The beautiful coast drive between Ballina and Byron Bay boasts kilometres of sweeping beaches, world class surfing, headlands & local delights, including fresh seafood.
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Allow at least four hours to experience the attractions between Byron Bay and Ballina (31km), however a full day is recommended. Attractions with a # symbol are Visitor Centre recommendations, other attractions can be found following the white on brown tourist drive signage. These attractions are open a minimum five days per week including Saturdays and Sundays.
Visit #The Farm, on your way to the town centre of Byron Bay (6kms) and see firsthand a working farm in operation.
Take in the stunning views and scenic headland walk from Australia's most easterly point at the Byron Bay Lighthouse. Book a tour with National Parks and Wildlife Service to visit the Lighthouse offering a bird's eye view of the Cape Byron Marine Park and hinterland from the top balcony. While in the town centre of Byron visit the family-friendly beaches at #Main Beach, #Clarkes and #Wategos.
Heading south on the Bangalow/Broken Head Road approx. 7kms from Byron town centre you will find #Suffolk Park. This small seaside community is dotted along the pristine and uncrowded Tallow Beach. Suffolk has its own bakery café, family friendly pub and a laid back Indian diner that is very popular with the locals. Suffolk Park to Broken Head is a 5.2km journey, heading south along the Broken Head Road then Broken Head Nature Reserve Road.
Stop in at #Broken Head Nature Reserve where the lush rainforest meets sandy beaches. Wander through the rainforest along the Three Sisters walking track, a stunning cliff top walk to a lookout. The rocky outcrops, known as the Three Sisters, are part of a Bundjalung dreamtime story that you can read about on the trail. Just past the Three Sisters a stepped path leads to a palm-covered rocky cove. You can continue your walk along to Kings Beach at low tide and return through stunning paperbark forest to Seven Mile Beach Road and then complete the loop back to the Broken Head car park.
From Broken Head continue 11kms south to the small cosmopolitan village of Lennox Head, a mecca among surfers, popular holiday spot for families and foodies paradise. Enter Lennox via Byron Street and follow the road through to the final intersection, this will bring you directly to the beach. Turn left onto Pacific Parade (heading north) to discover the tea-tree stained waters of Lake Ainsworth. Plunge into the calm therapeutic waters; a great swimming spot for all ages, perfect for kayaking or stand up paddle boarding. The Lake is complimented with barbecue and picnic facilities.
From the Lake, follow Pacific Parade for 1km to the heart of Lennox where you will find boutiques, galleries, a children's playground, funky cafes and restaurants all directly across from Seven Mile Beach, offering views of Pat Morton Headland.
PAT MORTON LOOKOUT
Enjoy the elevated panoramic views over Lennox Head township and beyond to Cape Byron from Pat Morton Lookout. This is a perfect place to watch pro surfers, hang gliders, migrating whales (in season) and to soak up the sunshine. Take the stairs from the car park area, up the hillside to enjoy part of the coastal track through literal rainforest heading south along cliff tops to Boulder Beach and into Ballina. The pathway near the carpark, that heads back down the crest, along Seven Mile Beach and into the township of Lennox 1.5kms away is a beautiful scenic walk.
Continue the tourist drive by venturing south on the Coast Road, past Boulder Beach for an awe-inspiring view over Sharpes Beach towards Flat Rock. Keep an eye out for the local marine life, particularly a pod of dolphins that can often be seen surfing the waves at Sharpes Beach.
FLAT ROCK AND COASTAL RECREATIONAL PATH
Travel 4.3kms from Pat Morton Lookout, heading south towards Ballina, turning left at Flat Rock. Take the short 1.4km stroll (each way) between Flat Rock and Angels Beach along the #Aboriginal Cultural Ways (part of the Coastal Recreation Path from Ballina to Lennox Head) to learn about local Aboriginal heritage through a series of 22 interpretive panels.
Drive 1.3kms from Flat Rock, via the Coast Road, turning left at Angels Beach roundabout, following the Coast Road to reach the #Mackay Harrison Gallery on Beachfront Parade. Pop in to view this world renowned artists collection of fabulous bronze sculptures, a technique that is a 6000 year old tradition.
From the Gallery walk 500m south along Beachfront Parade to the intersection of Barwen Street to see the contemporary Aboriginal Murals within the #Jingi Wahla Reconciliation Tunnel and appreciate the stories told in regards to Bundjalung creation. The three brothers: Yarbirri, Mamoon and Burrung were the ancestral founders of the Bundjalung Nation. Walk through the tunnel to the culturally significant Black Head Lookout, another sacred place also rich in Aboriginal dreamtime stories and history. The tunnel can also be accessed from the Coastal Recreation Path.
Turn left in to Shelly Beach Road (approx 1km south of the Gallery) and find out why the locals love the popular café along the beachfront. Explore the rock pools of #Shelly Beach or take in the 180 degree view from Ballina Head Lookout, a perfect vantage point for watching the annual humpback whale migration from June through to October. You will see the Ballina Lighthouse on the hill behind the lookout.
Just 700m along from Shelly Beach is Lighthouse Beach with its surf. Enjoy a coffee or some local seafood at the cafe within the Surf Club and take in the coastal views from its balcony that seems to float above the sand.
Stretch your legs and take a scenic stroll along Ballina’s stunning riverfront, #The Historic Ballina Waterfront trail runs along the Richmond River, starting at the North Wall and showcases Ballina's history and the significance of the river. From here you can walk the whole way to the town centre along the riverfront. Keep your eyes open for the amazing marine life you might encounter; dolphins, turtles and birdlife to name a few. The North Wall is a 900m walk from the Lighthouse Surf Club.
Heading towards Ballina town centre, over Missingham Bridge (1.6kms) you can appreciate the views of the north and south breakwalls and the mouth of the Richmond River and North Creek. Beautiful places on either side of the bridge to fish or enjoy a swim in the calm protected waters.
Continue along River Street (1.8kms from Missingham Bridge), it is lined with stylish cafes and specialty shopping. The riverfront boasting parklands, barbeque facilities, playgrounds, cafes and restaurants. Park at the Ballina Visitor Information Centre and enjoy free all day parking to explore the local attractions on foot all within close proximity.
Behind the Visitors Centre in Regatta Avenue take a voyage of discovery through the Ballina Naval & Maritime Museum. The Museum is home to the Las Balsas Raft, part of the world's largest raft voyage that sailed from Ecuador and was ship wrecked at the mouth of Richmond in 1973. Here you can also watch the entertaining film the young voyagers made on the long journey.
The #Northern Rivers Community Gallery (NRCG) located on the corner of Cherry and Crane Streets is housed in the historic and former Ballina Municipal Council Chambers built in 1927. The Gallery hosts innovative exhibitions and exciting workshops. With loads of charm and ever changing exhibitions, plus a range of local giftware, and an excellent cafe, a visit to the Gallery is a must.
A trip to Ballina would not be complete without taking a photo with the iconic #Big Prawn as a memento! Ballina is synonymous with fresh local seafood, so indulge in today's catch from one of the fresh seafood outlets at the western end of River Street. The Big Prawn is 4.2kms from Ballina Visitor Information Centre.
It is recommended that you contact the Ballina Visitor Information Centre to plan your accommodation and additional local itineraries.
ADDRESSES FOR YOUR GPS
The Farm, 92 Woodford Lane, Ewingsdale NSW 2481
Byron Bay Lighthouse, Lighthouse Road, Byron Bay NSW 2481
Broken Head Nature Reserve, Broken Head Reserve Road, Broken Head NSW 2481
Lake Ainsworth, Pacific Parade, Lennox Head NSW 2478
Seven Mile Beach, Ballina Street, Lennox Head NSW 2478
Lennox Town Centre, Ballina Street, Lennox Head NSW 2478
Park Lane Theatre, Crn Park & Mackney Lanes, Lennox Head NSW 2478
Pat Morton Lookout, The Coast Road, Lennox Head NSW 2478
Boulder Beach, Rocky Point Road, East Ballina NSW 2478
Sharpes Beach, The Coast Road, East Ballina NSW 2478
Flat Rock, Flat Rock Road, East Ballina NSW 2478
Aboriginal Cultural Ways, The Coast Road, East Ballina NSW 2478
Mackay Harrison Gallery, 79 Bayview Dr, East Ballina NSW 2478
Angels Beach, The Coast Road, East Ballina NSW 2478
Jingi Wahla Reconciliation Tunnel, Bayview Drive, East Ballina NSW 2478
Shelly Beach, Shelly Beach Road, East Ballina NSW 2478
Ballina Lighthouse, Harbourview Street, East Ballina NSW 2478
Lighthouse Beach Surf Club, Lighthouse Parade, East Ballina NSW 2478
Lighthouse Beach, Lighthouse Parade, East Ballina NSW 2478
North Wall, Lighthouse Parade, East Ballina NSW 2478
Historic Ballina Waterfront, The North Wall, Lighthouse Parade, East Ballina NSW 2478
Ballina Visitor Information Centre, 6 River Street, Ballina NSW 2478
Ballina Naval & Maritime Museum, Regatta Ave, Ballina NSW 2478
Ballina Manor, 25 Norton Street, Ballina NSW 2478
Northern Rivers Community Gallery, 44 Cherry Street, Ballina NSW 2478
Big Prawn, Ballina Bunnings, Corner of Horizon Drive & River Street, West Ballina NSW 2478