John Ski, of Lismore, slipped on the new cement blocks at Ballina's North Wall while fishing and says something should be done to make it safer. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
John Ski, of Lismore, slipped on the new cement blocks at Ballina's North Wall while fishing and says something should be done to make it safer. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star Marc Stapelberg

Ballina North Wall blocks 'deadly' says fisherman

AN EXPERIENCED fisherman who broke his leg after a fall on Ballina's North Wall last month says controversial concrete blocks installed in 2013 are deadly.

On February 25, Lismore's John Ski was chasing jewfish at the end of the breakwall about 7.15am when it started to rain.

"I got off the rocks and waited till the rain stopped then stepped back out on to the blocks," he said.

"I stepped from one block to the other and slipped straight down between them and broke my fibula and tibia.

"When I looked at my leg it was all out of place so I twisted it back around and when I went to stand up I realised it was broken."

The 70-year-old angler was well equipped, but even his steel-spiked fishing boots couldn't stop him slipping.

"I've been fishing that area for over 35 years and never had a problem," he said.

"Before the work was done I used to go fishing till 8pm at night and never had a fall."

The 285 concrete blocks, called hanbars, were installed in 2013 by the Crown Lands Division of the Department of Trade and Investment at a cost of $1.5m.

"It's a hazard and personally I think they should review the whole project," Mr Ski said.

Fisherman breaks his leg on North Wall: John Ski broke his leg in two places when fishing on North Wall Ballina.
Fisherman breaks his leg on North Wall: John Ski broke his leg in two places when fishing on North Wall Ballina.

He said the blocks had a smooth, not rough finish that provided very little grip.

"They are just like glass as soon as they get wet; you just slip straight off," he said.

"If you get a little bit of moss or sea spray on them they're deadly.

"If a child fell down between the blocks and broke their leg you wouldn't be able to see them."

Mr Ski's experience isn't the only incident on North Wall since the concrete blocks were installed.

On January 7, a 45-year-old man was airlifted to a Brisbane hospital with suspected spinal injuries after falling 5m from the wall.

"A month before my incident we were told a person slipped and broke their ankle," Mr Ski said.

A Department of Primary Industries spokesman said the wall's primary function was to improve navigation and maritime safety.

"Whilst the breakwater is popular with recreational walkers and fishermen there is ample warning signage of the risks of venturing on to (it)," he said.

"People should exercise caution when utilising the breakwater and take note of the safety signage erected at various points."