Discover Ballina - A Paddler's Guide to Ballina
Plan your Ballina Coast and Hinterland escapeā€¦

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 Ballina offers a variety of waterways and route options for both beginner and experienced paddlers. Here are some popular spots for paddling in and around Ballina. Image: Global Paddler


Make your paddle as long or as short as you like. The Richmond River winds its way though the Northern Rivers countryside before reaching the ocean in Ballina. If you are up for a big paddle then heading upstream towards Wardell is a good workout. It is reccommended to do this with the incoming tide or if you're travelling up and back then plan to do this with the tide. 

It is also nice to take an easy paddle with the tide from the boat ramp at Fishery Creek Canal towards Missingham Bridge, North Creek and Shaws Bay. There is a pretty high chance of spotting some local dolphins along this section.

The Richmond River is affected by tides so it is important that wherever you are planning to go that you are aware of tide times and how these will affect your paddle.

richmond river dolphin




Lake Ainsworth is a fresh water lagoon that is coloured by tea tree tannins leaching from the Melaleuca trees that surround the lake and is a very popular swimming, paddling and sailing (no motor boats) spot for locals and visitors.

The water is said to have health giving and rejuvenating properties for the skin and hair and the parkland surrounding the lake is complemented by wonderful barbecue and picnic facilities.

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Shaws Bay is a great sheltered area near the mouth of the Richmond River. It provides a calm peaceful setting for paddling, specially for beginners and you will often find people kayaking as well as paddle boarding and swimming in the calm protected waters.

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A paddle along North Creek is a great way to spend a few hours in Ballina. Starting at the Serpentine, you can catch some waves as they roll under Missingham bridge before heading upstream into the mangrove edged creek boasting  plenty of birdlife such as Kingfishers, Pelicans, Cormorants, Darters and Spoonbills. Stop in for some Oysters at Richmond Oysters on your return. 

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Image: Global Paddler




Did you know that Ballina is an island? On this loop you can paddle along the Richmond River, North Creek, North Creek Canal, Fishery Creek Canal and back to the Richmond River or do it in reverse. This paddle takes you through a range of environments with oppotunities for spotting wildlife such as dolphins, pelicans and many different species of coastal water birds. Just be sure to keep the tides in mind and plan your paddle accordingly.

Ballina Island

image: Escapology by Scott Rawstorne and Geoff Greenwood.



Rather paddle as a group? why not join the Rainbow Region Dragon Boat Club. They train four days per week and encourage paddlers of all abilities to participate.The club motto is Fitness, Fun and Friendship and even though they paddle hard they also have an emphasis on physical, mental, and social wellbeing.

dragon boat club

Photo credit: Rainbow Region Dragon Boat Club


If you are an experienced sea kayaker then the Ballina coast provides some spectacular views as you paddle around rocky headlands and long sandy beaches. Consider your skills when planning to paddle on the ocean and ensure that your chosen time has favourable tides, swell and wind conditions.

If you'd rather leave the planning to the professionals then there are two sea kayaking tour companies just up the road from Ballina in Byron Bay who can guide you through the waves to explore the Cape Byron Marine Park. Check them out here: Cape Byron Kayaks and Go Sea Kayak Byron Bay


Image: Go Sea Kayak Byron Bay

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