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