It’s been a great Australian tradition to take the family away camping or caravaning in the school holidays, and Australian caravan parks are embedded in the Australian psyche of thousands of Australians as a childhood memory of timeless, lazy days by the beach, the smell of open fires and camp cooking, sing-alongs and walks in the bush… Aussie caravan parks have a unique atmosphere that is laid-back and friendly with a certain humble, rustic innocence that makes them a firm favourite for families and back packers alike when it comes to low-cost holidays that are a real, refreshing break from the daily grind.
There is a great caravan park with a difference, hidden on the south side of the Richmond River at the beachside town of Ballina, on the Far North Coast of New South Wales, only a half an hour from Byron Bay – the Ballina Beach Village.
Position is everything when it comes to great holiday locations and Ballina Beach Village has it all, the wide graceful Richmond River, abundant in great fishing on one side, absolute deserted beach frontage on the other, and pristine national park behind – it makes for the perfect getaway on a budget, and is especially well set up for a wonderful family holiday.
Heading south on the Pacific Highway out of Ballina, the Big Prawn is an iconic local landmark and the turn to Ballina Beach Village is left at the next roundabout, for half a kilometre to the Burns Point Ferry.
Let’s hope they never build a bridge here – taking the old style car ferry makes you feel like you are leaving the world behind, and you immediately feel time shift down a gear, as you watch the pelicans gliding on the Richmond River against a backdrop of mangroves and fishing boats. Take the next left when you drive off the punt (don’t forget to pay the ferryman -it’s $4.80 for a car) and head along a good bitumen road past some isolated holiday houses and cane fields and out towards the beach.
Ballina Beach Village is the last on the right and is well sign posted, but you’ll see the colourful flags along the road as you approach.
Owners Rikki and Bernhard Grinberg are there to meet and greet and they are a delightful, interesting and cultured couple with a grand vision for making Ballina Beach Village the best little caravan park in the Known Universe.
There are three levels of accommodation available – comfortable family cabin units with all mod cons, you can park your caravan or pitch a tent, and they have three large Tipis. We chose to stay in one of the Tipis to get the camping experience without the fuss of setting up.
The Tipis are large and fitted out with a comfy double bed and some stylish furniture with a canvas floor and are set at the far side of the park against the national park.
There is a great rustic camp kitchen with everything you need to cook a barby, toasters, jugs, but they also boast Mermaids Cafe on a wide verandah fitted out with sumptuous Balinese lounges for an a la carte meal or burgers and chips, and their amazing chef Jason does absolute wonders out of a tiny little kitchen, often cooking for up to a hundred people – and… well, when did you hear of a caravan park hosting top class music?
The Cowgirl Soirre (two award winning country artists Clelia Adams and Kathryn Jones) were featured on the night we stayed, with beautiful lush country vocals and awesome renditions of great country classics from Dolly Parton’s “Joelene” through to Patsy Cline classics and even some pretty skilled yodelling. These girls were real entertainers and had great audience participation happening, just a fabulous way to spend a balmy summers evening over a bottle of red (you have to bring your own). This top shelf, highly entertaining music while we enjoyed the excellent dinner at Mermaids was a real surprise and a bonus that made our stay even more special.
One of the most impressive attractions is the circus trapeze and The Ballina Beach Village offers (from time to time) circus skills classes, fire-twirling classes, and yoga retreats.
The camping village is situated right on / next to a long deserted beach and this is really something to experience at dawn for an early morning walk, and you can 4WD down the beach – but have respect for the migrating birds who nest there – its quite the bird sanctuary because of it’s isolated position.
But be careful – it’s very isolated and not patrolled, can be treacherous at times and you swim at your own risk.
Ballina Beach Village is family friendly and have great facilities for kids to enjoy, and give the parents some time to themselves. A great swimming pool of course.
The Village is pet friendly – as long as you don’t bring a killer dog, and you keep your pet under reasonable control (and clean up after).
For a wonderful secluded holiday, with the traditional holiday atmopshere of an Aussie Caravan Park, but with so many surprising extras that bring the whole caravan park experience into a classier, more cultured realm, without losing the humble, relaxed feel – Ballina Beach Village is really worth a visit. if you are a caravaner or camper it’s got everything you need. It’s about a half an hour from Byron Bay and the annual Blues Festival and Splendour in the Grass Festival – handy to know if you are a music lover.
Great people, friendly atmosphere, top facilities, affordable rates, clean and well thought out – we give it the BIG THUMBS UP!