Ballina Australia is a lovely town situated on the Richmond River. It is approximately 200km from Brisbane and 750km from Sydney just off the Pacific Highway. The central area of Ballina is an island at the mouth of the Richmond River but South Ballina and East Ballina sit on the coast. This means it has a huge diversity of river, lakeside and sea beaches but it is a lot less touristy than some of the other resorts in the area. If you are looking to party then Ballina is probably not the place for you and you should head to Byron Bay instead.
The main shops, cafes and accommodation are all to be found along River Street and the visitor centre is just off it at the eastern end of town.
The main reasons to come to Ballina NSW are for the beaches, surfing and fishing. The Lighthouse Beach is a good place for swimming as is Shelley Beach. From the car park above Lighthouse Beach you get great views along the coast. The beach on the Richmond River opposite the Ballina Central Caravan Park is lovely and the water is very calm there as is the beach at Shaws Bay where there is a large lagoon. If you are looking for something more off the beaten track you can take the Burns Point Ferry across the river to South Ballina and Patch’s beaches. For snorkelling try North Creek, Shaws Bay or Flat Rock.
You should ask in the visitors centre which are the best places to surf depending on what you are looking for. If you would like to learn to surf there are two options in Ballina. There is the Summerland Surf School and the Kool Katz Learn to Surf School.
Some of the best options for fishing are Flat Rock and Angels Beach which are legendary for fishing or the North and South Walls. If you prefer to go on an organised fishing tour with equipment and permits provided you should try Paul’s Fishing which are 5 hour tours for a maximum of 4 adults. To find out more about these tours phone 0407 416575.
If you fancy a cruise on the river then go to Richmond River Cruises which are based just next to the visitors centre and run 2 hour cruises on the river on Wednesdays and Sundays. Devonshire Tea and coffee are included in the price.
The Ballina Olympic Pool and Waterslide is located just next to the visitors centre and has three pools to suit different ages, some nice grassy areas to relax and sunbathe and a couple of water slides.
There is also a Naval and Maritime Museum next to the visitors centre which features one of the balsa rafts which set sail from Ecuador on 27th May 1973 and arrived in Ballina on 21st November 1973 on an expedition to prove that the Pacific could have been crossed from South America in ancient times.
If you are looking for something to do in Ballina on a rainy day there is a cinema and a ten pin bowling alley.
Ballina Restaurants and Pubs
There is not a huge range of restaurants and pubs in Ballina Australia but there are a few options. The Slipway Hotel has a bistro which serves lunch and dinner. It is a very popular place and is usually quite busy as it is a great place to sit and watch the world go by. The RSL Club has a lovely dining room overlooking the river and the bistro there serves a huge range of dishes both at lunchtime and for dinner. The Ballina Hotel also has a bistro which serves lunch and dinner. For a fancier dining experience try the Sundowner Motel Restaurant which has a garden terrace right on the river and an indoor dining room and has a more limited but upmarket menu.
There are a few cafes and takeaway places along River Street offering breakfast and lunch. Try Brewsters Cafe which does a lovely toasted Muesli if you are looking for a healthy option. Another lovely cafe is Shelly’s on the Beach which is on Shelley Beach and is open for breakfast and lunch.
The pubs in Ballina Australia can be found along River Street. The Slipway Hotel is a nice spot for an early evening drink and to people watch while the Australian Hotel or the Ballina Hotel are possibly better for a later drink. After 8pm the dress code in the Ballina Hotel is quite strict with no beach attire, leisure wear or thongs (flip flops) allowed. If you are looking for a late night you must be in the pub by 11pm as entry is not allowed after this hour.
Ballina Australia Excursions
A nice little day trip from Ballina is to go along the scenic coast road to Lennox Head and Byron Bay. Just before you get to Lennox Head there is a turn off to the Pat Morton lookout where you can watch lots of people surfing and you may be lucky enough to see whales or dolphins from there. Lennox Head is a nice laid back little town with the fabulous Seven Mile Beach and quite a few cafes and restaurants to choose from. The takeaway does great fish and chips and you can eat them at the picnic area just behind the beach. They also do deep fried Mars Bars if you fancy that. It is 12km from Ballina to Lennox Heads and is an enjoyable cycle with the road being next to the sea most of the way. Just outside Lennox Head is Lake Ainsworth which is a popular place for sailing, and canoeing and swimming. It is a red colour due to the tea trees around its banks.
It is then another 18km on to Byron Bay which is less enjoyable to cycle as the road is quite busy. Byron Bay is bigger than both Ballina and Lennox Head but is still a very laid back place.
The annual migration of the Humpback Whales can be seen from many of the headlands in May/June and October/November. The best places to see this from are Cape Byron Lighthouse and Pat Moreton Lookout in Lennox Heads. Baysail run full and half day tours from July to November.
Bangalow is a quaint little town just off the Pacific Highway but you can also get to it from the coast road to Byron Bay and can be done as part of the same trip as above if you are driving. It is probably too much to cycle in one day unless you are really in to cycling. The main street, which has quite a few traditional Australian buildings on it, runs up to the pretty St Kevin’s Church which has a nice park opposite it. There are a couple of streets leading off the main one which are worth a little stroll along to see some more traditional buildings. Back on the main street Choux Choux Cafe has the most amazing selection of cakes and pies which are just impossible to resist.
You can hire a boat and go out fishing for the day. Ballina boat hire is based near the Sundowner Motel on the river.
Check out our Ballina accommodation page for help with finding somewhere to stay during your time in Ballina Australia.
Visit the official Ballina Australia website for more information.