Dog-Friendly Ballina: Visiting Ballina with a Dog

The town of Ballina on the North Coast of NSW is the more laid back alternative to hip Byron Bay. It’s located about a 30 minute drive south of Byron, at the mouth of the Richmond River and an easy detour off the Pacific Highway. Find out what to do and where to stay when visiting Ballina with a dog.

Dog-Friendly Ballina

Dog-Friendly Beaches in Ballina

No visit to Ballina with a dog is complete without a visit to some of the dog-friendly beaches located close to the town.

The only off-leash beach right in Ballina is The Spit. This popular stretch of sand is located on the eastern side of Ballina, just before the Missingham Bridge. Dogs are allowed off-leash on the river beach and sand bar alongside Missingham Park – search for “Missingham Park Off Leash Area” on Google. Just avoid the water shortly after heavy rains in the area.

Another off-leash dog beach nearby is Seven Mile Beach in Lennox Head. The off-leash section of this ocean beach starts just north of the Surf Club, adjacent to Lake Ainsworth, and extends to the very distant end of the beach, also used by 4WDs.

Lennox Head Beach with Dogs
The dog-friendly section of Seven Mile Beach

To access the off-leash beach section, one option is to use the access path just north of the Surf Club, with dogs required to be on leash on the path until you reach the beach. Note that dogs aren’t allowed on the rest of the reserve around the lake. Alternatively, take Camp Drewe Road around to the 4WD access point to access the beach with your dog.

Seven Mile Beach at the 4WD access point
The 4WD access point to Seven Mile Beach

Dogs are also allowed on a number of beaches around Ballina on-leash. Head to Angels Beach in East Ballina, the northernmost of its beaches. Just north of Flat Rock, dogs are also allowed on Sharpes Beach in Skennars Heads, except for the patrolled section at the northern end of the beach when it is patrolled.

From north to south, dogs are strictly prohibited from Lighthouse Beach and Shelly Beach in East Ballina, the Flat Rock Reef, the northern end of Sharpes Beach when it is patrolled, and the entire southern end of Seven Mile Beach, even when not patrolled.

Dogs are also not allowed on the beach adjacent to the Serpentine in East Ballina, on the eastern side of Missingham Bridge. For a full list, see the council website.

Dog-Friendly Parks in Ballina

Dogs are also allowed off-leash at a number of parks around Ballina. Probably the best option is the Compton Dog Park, located in East Ballina. This mostly fenced dog park features an agility course, water station and plenty of walking tracks through the forested sections – perfect for dogs who like some space.

Dogs are also allowed off-leash in the northern area of Bicentennial Gardens in Ballina (although previous visitors report a lack of signage), at the Headlands Drive Drainage Reserve in Skennars Head (adjacent to Skennars Head Road) and at the eastern reserve area at Ballina Heights Estate.

View this map produced by the council showing the rough location of all of these areas.

Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in Ballina

Ballina is a great spot for a lazy holiday near the beach with your pup. But also consider ticking off these things to do…

#1 Check out the Big Prawn

You can’t visit Ballina and not stop off at the Big Prawn. Constructed in 1989, this Big Thing is located on the western side of Ballina, with the best views from the adjacent Bunnings carpark. Stop and get a selfie with your dog!

Big Prawn Ballina with Dog
Check out the Big Prawn in Ballina with your dog

#2 Follow the Kerry Saxby Walkway

Ballina is home to network of shared pathways, that are great for on-leash dog walks, as long as you keep your dog on a short leash and out of the way of cyclists. Most of the main paths are shown in this brochure.

One of the best options for a walk with your dog is the Kerry Saxby Walkway. This 4.5km walkway follows the northern bank of the Richmond River, connecting the Ballina city centre and the North Wall at the river mouth. Along the way it passes by the off-leash Spit dog beach. Walk the entire length or just part of it with your pup.

For a longer walk, follow the coastal walk from East Ballina to Lennox Head. Note that dogs are prohibited from Shaws Bay including most of the Shaws Bay Loop Walk.

#3 Explore Historic Alstonville

The small hinterland town of Alstonville is situated 13km west of Ballina. First settled in the 1860s, during the late 19th century it was home to booming farming and timber milling industries, with nine sugar mills, four timber mills and of course two pubs.

With its wide streets, many historic buildings and fine parks, it offers quite a contrast to modern Ballina. Follow the 800m long self-guided Alstonville Heritage Walk, starting at Crawford House Museum.

Alstonville is also home to an off-leash dog exercise area, located on Gap Road on the northern side of town.

#4 Head to Newrybar

It’s a quick 20 minute drive north along the Pacific Motorway to the delightful small village of Newrybar, home to the award-winning Harvest Newrybar restaurant.

Alongside the restaurant is the wonderful Harvest deli and coffee-stand. Consider purchasing some of their sourdough bread, baked in a 120-year-old wood-fired oven, or a delicious sausage roll. I enjoyed one of the latter out on the verandah, with my dog hoovering up the crumbs.

Dog outside Harvest Deli in Newrybar
Schnitzel waiting for sausage roll crumbs outside of Harvest Deli

Newrybar is also home to some gorgeous shops. Browse out the front of Luther & Co, a homewares store named after the owner’s German Shepherd. While Luther has now passed away, you’ll still likely encounter a dog or two out the front.

Luther & Co in Newrybar
Luther & Co in Newrybar

For more ideas in the region, see my guide to visiting Byron Bay with a dog

Dog-Friendly Pubs in Ballina

In East Ballina, head to the waterfront Shaws Bay Hotel. As well as regular meal specials on weeknights, the pub welcomes pups on a leash in its outdoor dining area. Keep an eye out for occasional special dog events.

Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Ballina

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive commission if you make a purchase using the links. See my full disclaimer.

Ballina has a wide range of dog-friendly accommodation, generally at cheaper prices than you’ll find in the more glamorous Byron Bay.

One of the best places to stay with your dog is the Ballina Beach Nature Resort in South Ballina, previously Ballina Beach Village. This park is located on the southern side of the Richmond River, accessible by the Burns Point Ferry, or the bridge further south at Wardell.

Pets are welcome year round at the park, both on sites and in a range of accommodation, including selected pet-friendly cabins, villas and glamping tents. During peak periods, there is a restriction of one pet per site or accommodation.

My pick of the options are their gorgeous glamping tents. Selected Couple’s Retreat Luxury Tents (with a four-posted queen-size bed and single loft bed for two children) and the larger Family Adventure Glamping Tents (accommodating up to six) are pet-friendly.

Each glamping tent features an indoor ensuite bathroom, internal kitchen and spacious deck. Look out for the ones listed as “Pet Friendly” when booking online.

Ballina Beach Couples Retreat Exterior
The Couple’s Retreat Luxury Tent © Ballina Beach Nature Resort
Ballina Beach Inside Couples Retreat
The four-poster queen-size bed inside © Ballina Beach Nature Resort

Make sure you advise the property at the time of your booking that you have a pet. An additional fee of $20 per pet per night applies in accommodation. On sites, if you have more than one pet, a fee of $10 per additional pet per night applies.

Note that the adjacent nature reserve and beach strictly prohibit dogs. However, there’s a large fenced dog park onsite, with a mixture of open and shady areas to enjoy with your pup.

Back on the northern side of the river, the following caravan parks also permit pet dogs:

Another option to consider is the Almare Hotel Ballina. Initially the only pet-friendly motel in Ballina, pets stay for free when you make a direct booking. It’s also possible to

Pets are also allowed at the Ballina Homestead Motel in selected ground-floor rooms – make sure you mention you have a pet at the time of booking. Up to two cats and dogs are permitted per room, but not on the bed or furniture. There is an additional fee of $20 per pet per night.

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About the Author

Photo of Shandos & Schnitzel

Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.

2 thoughts on “Dog-Friendly Ballina: Visiting Ballina with a Dog”

  1. Just wanted to say a big thank you for your site, it is my go to when we di any travel with our 3 dogs and caravan. It is a fantastic source of information. We are currently travelling in van and use the site everyday!


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