“Byron Bay may be the best holiday destination on the planet – but Ballina has better fishing!” say the locals of the northern NSW town of Ballina. Indeed, there are a plethora of pleasures to be experienced in Ballina, Byron Bay and the surrounding area. Creative types are particularly attracted to this region and there are many authors and film-makers that seek their inspiration alongside surfers and sun lovers. Ballina originally gained its reputation as a fishing and timber port on the wide Richmond River. Then road transport took over, and with it came one of the craziest moves in town planning history. That is, Ballina’s main street ’River Street’ was set way back from the river, with buildings on both sides of the street now blocking all river views. However this has now changed with the development of the river foreshore area. Only three decades ago, Byron Bay was a small sleepy enclave unaware of the hustle and bustle it would later see. Nowadays, the local authorities even have to close off the town for its New Year’s celebrations each year, because so many people flock into town. Byron Bay has that small town charm mixed with a cosmopolitan – yet alternative – lifestyle that attracts mainly people from all over the world. There are no high-rise hotels here but plenty of kilometres of unbroken sandy beaches and heaps of great surf waves to catch. Furthermore, Byron Bay is surrounded by an abundance of pristine nature and wildlife. Due to its location as Australia’s most eastern point, the majestic humpback whales pass by twice a year on their travels. You will never be short for a local market here and all through the year annual festivals take place. This is another attracting factor to lovely Ballina / Byron Bay, where most travellers find themselves staying much longer than they had originally planned. Despite the coastal town’s reputation of being laid back and alternative, it is anything but boring and visitors have the time of their lives in Ballina and Byron Bay! The Ballina region is mind-blowingly diverse, a quiet retirees’ world not far from the surfing Mecca of Lennox Heads, the funky hilltop village of Bangalow, and much, much more!