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Byron Shire
May 14, 2021

Bangalow set to pool its resources

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MAYDAY – MAYDAY – One hundred years ago today

One hundred years ago this week, around noon on Saturday 14 May 1921, the 2,000 tonne steamship Wollongbar ran aground on Belongil beach.

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[author]Christobel Munson[/author]

Local residents from nine to 90 are all seeking to be part of the solution for Bangalow’s creek pool. While some vividly remember the past, others look to the future of what was once the town’s main attraction, ahead of a community forum on the subject on Tuesday February 7.

A group of kids calling themselves the Ninjas have been putting out their message to ‘save the pool’ up and down Bangalow’s main street, scrawling their slogans on pieces of cardboard or chalking them on the footpath, desperate to be heard. At the other end of the age-scale, 90-year-old Russell Blanch, who has lived all his life in Bangalow, reflected on when the creek swimming pool was the place every child in town used to hang out.

‘We had three-day-long swimming carnivals at the pool, with dancing on a sprung floor in the park in the evenings, with diving exhibitions from a 10-metre high diving tower, and a huge slippery dip.

‘The place used to be called The Waterfront, and everyone would be there.’

When the pool was opened in 1924, the entire town, including a brass band, came out for a procession through town. It has been a focal point for the social life of  Bangalow ever since. Over many decades, thousands of local children were taught to swim by local swimming and diving champion, Bruce Beckinsale.

His daughter Lyn Smith vividly remembers the hard work it took for the Bangalow community to build the pool, and the maintenance it needed.

‘I remember when the concrete walls were built,’ Lyn says.

‘There were so many truckloads of concrete, and anyone who had any bits of reo, or even iron beds, threw them in to help strengthen the walls. They’re solid alright.’

Today, the weir spillway is cracked, but still standing, despite days of flooding.

Three community groups are working together to organise the February 7 event: The Bangalow Historical Society, the Bangalow Land and Rivercare Group, and the Bangalow Community Alliance.

Their aim for the forum is to provide a structured environment where the community can hear all points of view on the current situation. These will include representatives speaking on heritage and social values, environmental concerns such as the displacement of platypus families, engineering issues, plus the governance perspective from the Fisheries  department and Rous Water.

It is the intention of the organising team that the forum will identify the major issues and priorities involved.

MC for the night Mick O’Regan said, ‘We’re hoping that an action-oriented outcome will be the result of the forum, in which all parties involved will come to understand the urgent need to deal with a situation which has been ignored for too long.’

The forum will be held at the Bangalow Anglican Church Hall Tuesday February 7 from 6pm.

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