Big Volcano® Visitor Guide

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Ballina, NSW, 2478

Place of Many Oysters

by Jo-Ann Palmer.

Ballina estuary

Located at the mouth of the Richmond River, Ballina relies on fishing, ship building, agriculture and tourism for its prosperity, with resort shopping infrastructure expanding to accommodate the increasing numbers of families visiting and moving to the area.

Photo © by J Palmer, Big Volcano

Ballina's name is originally from an aboriginal word meaning "place of many oysters", so it isn't any surprise that oyster leases and commercial fisheries within the estuary of the Richmond River are highly productive.

Sport fishing in the area is also excellent and the region's magnificent beaches are renowned for great surfing.  Numerous sporting amenities and indoor attractions include the amazing and interesting Ballina Navel & Maritime Museum, while nearby, Thursday Plantation and Macadamia Castle at Knockrow, make for enjoyable outings.

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Local Tours & Attractions

Ballina lighthouse
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Exterior Ballina Navel and Maritime Museum
Ballina Naval & Maritime Museum

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A wide variety of accomodation including apartments, resorts, caravan parks, motels, motor inns, B&Bs, and extensive walking and bicycling paths around the town, make it a great family holiday destination.


Richmond River and beaches

With the Richmond River and extensive estuary, Ballina is a magnet fior families, anglers, birdwatchers and nature lovers.

Richmond River Cruises, offers a 2-Hour cruise with Devonshire Tea/Coffee which includes an informative and entertaining historical commentary on board the M.V.Bennelong (a former Sydney fire tug).

South Ballina Beach is popular for beach fishing and surfers, while Mobbs Bay is a family friendly inlet, and a great location with picnic, swimming and fishing spots.  It's also a good spot for birdos to spot waders at low tide.

North Creek is a great spot for swimming, fishing and waterside picnics, while at Shelly Beach, the rock pools feature a wading pool which has been built into the rocks.  The beach is also patrolled.

Flat Rock Beach and Rockpools.  At Flat Rock Beach in East Ballina, the volcanic platform forms an intricate maze of rockpools when it's exposed at low tide, attracting a huge number of seabirds and migratory waders, especially in February and March.

A viewing deck with interpretive signage overlooks the beach and rocky array, and the beach is a popular surfing, swimming and fishing location.  Facilities include a car park and public toilets.

Ballina Lighthouse.  Overlooking the entrance to the river and the main surfing beach, what must be Australia's shortest lighthouse stands in a strategic position on Lighthouse Hill.

Bicentennial Gardens.  Just north of town on the Pacific Highway, the Bicentennial Gardens is a popular rest stop and picnic area, with a car park, public toilets and picnic tables beside a small lagoon.  A number of walking tracks meader through a paperbark forest, and a variety of rainforest and mangrove birds species can been seen.

15 minutes drive north at Lennox Head, Lake Ainsworth is a popular freshwater recreation area, and the coastal heathlands of Broadwater National Park to the south are about 25 minutes drive by car.

Family Attractions

At Knockrow, the family orientated Macadamia Castle offers a shop, petting zoo, playground and mini golf, while Thursday Plantation just north of Ballina, is a Ti Tree Plantation with restaurant, shop and art installations.

The Ballina Naval & Maritime Museum is a great place to visit, housing the famous Las Balsas cross Pacific raft, items like ballast from H.M.S bark Endeavour, decking from the Krait, (1943 Singapore Harbour operation Jaywick), and a myriad other maritime exhibits.

Getting to Ballina


Getting to the region is easy: Ballina is approximately 753 kilometres - about 10 hours drive north from Sydney and approximately 197 kilometres - about 120 minutes drive south of Brisbane, via the Pacific Highway.


Ballina/Byron Gateway Airport is the southern gateway to Northern New South Wales, with domestic flights from all major Australian cities. A number of international carriers servicing SE Asia, New Zealand and the Pacific fly into Gold Coast Airport at Coolangatta, 60 minutes drive to the north.

Daily airport shuttle services operate between Ballina, Gold Coast Airport and Brisbane International Airport for domestic and international flights. Visit Gold Coast Airport Transfer Services for more information.

Intrastate flights are also available to Lismore Airport, with all airports having airport car hire or other car rental services available nearby.

Ballina bike path


Daily interstate coach services are available from Ballina to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, with a daily or overnight train service from Sydney to Brisbane via coach transfer at Casino.

Getting Around

Blanches Bus Service provides daily timetable services between Bangalow, Ballina and Byron Bay.
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