If ever alarm bells were sounded for Ballina and ignored, they surely were those of former mayor and West Ballina farmer, Bert Barlow, in the 1976 newspaper report on yet another flood plain outrage as quoted herein.
‘Silting of Fishery Creek had caused the worst flooding on record on the southern approaches to Ballina. Fishery Creek could not cope with the flow after Emigrant Creek overtopped the water back up along the raised highway causing a dam effect. This caused caravan parks and motels to be flooded.
‘Similarly, water backed up on the other side of the highway entering motels when there was not sufficient escape route to the river.
‘Mangroves and silting had swallowed Fishery Creek which was two and a half miles to the canal as against the 13 mile route taken by Emigrant Creek.’
Authorities were taken to task when these flood waters powered up the Tintenbar valley into and under village housing. Yet major floodplain transformation surged ahead, devoid of any duty of care to affected landholders over the next 45 years.
Barlows Road construction commenced from River Street, coupled with levee banks and floodgates on the western side of Fishery Creek that is now heavily urbanised on nearby reclaimed floodways, including Ballina Quays.
Next to fall was the former Emigrant and Fishery Creek junction and its shortcut to Ballina, choked into oblivion at the newly built Flathead Lane turn-off.
In close proximity lay the new Pacific Highway from Newrybar headwaters to Woodburn, its total flooding impact not yet felt.
Of disbelief is a proposed $7.8 million Barlows Road upgrade and mini-bypass reaching north to Tamarind Drive at Cumbalum.
The opportunity arises at upcoming elections to shaft the masters of disasters in favour of candidates prepared to govern for all Shire ratepayers and not the select few.