These Aussies love their lot

Witnessing community spirit is good for the soul.image

A road trip to Australia’s Ballina  Coast and Hinterland allowed us to listen to the locals talk with pride about their remarkable part of the world.

And it left an indelible mark.

To say we’re impressed is an understatement.

For us, it’s a bit like: “We’ll have whatever they’re all having”.

Entrepreneurship and community pride

Such ‘can do’ attitude, self belief, determination to find new ways of doing things and commitment to quality service is always uplifting even in small measures. But the Ballina Coast and Hinterland is fortunate to boast these attributes in bucket loads.

We found entrepreneurship and community pride enough to convince us that the Ballina Coast and Hinterland is indeed a special place – not only as a desirable tourist destination, but also to settle, start a business, raise a family and turn dreams into reality.

imageThe second annual Ballina Prawn Festival was a perfect example. Ballina is well known for the ‘Big Prawn’ that stands on the outskirts of the town, so this festival was a logical extension of that fame and a celebration of the importance of the local seafood industry.

Big Prawn Festival

Enthusiasm for this festival met us at every corner. Everyone was going; wanted to know if we’d be there; and felt it was important to showcase what the area could do.

It was an impressive show of support for the Ballina Prawn Festival – and it wasn’t an exaggeration.

The big crowds who braved hot weather to attend the 2nd annual festival, centred on Ballina’s Missingham Park, were certainly enthuastic.

imageCrowds clapped acts on the main stage; took part in the various events in big numbers; stood in often trying queues for the Ferris Wheel; delighted in the prawn shelling; urged on craft in the DIY Raft Race; and lined the riverbank for the Spectacular fireworks that ended the festival.

Prawn champ wins again

Festival-goers loudly cheered Torben Mikkelsen, of Yamba, when he shelled and ate half-a-kilogram of prawns in 1 minute and 43 seconds to retain the title he won in 2013.

And, at every chance, people eagerly praised the festival concept and the importance of such promotions to the continued prosperity of Ballina Coast and Hinterland.

The enthusiasm was infectious and certainly uplifting.

To us, it seems that a visit to Australia’s Ballina Coast and Hinterland is good for just about whatever ails you.

Where is Ballina?

Ballina and surrounds are about 745 kilometres north of Sydney in sub-tropical northern New South Wales.

Alternatively, the area is just over two hours by car South of Brisbane.

For our visit, our hosts were the Best Western Ballina Island Motor Inn, the Central Ballina Holiday Park and the Alstonville Country Cottages.

Road trips

Ballina, Australia

We thoroughly recommend a road trip to the Ballina coast and hinterland of eastern Australia.

This part of sub-tropical northern Australia is close to the heart of generations of Aussies, for whom the annual summer beach holiday was something of a rite of passage.

These memories, in many ways, are part of the Australian makeup: reassuring recollections of time spent in tried and tested holiday areas.

Diversifying to remain relevant

And, despite the challenges of modern motorways and cheap overseas flights, the Ballina coast and hinterland has maintained its attraction to visitors by diversifying into an eclectic blend of old and new.

imageBallina’s lure for holidaymakers remains as strong as ever.

The remarkable sunsets go on forever and the area remains blessed with long stretches of pristine beach and charming riverland, ideal for boating, fishing, surfing and other outdoor activities.

But Ballina also recognises that natural beauty and superb climate needs to be accompanied by a vibrant community, diverse economy, high quality facilities – and even a taste for the exotic.

There’s a theory that a key to economic growth lies in attracting creativity. If that’s so, then Ballina coast and hinterland – and in fact, much of the Australia’s legendary Pacific Coast – is way ahead of the game and is showing the rest of the country a thing or two about creativity and cultural diversity.image

A food paradise

For example, Ballina coast and hinterland has gained an enviable reputation as a foodies paradise, with some of the finest local produce imaginable, including plenty of fresh seafood, macadamia nuts, avocados, honey, hydroponically-grown tomatoes, fresh vegetables and even coffee.

Local restaurants and cafes, where possible source their products locally, with an emphasis on freshness and quality.

For example, the cafe at The Macadamia Castle – a popular local tourist attraction – uses colour coding on its menu to show which products are grown in the Ballina area.

Ballina’s seafood is known for its high quality and the town’s Fish Co-op plays an important role in the local economy.image

Arts, crafts, healthcare and leisure

And then there’s the area’s thriving arts and music scenes. From world-class pottery to performing arts and theatre, Ballina Coast and Hinterland oozes cutting edge creativity.

Surrounded by such natural beauty and peacefulness, it’s probably only logical that the area would also become a magnet for those seeking health and wellbeing. The hinterland and surroundings have become well known for retreats and spas, including the famed Gaia facility at Brooklet, part-owned by entertainer, Olivia Newton-John.

This complements the Ballina coast and hinterland’s healthcare industry and strong outdoor flavour, where visitors and residents can get up close and personal with nature on a kayak tour, cycling on a modern network of paths, or trying their hand at Stand Up Paddleboarding on Lake Ainsworth.

Strong community support

All this needs excellent community facilities and assistance, which is where Ballina Shire Council comes in, helping to generate the final ingredients – thriving commerce, social services and a fierce community pride.

And to top it off, today’s sweeping highways can get you to the Ballina Coast and Hinterland in greater safety and with far less stress than ever – well within a day’s travel north from Sydney and just over two hours south of Brisbane.

Thoughts of a retro holiday at Ballina Coast and Hinterland may well tug at the heartstrings, but this fascinating area also offers visitors so much more than just the beach scenes from those faded black and white snapshots.

legendary pacific coast