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Byron Shire
February 8, 2023

Ballina’s old marine watchtower closes down

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An artist’s impression of the winning design for the new Ballina marine rescue tower by local firm Dominic Finlay Jones Architects. Photo supplied
An artist’s impression of the winning design for the new Ballina marine rescue tower by local firm Dominic Finlay Jones Architects. Photo supplied

Ballina’s ‘leaning tower’ for marine rescue operations will be closed from Monday after it was declared dangerous to volunteers, while mayor David Wright has pleaded with the state premier to urgently fund a long-planned replacement building.

Marine Rescue NSW has decided to close the radio tower building after several accidents in the old building over the years, including a recent one where a volunteer was injured and concussed while climbing the stairs.

The radio control room will be relocated temporarily to a nearby building used by Ballina Marine Rescue, which does not have a view of marine craft, till funding is found to go ahead with the project.

Yesterday Cr Wright told media he’d telephoned and talked to premier Mike Baird about the urgency of the problem and urged him to speed up state funding for the project. The premier in turn had asked for all the documentation to be sent to him.

The new tower, along with a carpark, toilets and drainage works, is expected to cost about $2.3 million, with Ballina Shire Council providing $1 million and the council has applied to the Federal Government’s Stronger Regions Fund for the extra $1 million.

He said council had already spent just over $1 million on the project and plans were ready to go for tender once funding was guaranteed.

‘We’ve got all the plans done, tenders ready but can’t seem to get funding to complete it,’ he told the ABC.

He said Mr Baird understood the problem, having visited the site during the last election campaign, so the mayor was ‘very hopeful something will be on offer’ soon.

The new tower, along with a carpark, toilets and drainage works, is expected to cost about $2.3 million, with Ballina Shire Council providing $1 million and the council has applied to the federal government’s Stronger Regions Fund for the extra $1 million.

The tower, which watches over 2,300 vessels across the northern NSW coastline each year, is affectionately known as ‘The Leaning Tower of Ballina’ for its obvious lean.

The new tower will sit at the top of Lighthouse Beach with commanding views up and down the coast.


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