Ballina lies south of Byron Bay in the Northern Rivers region. While Byron Bay is the better known town of the two, Ballina is great for visitors looking for a quieter time. Many people will base themselves in Ballina and take day trips to Byron Bay.
Ballina’s wonderful climate, great location at the mouth of the Richmond River, superb beaches (South Ballina Beach is the star) and hinterland, offer lots of options for travellers. There are the water-based attractions, such as swimming, scuba diving, surfing, fishing, boating, whale-watching (between June and November) and dolphin watching (all year) – and the seafood is always fresh and wonderful.
Close to Ballina, the Victoria Park Nature Reserve is one of the remnants of the Big Scrub. The reserve covers 17.5 hectares (43 acres), with eight hectares (20 acres) of untouched rainforest, and clearly marked walking trails.
As in the rest of this part of New South Wales, the climate is sub-tropical. Summer temperatures (December to February) hit about 30 C (86 F) and winter temperatures (June to August) are 20 C (68 F).
This part of New South Wales is a year-round destination, meaning there’s really no bad time to visit Ballina.
January and February are the busiest months. Easter is also a popular time with families. Whale-watching season runs from June to November, making it a popular time to visit as well. Ballina will also be busy when Byron Bay holds its many festivals. Accommodations in Ballina and Lismore often booked-up to handle the overspill from Byron.
Low season rates for accommodations kick in after the Easter holiday and last until the September/October school holidays.
There are plenty of rental-car companies with desks at the local airports. Airport transfers and shuttles also link the airports with Ballina and other towns in the region.
A rental car is essential if you’re planning on getting around this part of New South Wales. Bus and coach services in the Ballina, Lennox Head, Byron Bay and Mullumbimby areas are operated by Blanch’s Bus Company.