I enjoy visiting and reviewing camping areas for this magazine simply because I really enjoy camping myself and when I come across a camping area that really stands out from the pack I tend to get a little excited.
And make no mistake, this is a very special sort of camping place when we look at its location with river frontage to the north, 50km of beach stretching away to the south west from just behind the camping area, and a mix of cabins, camping sites with or without slabs for vans, great café facilities and its own entertainment complex. This is Ballina Beach Village.
For the record, and not having visited these expansive camp grounds at South Ballina for a few years, I was more than slightly impressed with the changes the place has undergone to the extent that I have arranged stay. While I enjoy boat fishing, I never tire of fishing river walls and the pleasures that go with every aspect of beach fishing; from catching worms to driving along slowly to assess likely spots and then putting that judgment to the ultimate test of taking a fish. A beach permit is not required to access the beach at South Ballina.
The Ballina Beach Village at Dolphin Bay is located at 440 South Ballina Beach Road, South Ballina. It’s a tucked away sort of location with the forested Richmond River Reserve on the northern side of the Village, unspoiled dunes covered in native vegetation to the south and the ocean 400m away. South Ballina Road extends past the camping grounds a short distance to allow anglers access to the south wall of the Richmond River via an easy walk from the car park. Boaters also have access to the river; there’s a small craft ramp near the camp grounds and from there boaties can have a crack at the resident flathead, bream, whiting and jew.
Once within the Village the options for visitors are diverse and very relaxing. The office, kiosk, café with snacks and coffee are adjoining as is the well set up and spacious dining area with its leafy outlook. Note that the acclaimed Village’s Mermaids Café servicing the large dining area is orientated towards seafood but with the ubiquitous burgers also on the menu. How does lemon pepper calamari or Thai prawn stir fry sound?
Newcomers accustomed to more crowded camping areas are going to find the sheer size of the camping area at Ballina Beach Village quite impressive and as all fully grassed sites are on sand, good drainage is assured. My visit to research this article was just after heavy rain and there was no water laying about.
There’s shade aplenty throughout the grounds and ample room to really stretch out and enjoy yourself. With so many trees and tucked away little corners available, you can virtually enjoy wilderness camping with the comforts of the very clean toilet blocks and other amenities not far away. And let’s not lose sight of the availability of that great café on hand to give the cook in the crew a break.
For those who like to hire on site accommodation there are fully self-contained deluxe cabins with AC, Austar, Wifi, flatscreen TVs and other luxuries including linen and fully self-contained kitchens. Standard cabins offer air conditioning, linen, TV and self-contained kitchens. Even some of the original angler’s huts are still in use and these offer quite good accommodation as well.
A very large self-contained camp kitchen is part of the package for users to enjoy along with two swimming pools, shelter sheds, barbeques, children’s playground and there’s even a flying trapeze and circus school for youngsters to enjoy during weekends. Note that festival and music entertainment is on hand during school holidays and long weekends. As an aside a dedicated music hall/entertainment area is almost completed.
With drivers able to travel as far west as Evans Head along the beach (50km) there’s no shortage of beach fishing opportunities if the conditions are right. The South Ballina Beach is a noted producer of XOS whiting and with beach worms on tap these sweet eating fish are highly sought. Beach access is very good as a formed track adjoining the camp grounds will give 4wd vehicles easy passage onto the sand. If you plan to take your soft roader down onto the beach my advice is walk the track first to have a close look at the beach entry/exit point to make sure the sand is not too soft. There’s no substitute for low range when push turns to hard shove.
The fabulous Richmond River cannot be overlooked, nor should the South Wall be either. This river can run somewhat dirty during flood runoff but that’s also when some of the best bream and jew catches are made. Concentrating the main effort to coincide with the ingress of clean water from the ocean as the flood tide pushes upstream is the key to success as fish tend to follow the clean water upriver and then back again in a definite pattern.
If fishing the wall with heavy tackle for jew or big tailor don’t forget the extendable gaff as the next big jewie hooked from that wall is not going to be first.
If travelling north on the Pacific Highway (from Woodburn and Evans Head) turn off just before the Wardell Bridge and follow River Drive which leads to South Ballina Road. If travelling south from Ballina take the Burns Point Ferry Road just past the Big Prawn attraction on the western outskirts of town and once off the ferry turn left into South Ballina Road at the junction nearby.
Ballina Beach Village Dolphin Bay also caters for weddings, large sporting groups, meditation groups and the like. One thing’s certain though, there’s room for all.
Contacts for this great camping and holiday venue area are phone (02) 6686 3347, mobile 0427 847 057 or email on --e-mail address hidden-- and you might even see me there as well as I’m sure going back.Reads: 5036