since 2007.

The upgrades include completely enclosing both vessels and making the displays part of the museum.

Due to the MV Florrie's extensive damage, Mr Creber said only the stern and bow would be kept and restored, while the midsection would be removed and turned into an interpretive section where museum visitors could see scale models and material showing the Florrie in various stages of her "working life."

The Florrie worked on the Richmond River carrying cedar from inland to the coast for export for nearly a century until she was donated to the people of Ballina in the late 1970s.

No one knew quite what to do with the old ship, so the Ballina council of the day had the Florrie mounted on concrete blocks on the levee bank in Ballina, where she was exposed to harsh weather with little maintenance for more than 20 years.

The PV Richmond served for over half a century on the Richmond River as a pilot vessel for the 140 ships that would visit Ballina each month.



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