Ballina has a lot to offer, whether you’re a visiting couple, family, or individual traveller. Besides the top ten unique spots listed below, Ballina has many fine restaurants, four spas, and a 9-hole golf course.
1. The Ballina Naval & Maritime Museum
Located on Regatta Avenue, right on the banks of the Richmond River, the Naval & Maritime Museum is home to extensive, engaging displays. A few of the museum’s exhibits: the original Las Balsas Raft; a working steam engine; the largest collection of Naval and Merchant Ships in Australia; and many interactive maritime displays.
The museum’s collection of ships shows the evolution of water transport—from raft to dugout canoe from the Solomon Islands to an impressive collection of sailing vessels and Steam and diesel engines. But it’s not a huge, overwhelming museum—you can see all of its features in one Saturday.
The museum offers free parking and guided tours for larger groups (book in advance). It’s open 7 days a week, 9am – 4pm. The phone number for the Naval & Maritime Museum is (02) 6681 1002 or click here to visit their website.
2. Lighthouse Beach
Lighthouse Beach is the main beach in Ballina and it’s gorgeous. There’s adequate parking (with no fees), life guards on duty for most of the day, a café, and clean toilets. We recommend only surfing or swimming when the life guards are patrolling, as there are strong rips and currents.
The surf here, depending on the season and time of day, can be excellent. The water is warm for most of the year, and the current from the south doesn’t reach this coast. Look out for dolphins riding the swell and fishing. The lighthouse is definitely worth a look, and this beach has a good long stretch for walking at sunset. Click here to check marine warnings and times the beach is patrolled.
3. Killen Falls
This is a lesser-known attraction in Ballina but well worth the trip. Killen Falls are located in Tintenbar, Ballina, New South Wales 2478. The path down to the falls can be slick, especially after a rain, so wear trainers or hiking boots. When you get to the car park, you can walk the rocky path to the dam or the falls (see both if you have time). The falls have a viewing deck and the path continues down stream to a swimming hole, where you can cool off (and go in the early morning to have the falls to yourself.)
Call +61 2 6623 3800 or click here for more information on this natural attraction. 11 am is a good time for photographing the falls, as the sun is high and the water sparkles.
4. Ballina Historic Waterfront Trail
The Ballina Historic Waterfront Trail is a scenic walking path along the Richmond River. You can park at Shaw’s Bay and pick up the riverside pathway there. The distance from the car park to the end of the path is a little over 1.5 kms long, but it’s an easy flat walk with beautiful scenery. Take your time strolling the waterfront and read the 19 historical plaques (featuring photographs from the Ballina region). The waterfront trail ends at Lighthouse Beach, where you might see a whale or a dolphin lounging at the mouth of the river.
Located along Kingsford Smith Drive, Ballina, New South Wales 2478, Australia, the Ballina Historic Waterfront Trail is a great way to sneak in some exercise on your holiday. Click here for more details and a map of the location.
5. Pat Morton Lookout
Pat Morton Lookout sits on the Coast Road, Lennox Head, and it’s a wonderful location attraction. From the car park, there’s a path and stairs up to the lookout—from up there you can see the rocky headland and water vista. There are benches to sit on and grassland to lie in—watch the surfers and wind gliders on fair days. Walk further along the path to view the Bay of Angels, a stunning vista of dark blue to emerald ocean waters.
The walk up to the lookout is not too steep—small children and elderly folks should be okay—but it’s not wheelchair accessible. The stairway is mostly covered by shady trees. Phone +61 1800 777 666 or click here for more information.
6. Northern Rivers Community Gallery
If you like to check out the local art scene when you travel, try the Northern Rivers Community Gallery, at 44 Cherry St in Ballina (+61 2 6681 6167). This little gallery has rotating exhibitions from area artists—photography, ceramics, installations, paintings, prints—some for display and some for sale.
The Northern Rivers Community Gallery is a heritage listed site with a unique ceiling and an old council security safe. This gallery is a fine place to shop for jewellery or art for your home, and there’s a good café next door. Click here to visit their website and check what’s on.
7. Kayaking & Canoeing in Ballina
One of the many benefits of Ballina’s subtropical climate is year-round kayaking and canoeing (not to mention swimming). Besides the scenic Richmond River, Ballina has the North Creek, Chickiba Creek, Fishery Creek, North Creek Canal, Emigrant Creek and Maguires Creek—all navigable in a paddling boat. In these waters are shipwrecks, Aboriginal shell middens, historical spots, mangroves, and lots of wildlife: dolphins, turtles, white-bellied sea-eagles, pelicans, ospreys, kingfishers, water dragons, and migratory birds in summer.
Ballina Kayaks is a main kayaking rental and guide operation, and it’s earned many good reviews. Or you can bring your own kayak and a guidebook, if you’re an advanced paddler. The wind can pick up quickly in this area, so be prepared to do some harder paddling on windy days.
8. Rosealynd House
Located in Kyogle, New South Wales, the Rosealynd House makes a fun daytrip from Ballina. This historic property is a Federation Home from 1900 (but now houses a robotic dairy farm). You can dine on local produce in the house’s old Country Hall. Rosealynd House is home to designer home-wares and works of art from local artists.
The Rosealynd House tour features a buffet and high tea. There’s a coach from Ballina to the Rosealynd House, or you can drive and park there. Click here to visit their website.
9. Richmond River Lighthouse
This is an old lighthouse (that was once cared for and lived in by a lighthouse keeper), accessible from Harbourview St in Ballina. Nowadays the Richmond River Lighthouse is fully mechanised—but it’s a great spot to check out nonetheless. It’s a well maintained, small lighthouse with a fine view of the coastline. You can park at the lighthouse and walk 100 yards to the entryway of a nearby lookout. Click here to read more about the history of this lighthouse.
10. The Big Prawn
Lastly, Ballina has a totally unique tourist attraction: the Big Prawn. This roadside attraction is at 507 River St in Ballina, and it is huge. In times past you could climb up into the big prawn and look out through its eyes, but now the statue is for gaping at and taking selfies with only. Be careful when taking photos, because the prawn sits inside a car park. Click here to read more and view a map of the location.
Do you want to experience a luxury coastal holiday?
Ocean Blue holiday rental is only a 5-minute walk from the beach and has gorgeous river and coastal views. Located only a short drive from Ballina Airport and 30 minutes from Byron Bay, this is the perfect location for your next beach holiday. Visit our contact page to make an inquiry or booking.