When it comes to Northern New South Wales, most international travelers hit up one place and one place only – that place is Byron Bay. And while Byron Bay is a great place and all, it does have it’s down sides. For one, its full on. It’s full on in a lot of ways. There are a lot of crazy and unique people doing crazy and unique things all of the time. Which can be great. But sometimes you just want to chill out and relax somewhere away from all the crazy. And if you are holidaying with kids you might want to be somewhere where there is a little less public drug use.
Byron Bay is also busy, which can be fun if you want to get in amongst it and enjoy some night life. But sometimes you just want to spend a romantic getaway with your lover where you can enjoy a stroll along the beach without having to sidestep around hundreds of other people.
Lastly, Byron Bay is expensive. Really expensive.
Which is why we love Ballina. Ballina is close enough to Byron Bay that you can enjoy all the weirdness that makes this town special, but you can still escape to a quiet oasis. Ballina’s got world class surfing and fishing, its a safe place for families to let their kids roam, and couples can enjoy quiet beaches and spectacular sunsets.
Where is Ballina?
Ballina is a small town in Northern New South Wales, only two hours from Brisbane. It is located close enough to Byron Bay to enjoy the buzz and alternative culture of this famous surfing town, but far enough away to provide a quiet and serene oasis from it’s noisy neighbour.
What is there to do in Ballina?
Ballina is a great destination for surfers…
Ballina is an excellent place for surfing, and the long stretches of beach makes it an ideal spot where surfers of all experience levels can enjoy themselves. In fact, the beach at Lennox Heads is famous for its right hand break. Byron Bay might be synonymous with surfing, but Ballina is the place to be if you want to enjoy yourself away from the crowds.
Ballina is a great destination for fishing…
From where we stayed at the Ballina Lakeside Holiday Park, we only had to step from the deck of our cabin to be at a great fishing spot. The lake across from our cabin boasts fantastic fishing. Shark nets prevent sharks and other large fish from getting into the lake, allowing the small fish inside to grow up large and content in relative safety. Every few minutes we would hear a splash as some giant fish played in the water.
For those more interested in surf fishing, the beach is only a short walk away as well.
But if you are like Dan, and have a habit of never catching anything (ever), then you might be interested in the Ballina Fishing Park. This salt water fishing park is full of prize size bream, jewfish and other local varieties that you can catch and release, or cook up in their cooking facilities. The $20 entry fee includes all your fishing equipment which means you don’t even have to try to cram a fishing rod into your car.
Ballina is a great destination for a romantic getaway…
Imagine a place with small town charm but with gourmet and inspired restaurants and cafes. Imagine a place with secluded and empty beaches just walking distance from town. Imagine a place where the sun rises from the ocean, and set into a lake.
Ballina is great for families…
We recently spent a relaxing family weekend in Ballina at the Ballina Lakeside Holiday Park and it has easily become our favourite place for family holidays. The quiet beach was perfect for little ones to run around in (and eat sand – his favourite thing to do), and the calm – shark free – lake is perfect for kids who want to go for a swim.
But the main attraction was the holiday park itself.
We love camping, which means we have been to a fair few of holiday parks in Australia. But we have never, ever seen one with the facilities on offer like Ballina Lakeside. The central activity area features a pool, a kids water park complete with small water slides and fun water spouts and features, a mini golf course, a play ground and a bouncing pillow. Best of all, every one of these areas are within watching distance from the large central kitchen and dining area. Because family travel isn’t all about the kids – with the set up at Ballina Lakeside Mom and Dad can relax poolside with a cocktail or a glass of wine, while still keeping an eye on the kids as they run from activity to activity.
Everyone loves camping when the sun is shining, but in life, that’s not always the case. Instead of huddling inside your tent during the rain, the Ballina Lakeside Holiday park offers some pretty unique features to make even the worst weather bearable. The indoor 24 hour TV room is a great respite from the weather, and the arcade room and indoor toddler play area is a godsend for parents with bored kiddos. Also an indoor cinema which plays a variety of rated G movies will help pass the time as the weather clears overhead.
Where we stayed: Ballina Lakeside Holiday Park
We we loved it: Lake side relaxation for Mom and Dad, while kids keep busy with a variety of activities
Location: The holiday park is located at Fenwick Drive, Ballina, NSW 2478, 2 hours from Brisbane and 30 minutes from Byron Bay
Accommodation options: We love this holiday park because it provides so many accommodation options you will have no issue finding the perfect fit for your budget and needs. From camping and caravan spots, to a huge range of cabin options. We stayed in the Waterfront Bungalow which featured two bedrooms, large bathroom with heat lamps, kitchen and dining facilities, a lounge, and a large deck with a BBQ. And best of all, it was just a few metres from the lakeside.
Facilities: 24 TV room, cinema, conference room, pool, kids waterpark, minigolf, toddlers nook and more. See website for full details.
Our rating: This was by far the best Holiday Park we have stayed at so far in both comfort, facilities, and distractions for the kids. We give it 5/5.