Things To Do in Ballina Byron BayAs proud locals, we've curated the top things to do in Ballina Byron Bay including where to find the best coffee in Ballina and the best foodie experiences. Read on!
We acknowledge that this beautiful place we call home, and that many find joy in visiting, is the land of the Bundjalung people. The Bundjalung are the Traditional Occupants of this land and waters and are part of the oldest surviving continuous culture in the world. We pay respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.
Here at Old Quarter, we’re passionate about our local community and bursting with pride when it comes to our home in the Ballina Shire. In the past, tourists have often skipped a visit to Ballina and its surrounds, instead heading straight for the renowned tourist destination Byron Bay. More recently however, savvy travellers have started to take notice – drawn towards the picturesque, uncrowded beaches, lush valleys, the perfect wave, a sincere and energetic cultural scene plus amazing local food (and coffee!). With visitor numbers reaching more than 1 million across the 2021-2022 season, we’d say it’s time to put Ballina on your bucket list and experience everything this amazing area has to offer.
As your hosts, we've curated this list of the top things to do within the Ballina region of North Coast NSW, including (of course) where to find Old Quarter Coffee so that you’ll be caffeinated and connected as you discover this special place.
Start the Day with Coffee & Brunch
Come and visit us! The heart of our specialty coffee company – Our Café is situated in the Ballina Industrial Estate and filled with beautiful people and delicious treats. Grab a coffee to go from our welcoming staff and ask us about which delicious beans we’re serving up that day.
You can also pop into one of the cafés in town serving up our specialty coffee. Tel Aviv Yafo down on River Street is known for it's middle eastern cuisine and great central location. The Dove Café on Tamar Street offers delicious food and coffee but they also have a social mission to support young people to develop much needed skills.
Head north to Lennox Head, where you’ll find Williams Street, a casual all-day dining restaurant serving our Village Blend and amazing breakfast and lunch options, seven days a week.
For those interested in local wildlife, our region has some of the best whale watching opportunities along the East Coast. We recommend Out of the Blue Adventures for ocean cruises during migration (May-November). The Australian Seabird Rescue is a coastal Education and Marine Wildlife Rescue Centre located in Ballina, which provides care for sick and injured sea turtles, pelicans, shorebirds, and seabird species, and run guided walkthroughs of the Ballina Byron Sea Turtle Hospital.
For those looking for some beautiful walks, Killen Falls Reserve is about a 15-minute drive outside of Ballina; a serene waterfall and swimming hole, with a short 660m return walk.
For a longer trip on foot, you can walk the 11km from Ballina to Lennox Head along some of the region’s most dramatic coastlines. If this is too daunting, just choose one section of the track – our favourite is the part (roughly 4kms) between Sharpes Beach and the Pat Morton Lookout. Best views are at sunrise - if you can make it!
The Best Places to Swim (and Surf)
East Ballina boasts three beautiful, patrolled beaches: Sharpes, Lighthouse and Shelly’s. At Lighthouse Beach you’ll find the Capiche Kiosk serving up our delicious Cloud Nine coffee and snacks. If you’re looking for a family-friendly swimming option, there’s also Shaws Bay and The Serpentine, where you can set up on the banks of the calm and pristine water.
Lennox Head is famous for its legendary surf breaks at Boulder Beach (one of Australia’s National Surfing Reserves) or take a lesson with Soul Surf School or Surf Getaways (and if you’re here in winter, don’t miss the annual surfing comps!). For a swim, head over to the breath-taking Seven Mile Beach – which runs all the way from Lennox to Broken Head. If you’re looking for some still, fresh water, spend the afternoon at the tea-tree lined Lake Ainsworth, which has ample shade and great facilities for a picnic, swim, and kayak.
Art and Culture
The farmers markets are a quintessential Northern Rivers community experience. Every Sunday locals flock to the Ballina Farmers Market to sample and stock up on local produce, meet friends and family, indulge in delicious street foods, peruse artisan gifts and enjoy some live entertainment. There’s also Lennox Community Market on the 2nd and 5th Sundays of the month, and the Alstonville Plateau Market on the 2nd Sunday of the month.
Be sure to check out our favourite local ceramicist Brooke Clunie at Red Door Studio and Gallery in the Ballina Hinterland. Brooke’s pieces celebrate ‘colour, vitality and imagination’ – exactly what we’re looking for in our coffee drinking vessels.
For a Great Night Out
For dinner in Ballina, you can’t go wrong with Capiche Restaurant at Lighthouse Beach or authentic and intimate Italian at Lola Dining. There’s also Japanese inspired share plates and delicious cocktails at Hey lady Diner on River Street.
For a craft beer, our neighbours at Seven Mile Brewing are the best in town. In Lennox Head, Shorty's is a great place for a drink, small bites, and some live music. From Thursday-Sunday Williams Street pulls out all the stops for dinner service, with live music on the weekend and a cocktail list we can’t get enough of (it’s so nice, we’ve listed it twice!)
And of course, the Big Prawn
Getting a pic in front of our famous 9 metre tall, 35 tonne Big Prawn is a must-do. Positioned right on the main road as you’re entering Ballina, you really can’t miss it!