Travel Diary » Rock pools and shells in Ballina
We've just spent a week in Ballina and Alstonville in northern New South Wales, Australia. Just south of Byron Bay, this is the region I grew up in. The blog has been quiet because apart from being rather busy catching up with friends and family, functioning WIFI has been harder to come across than in Laos and Cambodia! It's not a remote region of Australia but for some reason WIFI and mobile phone networks are very unreliable. Oh well!
One of the nicest afternoons was spent on the beach with Nanna. We've seen some beautiful beaches in our travels but in my mind at least, there are no beaches quite as wonderful as the ones I grew up on in Ballina, near Byron Bay in Australia. We've seen more beautiful beaches. There are even more beautiful beaches in the region. But I have so many memories attached with these beaches it's hard not to enjoy a visit here more than a visit to any other beaches, particularly now that I have children of my own that I can take here and re-experience those memories.
Shelly Beach has always been my favourite. The northern two-thirds is white sand while the southern portion has rock pools and lots of shells. As a child that's where the real attraction lay. Rock pools filled with crabs, anemones, small fish and starfish. Shells to collect of all sizes, particularly if you got there early in the morning after a storm. Today there are a lot less shells but there are still enough to happily entertain children for an hour or two!
As teens we outgrew the rock-pools and shells in favour of the actual beach but now that I have kids it's the rock-pools and shells that we always end up back at.
During this visit we jumped the smaller waves in the sandy patches between rock pools.
Hayley made sand castles while Noah opted for climbing the rocks on a nearby headland.
And of course, we collected shells. A lot of shells! A motley collection that was considered too priceless by the kids to be left behind. It was lovingly carried back to Nanna's ... where it was quickly forgotten and left all over Nanna's backyard. Sorry Nanna!
Shelly Beach is a fantastic beach to visit with kids for the rock pools and shells. If you go in the afternoon the southern end will be in shade. There are toilets and showers - always a bonus with children!
However it's not always the safest swimming beach in the area - there can be rips and strong currents. It's not a dangerous beach, but it is certainly a beach where conditions can be rough in bad weather and it can be tricky to read the conditions if you are not familiar surf. Over summer surf-lifesavers will be present on the weekends and on weekdays during school holidays.
Just south of Shelly Beach is Main Beach, another great beach and depending on the wind and conditions it can often offer better swimming conditions. Main Beach is also patrolled over summer. There are no shells but at low tide you can walk around the headland to Shelly Beach and you'll often find shade here in the mornings.
Shelly Beach and Main Beach are the first two beaches you'll come across in Ballina as you cross the river and drive towards the coast. Main Beach is right next to the river on the northern side. Shelley Beach is the next beach to the north.