When I first moved to Ballina as an 18 year old bank johnny at CBC Bank, I and another guy from the CBA Bank boarded at a weird lady’s house. We had to share a room which was directly off the living room of the house. Only problem was she had taken the doors completely off and had these heavy clinky glass drapes in their place. Of course you could see straight into our bedroom so there was no privacy whatsoever. We had to get changed all the time in the bathroom to stay out of view of the weird lady and her even weirder son and daughter.
As soon as we could we moved into a flat with a couple of other guys right on Shelly Beach. Over the period I was there we also lived in the flat next door which had a master bedroom and another small room with 2 single bunk beds in it with just a curtain instead of a door. Three of us shared this tiny room and whenever we had a relief staff member working at one of the banks we would get them to stay in the spare bed. It was cheap for them and we would use the extra cash to spend at the Shores Bay Hotel which sort of became a second home to us all.
We used to have some awesome parties at the Shelly Beach flat and there were always extra people about. Often on a hot summers night after the party waned two or three carloads of people would head out to Lennox Head to Lake Ainsworth where we would go skinny dipping.
42 years later the town of Lennox Head is much more populated and quite a trendy place with its many cafes and restaurants, without the hype of nearby Byron Bay. The infrastructure around Lake Ainsworth has changed a lot too. Where we could once just drive right up to the lakes edge, now there are bollards preventing cars from getting too close. There are bbq’s and picnic tables and a nice wide concrete path along where the dirt road once was. And there are a lot more people about. Watching the sunset, going for walks, just chilling out.
So to relive those great innocent times was a little tricky to do so without attracting unwanted attention. Despite people around I was able to get in the water without too much notice. “Nothing to see here folks!”