Home Community The Missingham Bridge Ballina.

The Missingham Bridge Ballina.

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Photo: The Original Bridge

During the early ‘60s the bridge was the surfing kindergarden for local Lismore and Ballina surfers.

My wife Yvonne learned to surf there along with a number of local surfers including Kenny Buck, “Shorty” Conners, Murray Suffolk, Barry Gilligan, Bob McDonough and many others. We used to venture down there quite often particularly when it was onshore in the Bay. The wave worked best when the swell was more from the East allowing the lines to push up the river between the North and South walls. The tides formed a triangular sand bank on the Eastern side of the bridge, forming a really nice but usually small about 1 to 2 foot wave.

The best I ever had it was with Bob McTavish and myself one day when there was a cyclone off the coast and it was around 4 to 5 feet. The wave would go in and then hit the small beach and backwash back out, I remember vividly one wave where I was riding in and Bob caught about a 3 foot backwash back out, with both waves meeting with the obvious result. Adjacent to the bridge is the East Ballina Kiosk, along the river side of the kiosk is an oyster lease which formed a really nice shaped left hander at times, very shallow! very sharp!

Photo: John Holmes 1965

Photo: The New Bridge

The old timber bridge was replaced by the new concrete bridge with associated break walls which changed the sand flow so that it now a lot deeper and not as good. I did see a nice little wave about two weeks ago a little further around from the bridge, which gives hope to a lot more kids learning to surf in what is a reasonably safe spot. We didn’t know about Bull Sharks back then or what it was to be harassed by Jet Ski’s…

Words & Photos by our good mate & Kirra’s dad Max Pendergast

The most common question asked of Max is “Have you lived in Byron Bay all your life?” His laconic reply “Not yet!” Born in the Bay in 1943, Max has been in or on the ocean from the age of eight, swimming, surfing. diving, sailing and fishing. You could call him a true waterman. These interests have enabled him to travel extensively throughout the Pacific and particularly to his beloved Hawaii, where 30 years ago his great friends Rell Sunn and Keoki Puaoi introduced him to the true Hawaiian way of life. Max and his wife Yvonne were the foundation members of the Byron Bay Malibu Club of which they are both life members. Although they both no longer surf competitively, for the past 22 years they have organised and conducted a surf contest in conjunction with the Byron Bay Malibu Classic called “The Future Legends” for kids under 12 years old. Each year Max writes and illustrates a colouring-in book for the contest, mainly aimed at water safety, surf etiquette and the ocean environment, to gently try to educate the kids about the ocean. Still surfing “when it pleases me“ Max admits he is a little slower getting to his feet these days but he is trialing a new board which is a radical version of the Hawaiian Paipo so he can “Lay down surf!” and be more relaxed about it. Likes: Hawaiian music (He has an extensive collection), surfing the Cape, or “Little Beach” as it was always known. Early morning walks on the beach, being with family. The description of “Island time”, “Maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe not at all!” Dislikes: Crowds, People who take the ocean for granted, inexperienced people that put peoples lives at stake....There is a saying on one of the islands “A fool and the sea is soon drowned!" We are not fools and we are only drowned sometimes...

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