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Our History

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Our Maritime History

Timeline

Brief History of The Port of Ballina

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1905
1905
North Coast Steam & Navigation Co is formed with the Amalgamation of two smaller companies Clarence & Richmond Steam and John See & Co other fleets are added later.
Offering regular freight and passenger services with larger faster Vessels North Coast Steam had it all and dominated the trade. For the next thirty years. If you wanted to travel to Ballina it was travel by sea or walk.
1906
1906
The canal making Ballina a man- made island is completed.
The canal was constructed to allow a safer passage for cane punts From North Creek to the Richmond River, Prior to the canal being built, punts had to tackle the breaking water at the mouth of North Creek. (Messingham Bridge).
1909
1909
301 ships enter the Richmond River.
1917
1917
Davis & Burgess takes over the Fenwick Line and as the Richmond River Shipping Co begins operating a daily return trip to Lismore.
1939-1945
1939-1945
World War II. Ballina Slipway & Engineering Co on the banks of the river becomes an important facility for the war effort. Repairing ships of all three services, including ships of the U.S. Army Small Ships Fleet.
1941
1941
The pilot station is moved from Pilot Point (Shaws Bay Caravan Park) to a site adjacent to this museum.
1945
1945
S.S. Araucaria makes the last river passenger steamer trip from Lismore to Swan Hill.
1954
1954
Major flood destroys the North Coast Steam wharf at Lismore
It is never repaired and the Company files for voluntary liquidation Paying shareholders a healthy $4.25 for every $2.00 share.
1970
1970
Ships still use the river taking out sugar and timber until the Government removed the dredging service. NCSNC wharf demolished
1979
1979
The Pilot Station closes.
1889
1889
Construction of the break-waters commerce and a timber bridge with a lift span built from East Ballina to Ballina.
1886
1886
Fenwick House (next to Shaws Bay Hotel) built.
Originally overlooked the Shaws Bay shipping channel.
1885
1885
It is proposed that breakwaters be built at the mouth of the river
1884
1884
Ballina Island replaced Shaws Bay for major port activities. Population of Ballina 571, Shaws Bay 30.
1882
1882
Florrie wrecked on the bar. Later salvaged by Tom Fenwick, she goes on to become the longest serving vessel in Australia Almost I 00 years. She is now housed t the western end of the museum.
1880
1880
As settlement grew and farmers flooded in, other export opportunities started to develop. Cedar is still 'King``, but the Big Scrub was being cleared, now dairy produce and sugar was being shipped out and the Port of Ballina would become the third largest port in New South Wales in terms of ship movements and tonnage.
1879
1879
Lighthouse at North Head built
1878
1878
Improvements to the river entrance commence
1877
1877
Regular river service between Ballina and Lismore, three times per week commences. Later to become a daily run.
1875
1875
Clarence & Richmond Steam Navigation Co now has Eight vessels in service included in that are seven paddle wheelers, considered best for river bar crossing.
1874
1874
Enter Captain Tom Fenwick a Scot who was to leave his mark on the river for all time. He was not a man to mess with, a ruthless competitor and some would say with a violent streak, but all would say a man of courage and great seamanship. He soon had the bar trade and a fair slice of the river trade to himself
1873
1873
Nineteen sailing schooners are recorded as crossing out over the bar in a single day.
1870
1870
Steam tugs called drodgers begin to service the bar; steam in small ships was becoming popular, but on ocean going ships coal needed for the boilers took up too much valuable cargo space. There services must have quickened up ship movements as 9,000,000 cubic feet of timber was exported out in this year.
The tugs would cast off as soon as a schooner arrived off the bar To tout their business ``up, down and out`` was the cry and the price haggled, $50 if rough - $10 if calm. A government ferry service began operation from North Creek to Ballina
1869
1869
242 sailing ship and 12 steamships left with 3;000;000 super feet of cedar with delays extending over 17 days on clear the bar.
1866
1866
First temporary navigation light built at North Head
1863
1863
The first steamship the paddle steamer Rainbow crosses the bar (remember HMS Rainbow was the first ship 35 years earlier)
1861
1861
Land becomes available for selection (ownership) paving the Way for smaller land holding for cropping and dairying prior To now only larger squatter cattle stations existed.
1860
1860
The Grafton Steam & Navigation Co formed 1857, extends its Service to the Richmond River and becomes The Grafton and Richmond River Steam & Navigation Co.
1856
1856
With Cedar ``King of Commodities`` other ship owners in the south begin to flock to the north abandoning their south coastal trades.
1855
1855
Captain George Easton is appointed as the first pilot.
1851
1851
Joe Eyles opens the first hotel the Sawyer's Arms Hotel. Rum is the No I drink and properly the only one.
1855
1855
Much fuss has been made about the naming of Ballina, was it the Irish Catholics who settled from County Mayo in Northern Ireland with their own town of Ballina or was it a native word ‘bulloonah. Surveyor Peppercome was directed to lay out the site for a village BALLINA' The name was used officially in 1857 survey, but the Post Office remained Richmond River Heads up to 1868. Whilst the pilot Capt Easton was licenced as pilot for the Port of Richmond River. Whatever the name the river bar was no place for the faint hearted.
1850
1850
All tributaries of the Richmond River are now settled with Cedar Getters camps and the area has become the main source of this Valuable timber. The price keeps souring especially in the gold rich City of Melbourne. Joe Eyles had the fastest schooner the ’.Josephine’ on the Ballina/Melbourne run, with a round trip of only six weeks Including a stop in Sydney Town for back loading.
1847
1847
There are now four regular sail trading vessels bringing supplies and passengers to the Richmond River and taking timber out.
1844
1844
The first recorded shipwreck the schooner Northumberland lost on the Bar, 7th January.
1843
1843
William Yabsley (A name still synonymous with the area Re; Yabsley House Coraki). Became the first boat builder, building Pelican and using bullock Teams to haul logs.
1843
1843
Surveyor James Burnett coming north overland from Morton Bay his Job to survey a road link to the south, finding a settlement of rough huts and sawpits at that is now Shaws Bay
He names the settlement ``Deptford``.
1842
1842
The first Cedar- cutting parties arrive from the Clarence River area Onboard the Sally, these sawyers were soon joined by other parties Trekking overland from the north and south.
1828
1828
Captain Henry Rous, commanding HMS Rainbow, makes the first known crossing of the Richmond River bar. He explored up the river in the ship’s longboat to an area north of Broadwater known as Tuckean.
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Monday - Sunday: 09am ‒ 04pm
7 Days per week
Closed: Christmas & Good Friday

Adults: $5
Children & Students: $2
Children with height under counter top: FREE

Ballina Naval & Maritime Museum
8 Regatta Lane Ballina NSW Australia
+61 2 6686 1002