Loved for its relaxed seaside atmosphere, Ballina is known as the social and commercial hub of the far north coast region of New South Wales. Located on the mouth of the Richmond River, Ballina has a rich naval and maritime history with the modern touches of today’s world. The main coastal town just 200kms south of Brisbane and 750kms north of Sydney, offers something for everyone.
1. Ballina Coastal Country Music Festival
The Ballina Coastal Country Music Festival is a free festival held over the June Long Weekend every year. Country music lovers and their families come from far and wide to enjoy the celebrations featuring over 30 artists in at least six different venues including a Street Stage with headline artists. There’s also the Great Duck Race, buskers who line the streets and food and market stalls across town.
2. Ballina Tourist Drives
Winding through the countryside of Ballina and the Hinterlands is Tourist Drive 28. Along the way you’ll discover artist studios, historic villages, rainforests, B&B’s, roadside produce stalls, cafés, working farms and The Macadamia Castle.
Another popular route is Tourist Drive 30 from the centre of Ballina. Following the river to the coast and admire one of the most scenic beach drives Australia has to offer, continuing to Lennox Head and Byron Bay. You’ll pass Ballina’s local pool and waterslide, Naval and Maritime Museum, Waterfront Heritage Trail, Missingham Skate Park, Richmond River and Lighthouse Beach.
3. The Big Prawn
You can’t go to Ballina and not see the Big Prawn.
Originally unveiled in 1989, the Big Prawn was restored in 2013 at a cost of $400,000, is over 9m tall and weighs over 35 tonnes. While you’re there enjoy some fresh seafood from the stores across the road. If you’re in Ballina in November be sure to go to The Prawn Festival at Missingham Park. Taste delicious sizzling prawns, soak up some great music and join in the fun of the DIY Raft Race.
4. Ballina Twilight Markets
The Richmond River foreshore at Ballina comes alive every Thursday evening during the daylight saving months with the Twilight Markets. From 4 – 8pm there’s live music, fresh food, handmade arts and crafts, local produce and a castle inspired playground for the little ones complete with face painting. It’s a great place to meet the locals and enjoy dinner while watching the sunset.
5. Ballina Bike Paths
Ballina’s waterways are lined with kilometres of mostly flat bike paths offering views of the local river, ocean and creek. You’ll find plenty of cafés to stop at along the way, including an ice cream shop, and if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a few dolphins too. Be sure to pick up a map when you hire your bike so you can plan your ride.
With so much to see and do in Ballina you’ll want to stay somewhere comfortable and relaxing. The Quality Hotel Ballina offers resort style accommodation across the road from Lighthouse Beach. There is also the Comfort Inn All Seasons. which is located right by the bay, offering a stunning view of the ocean.