History marks voyage to new sister-city partnership

BALLINA Shire Council has unanimously supported a proposal to initiate a sister city relationship with the city of Guayaquil in Ecuador.

Councillor Jeff Johnson, the driving force behind the proposal, said Guayaquil was the departure point for the historic Las Balsas expedition - the world's longest recorded raft voyage - in which three rafts sailed more than 14,000km from Guayaquil before arriving in Ballina.

One of the rafts is proudly on display at Ballina's Naval and Maritime Museum and the expedition was the inspiration for this year's inaugural Prawn Festival.

"This year marks the 40th anniversary of the arrival of the Las Balsas rafts," Cr Johnson said.

"We were recently honoured to have three of the original crew attend a reunion dinner in Ballina to commemorate the 40th anniversary of their arrival."

Ecuador's ambassador to Australia Raul Gangotena has also written to the council in support of the proposal and offered his assistance to help promote the Las Balsas voyage both in Australia and Ecuador, Cr Johnson said.

"It was a pleasure to meet the ambassador and spend some time with him during his visit to Ballina."