Beach NSW 29 commences at South Ballina at the southern Richmond River entrance wall, and curves gently yo the south for 30 km to the smaller entrance walls at the mouth of the Evans River built between 1959-63. While the beach is bordered by training walls 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 at the South Ballina training wall and nearby caravan park, from several lanes or roads that run east from the River Drive and Pacific Highway 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 a 30 m high dune. At the southern end the popular tourist and fishing town of Evans Head has a surf club and all facilities.
The entire beach is 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 'coffeerock' . Similar rock outcrops along the northern NSW and southern Queensland coast. Elsewhere, more recent dunes cover the older deposits, with the dunes in the north backed by the rich floodplains of the Richmond River.
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 200-300 m, which usually maintain over 100 rips along the beach. 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 swimming. 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.
The beach consists of seven continuous sections, beginning with South Ballina (NSW 29a) in the north. For 30 years from 1908 one of the State’s first Surf Clubs was located here. This was in the days before the present Lighthouse Beach was considered safe enough for swimming. 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 this early club. Today the beach is patrolled by lifeguards during the summer holidays.
Extending to the southwest is Beswicks (NSW 29b) accessible via the Empire Vale Road, backed by dunes and undeveloped, likewise Robins (NSW 29c), which has no direct access. Patches (NSW 29d) is located at the end of the Patches Beach Road, with a cluster of holiday houses behind the 20 m high dune. Next is Broadwater (NSW 29e), the most accessible with the lookout and adjoining national park camping and picnic area. Finally is Evans Head (NSW 29f) and Airforce (NSW 29g) the latter the site of the Evans Head township and surf club.
Evans Head patrolled beach provides the best location for swimming. The Evans Head SLSC 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 (Fig. 4.24), conditions that result in 35 rescues a year.
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.