REPAIRS UNDERWAY: Ballina Shire Council currently is fixing the monument at Captain George Easton's grave at the East Ballina cemetery.
REPAIRS UNDERWAY: Ballina Shire Council currently is fixing the monument at Captain George Easton's grave at the East Ballina cemetery. Graham Broadhead

Repairs to Ballina's first pilot's gravestone

WORK is now underway on repairing the East Ballina grave of Ballina's first pilot, Captain George Easton - and Sydney man Paul Hackett is overjoyed.

Our sister paper, the Ballina Shire Advocate published the story on Mr Hackett's campaign to have the grave's monument repaired.

The monument has been on a lean for some years.

Last week, the monument was taken down and Ballina Shire Council, which is responsible for maintaining the cemetery but not individual grave sites, erected a sign saying the restoration work was underway.

"I'm absolutely delighted," said Mr Hackett, who grew up in Ballina and was keen to see that this piece of history was preserved.

"It's great for the people of Ballina.

"A lot of people don't go to the cemetery and read the inscriptions."

Capt Easton was Ballina's first pilot and helped save lives by safely navigating ships into the Richmond River.

Born in England to a head man at the London docks and a school teacher, Captain Easton came to Australia when very young to continue his career as a mariner.

While in his thirties he was called from the deck of his command to take up duties as first pilot on the Richmond in 1853.

For 33 years he guided ships safely across the Ballina bar without the use of tugs.

His equipment was a four-oar boat with him steering and shouting directions to the skipper of the incoming vessel.

Council's group manager, civil services, John Truman, said the council was undertaking the work "in response to community interest".


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