Celebrating 150 years of Boom Town Ballina

Jeff Waller from 2LM hands Gae Ferris (nee Selwood) her beach ball prize as the winner of the 1964 Miss Summerland Beach Girl Competition.

Saturday night dances, long days at the beach and bronzed lifesavers keeping a watchful eye on the waves that was Ballina in the 1960s.

It was also the time of the hugely popular Summergirl competitions held annually at Lighthouse Beach, where beach girl contestants strutted their stuff in boy leg swimsuits, competing to win the grand prize of a beach ball, sunscreen and a Summergirl sash.

Lismores Gae Ferris was named the winner in 1964 and she fondly remembers it as an exciting event with a huge crowd gathered to watch the girls on show.

Almost every weekend in summer wed make the trip across to Ballina and wed spend the whole day at the beach, said Gae. It was all about the surf and suntans in those days and I used to take my transistor radio with me to the beach, like everybody else.

Gae will be a special guest at the Celebrating 150 years of Boom Town Ballina! gala dinner next Monday, November 6. Presented by the Ballina RSL Club and the Ballina Chamber of Commerce & Industry Inc, the night will be a nostalgic celebration of the 1964 Miss Summergirl competition with dancing summer girls, giant beach balls and roving bronzed lifeguards.

One real-life lifeguard who will also be a special guest on the night is Jack Trevan, one of Lismores best known lifesavers and the recipient of a meritorious award for his rescue services. Jack also happened to be on the beach the day that Gae was crowned Miss Summergirl 1964.

The Summergirl competitions were vital in terms of providing an income for the surf clubhouse. Apart from the competition money, club income was derived from associate members who paid a total of one guinea in those days, said Jack, who still lives in the house he built at Shelley Beach in 1958, and distinctly remembers the first bikini on the beach.

The gala event at the Ballina RSL Club will focus on Ballinas rich heritage and raise funds to support a Ballina heritage initiative to help preserve events, places and lifestyles unique to the community.

For more information and ticket prices see the ad on this page or phone the Ballina RSL Club on 6686 2544.

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