SETTING UP camp smack-bang between Lake Ainsworth and the ocean provides for plenty of opportunity for long, lazy sunny days near the water doing… well… pretty much as much or as little as you want.
Don’t expect to be 4x4ing all day every day though, but there’s the excellent, easily accessed Seven Mile Beach just a few minutes away that you can drive onto (with a permit) to set up for the day.
Regardless if you’re a fisho, surfer, swimmer, or are into paddling or just out for an easy 4x4 along a pristine beach, then you’ll surely enjoy your time at this beach.
No need to pack your 4x4 for an epic journey into the great unknown for this one; the beach is slotted between the well-known towns of Byron Bay (to the north) and Ballina (to the south). In fact, scenic Lennox Head is right where the action is.
Seven Mile Beach runs from Lennox Head north to near Broken Head, and is accessed from the Old Mining Road – a good gravel road that starts near the southern end of Lake Ainsworth, loops around the western rim, and heads north to where there’s an easily accessible 4x4 beach access point – too easy and close enough to take your fish and chips, prawns or hamburgers from the local shops to munch on while they’re still juicy and hot!
There’s no camping on the beach; we opted for the soft option of setting up our camper trailer in the caravan park near Lake Ainsworth, which has great amenities and allows for easy walking to both water fronts – tea tree-stained fresh and eye-stinging salty.
Heck, this was such a soft camping option that we walked into town the first night to dine in one of the many outdoor cafes. After that, it was hoeing into fish hooked on the beach and cooked on the public barbecues near the lake – they really don’t get any fresher than that!
For those with kids, you’ll no doubt love the opportunity to play in the water
The lake is perfect for canoeing and sailing, while the ocean provides plenty of opportunity to hang ten, fall off, get a nose full of water and tell the kids you were just showing them how NOT to do it. Why do they giggle when that happens?
For those interested in the history of the area, Lake Ainsworth, which is one of the few lowland dune lakes in northern New South Wales, was named after the son of Thomas Ainsworth (James), who was one of the first white fellas to settle and take up land in the area near North Head at Ballina way back in 1847.
The Aboriginal Jali people are the traditional owners and there have been various surveys completed around the region suggesting that burial sites, camp sites, ceremonial grounds, massacre sites and fish traps have been identified.
While many of these sites have been disturbed and/or destroyed by sand mining and urban development, if you do stumble on any of them, you’re best leaving them alone and respecting the cultural significance.
For those that must venture out to have a gander at one of Australia’s more eye-opening, back-packer-enticing, alternate-culture-attracting towns, then Byron Bay is just a short drive away.
Look, see, make comment if you must, then get back to the seclusion of the beach to discuss the weird, wonderful and downright different people that make up the world we live in… then go for another 4x4, peal another prawn, sip a cold drink and smile contentedly in the knowledge that you’ve found a great little piece of paradise that sees most 4x4s unknowingly pass by.