When to fly
Ballina has a number of peak times throughout the year when it becomes very busy. January and February are the busiest months, whilst Easter is also very popular with families. The months of November and December also see an influx of people, due to the Rivafest, Christmas celebrations, the Boxing Day Races and Schoolies. Book flights well in advance if you wish to travel during this season.
If you would like to plan your trip around the whale season, with the hope of spotting a whale leaping from the sea, then the best time to visit is from June to November. This is when the humpbacks begin their annual migration from Antarctica to the Great Barrier Reef.
Ballina also becomes busy when neighbouring Byron Bay holds one of its many festivals. Accommodation may be crammed and flight prices increased from the overspill of visitors to Byron. Its major festivals include East Coast Blues & Roots Festival during April, the Byron Bay Writers Festival during August and the Byron Lighthouse Run in September/October.
If you’re looking for lower rates for accommodation and cheap flights, try booking your trip some time between after the Easter holidays and before the September/October school holidays.
Ballina lies south of Byron Bay in the Northern Rivers region. While Byron Bay is the more popular of the two towns - it's a stop on the international backpacker trail for one thing - many visitors looking for a quieter time will take cheap flights to Ballina, base themselves there, and take day trips to Byron.
Ballina's wonderful climate, its location at the mouth of the Richmond River, superb beaches (South Ballina Beach is the star) and hinterland, offer lots of options for holiday makers. There are the water-based attractions - swimming, scuba diving, surfing (at Lennox Head, between Ballina and Byron Bay), fishing (river and beach), boating, whale-watching (between June and November) and dolphin watching (all year) - and the seafood is, naturally, wonderful.
Close to Ballina, the Victoria Park Nature Reserve is one of the remnants of the Big Scrub. The reserve covers 17.5 hectares, with eight hectares of untouched rainforest, and clearly marked walking trails.
The Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum on Regatta Avenue tells the story of this region and contains the original Las Balsas raft and the largest collection of Naval and Merchant Ships in Australia.
If you catch your own lunch you can find barbecue and picnic facilities along the waterfront. There's 25 km of cycleways and paths along which you can work it all off afterwards.
This Ballina should not be confused with the town in Mayo, Ireland, although it is a sister city.