A spot for families and those who love spending time in the surf, sun, and sea.
The gateway to the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, Ballina tends to get overlooked in the rush to get to the more popular holiday hot spots of Byron Bay and beyond. Those who do take time to explore this spot on the mouth of the Richmond River find 32 kilometres of beaches and a maze of waterways flanked by World Heritage-listed rainforest. Area caravan parks are popular with anglers, paddlers, and boaties, as well as families thanks to resort-style facilities and adventure playgrounds. Many of Ballina’s best attractions are free—the South Ballina breakwall nearly guarantees dolphin sightings, while the coastal lookouts and headlands are fantastic spots to see whales.
Ballina is just a half hour drive south of Byron Bay, one of the most popular holiday spots in northern NSW. Browse the boutiques and galleries, dine out in one of the many cafes or restaurants, and head up to the Cape Byron lighthouse for spectacular views. The lovely seaside village of Brunswick Heads, which has some good-value riverside caravan parks, is just a short drive further north of Byron Bay.
The stretch of coastline that runs south of Ballina to Evans Head and beyond to the Clarence River on the north side of Yamba is one of the least developed in New South Wales. Most of it is protected within Bundjalung National Park, which has some superb beachside camping sites.
Home to some of the best surfing in the NSW (Angourie Point was the first official surfing reserve in the state) and famous for its prawns and seafood, this holiday town at the mouth of the Clarence River makes for an ideal camping getaway. Take a dip in the ocean swimming pools, kayak the river, or explore the World Heritage-listed rainforest in Iluka.
Perfectly positioned between the rainforest and the sea, this prosperous riverside city 35 kilometres west of Ballina is full of historic architecture and has a lively arts scene.
Like the rest of the NSW North Coast and Northern Rivers region, Ballina gets very busy during summer and Easter school holidays. The best time to go is late spring or early autumn when you’ll find the beaches practically deserted, along with warm weather. June through to November is the best time to see whales.
- The Ballina Byron Gateway Airport is just 5 kilometres from the centre of Ballina, and is well serviced by domestic flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Newcastle, and Canberra. - The Ballina Visitor Information Centre is at 6 River St, and has easy parking for large motorhomes and caravans. - There is no free camping in the Ballina Shire. - Don’t leave Ballina without snapping a selfie at the Big Prawn—it’s nine metres high and weighs 35 tonnes. You’ll find it in the carpark of Bunnings hardware store on River Street.