Ballina is a coastal township set in the heart of the lush green rural countryside of sub-tropical Northern New South Wales.
Ballina is located on the Pacific Highway, and was established on the northern shore of the Richmond River near Cape Byron, Australia's most easterly point, in the 1840s.
Ballina boasts some of the most beautiful surfing beaches and picturesque headlands on the east coast of Australia. It is approximately 750 km north of Sydney and 200 km south of Brisbane.
The Richmond River and its estuaries abound with marine wildlife and for many years has remained a favourite of fishermen and water sports enthusiasts alike.
Ballina has a number of famous "landfalls" associated with it. The first, in 1928, was Charles Kingsford Smith. His plane, the "Southern Cross", crossed the coast over Ballina after its epic journey across the Pacific . Ballina had a festival associated with the event during the 1970s and 1980s, and a school in East Ballina bears the name "Southern Cross".
The second landfall associated with Ballina was in 1973 when the Las Balsas rafts were towed into Ballina by fishing trawlers after their journey from Ecuador. They originally had planned to arrive in Mooloolaba in Queensland, but currents had forced them off their destination. Their journey was almost twice as long as the Kon-Tiki expeditions of 1947 and proved that people could have travelled across the Pacific in ancient times.
Some discussion exists as to how Ballina got its name. Some believe it was named after the Irish town of Ballina, but this is unlikely. The more plausible explanation is that the name is derived from an Indigenous Australian word meaning "place of many oysters". The names "Bullinah" and "Boolinah" have been mooted. But perhaps, also, the Aboriginal name reminded the settlers of Ballina in Ireland so the name's origination could have been a combination of both sources. Ballina has a sister city agreement with its Irish namesake.
At its current rate of growth, Ballina's population is expected to reach 55,000 by 2009 and is fast becoming the growth centre of the region.
There are three high schools, four primary schools, a hospital and aged care facilities.
The major airport for the region servicing Byron Bay and Lismore is also in Ballina.
The airport has links to many of the eastern state capitals and regional airports, with Rex, Jetstar, and Virgin Blue each operating services.
Ballina Airport is located in Southern Cross Drive and is 5kms from the Ballina CBD.
The Airport is a 10 min road trip to Lennox Head , 20 mins to Byron Bay and 30 mins to Evans Head.
There is a great range of things to do around Ballina, appealling to all manner of interests. You can partake in anything from the less strenuous activities such as lawn bowls and leisurely beach walks or window shopping to activities that require more exertion and a spirit of adventure such as adventure canoeing, snorkelling along north wall or in Shaw's Bay or fishing from the river banks, in the river on your own or hire boat, or beach and rocky headlands.
Centred on an island at the mouth of the Richmond River, Ballina is surrounded by 32kms of white sandy beaches and crystal clear waterways.
With a range of boutique stores available, from fashion to homewares you are guaranteed to find that special something.
There is also golf close by, whale & dolphin watching, surfing, windsurfing, kitesailing, canoeing and sailing on Richmond River and North Creek and four wheel driving along nearby Seven Mile Beach.
For a fantastic alternate way at experiencing the area, try the once in a liftime helicopter tours or the 4 wheel drive bus through the hinterland.
The broad thoroughfares of Ballina’s town centre are lined with restaurants and cafes where you can sample the famous local seafood.
Sit back and relax in culinary delights of the many aromatic restaurants on offer. Enjoy the live band at the pubs.
The town is brimming with things to see and do. Visit the historic maritime museum, discover treasure troves of antiques and curios, art and craft shops and markets; browse the funky boutiques; or take your pick of fun activities for kids of all ages.
Further afield, take in the spectacular coastline from Ballina’s cycleways; enjoy an historic river cruise along the Richmond; journey into the teeming wetlands of North Creek’s upper reaches by canoe; or thrill to the annual migration of the humpback whales from any of the coastal headlands. The fishing at Flat Rock and Angels Beach is legendary and, if you wet a line at dawn from Ballina’s North or South Walls, you’re in for a breakfast feast.
Ballina Naval & Maritime Museum, just behind the Ballina Visitor Information Centre in River Street, is the home of the Las Balsas raft, which completed the historic trans-Pacific expedition in 1973. Other displays include navy battleships, wheelhouse, 21st Torpedo, WRAN memorial, models, navy mess deck, maritime library, uniforms and much more.
Also behind the Visitor Centre, the Kerry Saxby Walkway marks the start of Ballina’s network of paths and cycleways. Whether you hire a bike or walk, watch for dolphins and pelicans as you follow the riverbank to the break wall.
Historic Fenwick House is a gracious Scottish manor at Shaws Bay. Built in 1884 by Captain Thomas Fenwick, this waterfront landmark is now a private residence and can be viewed only from the outside.
Richmond River Lighthouse, on the northern headland, was built in 1879.
Lighthouse Beach and North Wall are ideal for viewing the many migratory birds that fly, feed and roost in the area.
The Coast Guard Tower, open to visitors from 8am to 4pm, offers magnificent views of the coast and the mouth of the Richmond, while the North Wall is the ideal spot to watch the fishing trawlers make their way to sea at sunset.
Pioneer Memorial Park honours the sea captains and their crews who perished off the Ballina coast and provides a glimpse of the region’s rich maritime history.
Shelly Beach and Flat Rock pools are perfect for toddlers, with the wading pool at Shelly Beach built into the rocks. The cafe right on the beach offers excellent cuisine and incomparable views.
The 8km coast road from Ballina to Lennox Head skirts spectacular beaches and headlands and offers breathtaking views. Could even be listed as the best coastal stretch in NSW. Black Head Lookout, a sacred cultural and heritage site for the Bundjalung people, and Angels Beach boast an array of native flora and superb scenery.
The grassy headland overlooking Boulders Beach is a great spot to watch surfers in action, while Pat Moreton Lookout offers views over Lennox’s world-famous pointbreak, the vast expanse of Seven Mile Beach and on to Cape Byron Lighthouse. It’s a popular spot for whale and dolphin spotters and hang-gliders.
Whale & Dolphin Watching
Whales can be easily seen from nearby Ballina headlands and even fron north wall. Whales pass by in June/July on their annual pilgrimage to warmer waters and then they pass again heading south during September/October.
Dolphins can be spotted 'fishing' along the beach about 15 metres off the shore on most mornings, or cruising adjacent to north wall or the appropriately named dolphin wall on the southern side of the river.
Regional Markets The markets in and around Lennox Head have something for everyone - plenty of local arts and crafts, seasonal plants and produce, and a wide variety of food. Spend the day soaking up the atmosphere and pick up some bargains.
- Lennox Head Markets 2nd & 5th Sunday of the month, Near Lake Ainsworth.
- Byron Bay Community Markets 1st Sunday of the month, Buttler St Reserve.
- Ballina Markets 3rd Sunday of the month, Circus Ground Canal Rd.
- Bangalow Village Markets 4th Sunday of the month, Showground.