This magnificent beach is 31 km long, the second longest in the state, running in a long sweeping arc from the southern Richmond River entrance wall, uninterrupted to the smaller entrance walls at the mouth of the Evans River, at Evans Head. For 30 years from 1908, one of the state's first surf clubs was located at South Ballina Beach. This was in the days before the present Ballina beach was considered safe enough for bathing. A ferry service delivered people to a wharf in Mobbs Bay where a large picnic grounds and a kiosk were located. Those wanting a surf had to walk across the sand dunes to the beach. The growing popularity of Lighthouse beach and the closure of the ferry service ended the need for the continuity of this early club.
The present beach is bounded by man-made features, but for the remainder of its length it is in a natural state, with the Broadwater National Park occupying 9.5 km of shoreline north of Evans Head. Access to the beach is provided in the north from several lanes or roads that run east from the Pacific Highway and River Drive to reach the back of the dunes. From there you are on foot unless you have a 4WD. Good sealed access is provided in Broadwater National Park, with a short walk leading to an excellent view point located on of the highest dunes. At the southern end the small, but popular tourist and fishing town of Evans Head has a surf club and all facilities.
The entire beach is primarily a remnant of an older Pleistocene beach-barrier system that probably formed about 120 000 years ago when sea level was a little higher than present. The remains of this beach are slowly being eroded, exposing, particularly at Broadwater, the leached white dune sands, and on the beach the old indurated B horizon of the dune soils, commonly referred to as 'coffee rock' where it outcrops along the northern NSW and southern Queensland coast. Elsewhere, more recent dunes cover the older deposits, with the dunes in turn backed by the rich floodplains of the Richmond River in the north.
This entire beach is fronted by a double bar system. This is a product of its long length, which exposes it to the dominant southerly waves, together with the fine beach sand which results in a firm, low gradient beach and surf zone. The inner bar is usually attached and cut by rips every 200 to 300 m. These flow into a deep longshore trough with a rhythmic to straight bar further offshore. These conditions, plus the remoteness of much of this beach, make for potentially hazardous bathing. If you are swimming here stay on the inner bar, away from the rips. Do not enter the trough unless you are a strong and experienced surf swimmer.
Evans Head patrolled beach provides the safest location for swimming. However the club was formed following the drowning of a 16 year old girl at this end of the beach in the 1920s. The beach here is prone to inner bar rips and the offshore bar and trough, plus a permanent rip against the northern training wall; conditions that produce 35 rescues a year.
Beach Length: 31km
General Hazard Rating:
There are currently no services provided by Surf Life Saving Australia for this beach. Please take the time to browse the Surf Safety section of this website to learn more about staying safe when swimming at Australian beaches.
Click here to visit general surf education information.
SLSA provides this information as a guide only. Surf conditions are variable and therefore this information should not be relied upon as a substitute for observation of local conditions and an understanding of your abilities in the surf. SLSA reminds you to always swim between the red and yellow flags and never swim at unpatrolled beaches. SLSA takes all care and responsibility for any translation but it cannot guarantee that all translations will be accurate.