Swimming Lessons in and around Ballina

I have tried three different places for swimming lessons in the area, and BallinaGirl has attended all three. For her, I found they differed and had positives depending on age, her swimming ability, and her developing personality.

Lennox Aquatic Centre ( 128 Newrybar Swamp Road, Lennox. Head )
They have a great set up for babies and young toddlers. BallinaGirl attended when she was a baby, and again when she was a toddler. It was really good when she was a baby, but we couldn’t afford to continue the lessons. They have a small pool that is extra warm so they stay comfortable the whole lesson and don’t get a rude shock with the water temperature (which can affect their relationship with the water). They do a similar pattern each week for learning, with lots of songs and “actions”. I would highly recommend this one for parents with babies. From their website, they start from 3 months old.

Ballina Swim N Gym (behind the cinema at Ballina Fair)
This is Ballina’s only indoor pools. We tried this when BallinaGirl was younger, but found the water to be too cold for our liking (although was fine for my aqua classes I did during pregnancy). We went back again for an Intensive Swim Program for the kids over the school holidays to help catch them up, and they were pretty cold by the end still. BallinaBoy particularly complained of the cold, although the air within the pool are was quite warm. It was quite good that the pool was a bit deeper than what they usually learn in, so were able to practice swimming without the ability to stand easily in the water, which was a plus, although BallinaGirl spent most of the lesson swimming around the platform in the water than actually paying attention to what was going on. These classes seemed to be the cheapest of all.

Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre ( 50 Oliver Avenue, Goonellabah )
Attending the swimming lessons at this pool were the best solution for us. Although I preferred the baby swimming lessons at Lennox, BallinaGirl loved the swimming lessons here (started about 2.5years old). They have games, she loved her teacher, and after a few lessons, was quite happy to go off with the teacher without us being in the class also. It also helps that the pools are a lot of fun to play at afterwards, with a dedicated toddler pool and slide, as well as the main pool having a slope to walk in to (similar to a beach) with access to the pool toys they use during their lesson to practice with in the shallows. She has wanted to stay there all day, she loves it so much there, we’ve had 3 of her birthdays there!
The travel time does make it a bit of a drawback, so I try to arrange for anything that might have to happen over that way to coincide with the swimming lessons.
As for BallinaBoy, he is still a bit on the fence with the lessons here, I think in part because of the timing of the lessons we had, as well as him not being confident in the water, nor away from me. I am contemplating trying him in the Lennox ones this semester instead, or as well as.
GSAC has also won awards for their swim school, swimsations, at a National level, which is pretty impressive.

Contact details for the pools are as follows:
Ballina Swim N Gym – (02) 6686 8299
Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre – (02) 6625 5370
Lennox Aquatic Centre – (02) 66 878 800 (or Tricia who runs the lessons on 0404156195)

Update: I have had a few friends attend and/or enrolled and waiting to attend swimming lessons in Bangalow. The pool looks like it has an amazing outlook, looking out over the Byron hinterland (a friend posted a photo of her child there which made me want to know more!) and is run as a private business. For more information here is their website and you can contact them on (02) 6687 2911. They have water babies classes through to stroke correction classes for older children. They also offer swim intensive programmes during the school holidays.

Australian Breastfeeding Association meets in Ballina!

Yay! Almost 4 years after wishing for a group to be in (or at least closer to) Ballina, it has arrived!!

The first meeting in Ballina was a huge success, with over dozen people in attendance – I guess I wasn’t the only one who had been hoping for this to start. I think it will be a great asset to the Ballina community.
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The Australian Breastfeeding Association is one of the leading sources of breastfeeding information and support, and a great way to meet other parents, particularly as you fumble your way through parenting young children (and breastfeeding!).

“The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) is an Australian organisation of people interested in the promotion and protection of breastfeeding. Amongst these are breastfeeding women and their partners and health professionals such as doctors, lactation consultants and midwives.

ABA was founded in Melbourne, Victoria in 1964 as the Nursing Mothers’ Association, with the aim of giving mother-to-mother support to breastfeeding women. It is Australia’s leading source of breastfeeding information and support” Wikipedia

The meeting was hosted by two ABA counsellors, Jan and Jeannee, both traveling from out of town to help the group get started. They are both a wealth of knowledge, and very helpful – Jan was even around when the Nursing Mothers first started up in the Northern Rivers.

Meetings occur on the last Tuesday of the month at the CWA Hall in River Street, next to the RSL in Ballina, starting at 1pm. Coin donations are appreciated, to put towards the use of the hall.

There are also meetings in Lismore and Mullumbimby. Lismore is on the second Friday of the month, starting at 10am, at the ground floor meeting room of the Lismore Library. Mullumbimby have their meetings on the first Wednesday of the month starting at 9:15am, in the Mullumbimby Neighbourhood Centre, Dalley Street.

Breastfeeding BallinaBoy

Breastfeeding BallinaBoy at the start of the meeting, while everyone chatted.

Fawcett Park

Fawcett Park (aka Pelican Park) is in the main section of town, along the river on Fawcett Street (which runs parallel with River Street) with access from Cherry Street also. It is across the road from Cafe Twenty9, Baskin & Robins and the CookieMan.

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Fawcett Park, is only partly fenced (along the riverside) and has tables, barbecues, seating and lots of grass. The playground is designed as a castle, with two slides a drawbridge, “stage” and a jail (or “shop” in some play experiences) and a crocodile (which recently lost its tail).

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This is one of my favourite playgrounds for toddlers. The steps are great for climbing, wide enough for a crawling baby to rest of each step, or sit to look around. It has a small slide for them to happily climb up to and navigate themselves too, and other little obstacles for them to navigate without it being “too challenging”. As toddlers grow, they can climb up to the bigger slide and play in the high tower of the castle. But one of the favourite things in the playground for both my kids has been the crocodile, which they climb on, scale, sit on and sing “cheeky monkeys” to.

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And sometimes the water fountain is more entertaining than the playground.

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It can be a lovely place to watch the sun set, look for dolphins, turtles or fish, or watch the boats zoom past. But beware, there is no fence along the riverside walkway, and it can be a scary looking drop!

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And after a big play, we can go grab something to eat or drink across the road.

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Party at Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre

Recently we had a party for Ballina Girl’s birthday at GSAC. We hired the slide for an hour, which ended up being a flop for the rest of the invitees, but Ballina Girl and the parents loved it! We cooked a barbecue on the outside barbecues. The sun was shining and in certain areas, out of the wind, you could’ve sworn it wasn’t winter as you soaked up the sun on the grass.
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It cost us $50 to hire the slide for an hour, and we paid for all our guests entry fee (optional). They also offer packages where they can do the catering and have staff members designated to your party.
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Alstonville School of Music

Veronica Lovejoy, recently started running the Alstonville branch of the International School of Music. She has classes for 2 year olds, called Jitterbugs, 3 year olds, called BeeBoppers and then has a Piano group class for over 4s.

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BallinaGirl started in Jitterbugs in the first semester, and moved up to BeeBoppers in the second semester. Each week they have a theme for the class, with each class also having the same routine each week. Jitterbugs is all about dancing and finding the rhythm in the music, while BeeBoppers has more focus on learning about musical notes, and singing.

Contact “Miss Vee” on
Find Alstonville International School of Music on Facebook

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Ballina Boat Hire

While looking for things to do while we have visitors, we often book a BBQ boat from Ballina Boat Hire in River Street, Ballina.
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The idea is that you can cook what you catch, but our fishing talent means we have a barbecue while attempting to catch something, or as BallinaGirl prefers, feed the fish. This works for me, as I don’t like catching fish, but love eating food.
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Sometimes, we end up organising a cold and or rainy day, which isn’t too bad. You have cover, but also, you can drive the boat to find shelter from the conditions.
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There is a sticker in the boat with the legal size limits, we rarely catch anything of limit, but every catch is exciting for BallinaGirl
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Even if you don’t catch a fish, or like fishing. It is a good day out and way to see Ballina from a different view. Putt around and find your little patch of serenity in the river, cook up a feed, sit back and relax, chat and enjoy the sea (river?) air.

… It even has a toilet.

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FFSC Mums & Bubs CrossFit

I started at CrossFit last year, when BallinaBoy was approximately 12 weeks, I think. The first session is free, and BallinaGirl seemed to love playing with the kids there, and I was able to tend to my kids when and if they needed, but there was also a lovely group of welcoming mums with warm hearts ready to try their best to comfort your children, while you were working out.

The session is (usually) broken up in to two groups, one group works out and the other supervises and cares for the kids, and then they swap. Seems logical. No over crowded under spaced crèche here. There is a kids area set up with toys, a TV, and a wooden kitchen. There is also the whole other half of the centre that they set up (with an obstacle course) for the bigger kids to be able to jump, climb and throw giant balls (in the “cage” or as some of the kids call it, the “trampoline”) at each other – what more could a preschooler or toddler want?
the cage

The thing that made me decide to go back? The amount of pain I was in following – I could feel muscles I didn’t even know I had! That was a serious work out.
What made me continue to go back? The support, the individual attention and modifications (apparently I am, or was, really bad at squatting!), and the fact that I could see my babies, and tend to their needs if I needed to. If BallinaBoy needed boob, then I’d go in the second session. If I needed to calm my kids, I could throw them in a carrier and continue on (yep! I have done it with my toddler on, in testing week!), and if I had to exit half way through session one, I could continue in the next session.
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What makes me love it? It’s not only about a workout, it can be so much more. The people are welcoming, inclusive and most of all supportive. They organise cooked meals for mums when they are struggling, they organise social events, have a morning tea so you can chat and debrief, chat, and eat some yummy food, or chat more if you want. It is not just a workout it’s a community, a village, support and encouragement.
photo from Facebook

I highly recommend coming down and trying it out, even if your kids are in school, you have one on the way, or don’t have kids but want to be around some warm hearted ladies (and sometimes men) and get your arse kicked (fitness and sweatiness wise).

Mums & Bubs sessions are on Tuesday and Thursday at 9:30am, and Wednesday 10:30am. Check out their website, or Facebook page, for more details.

On a side note: the Wednesday classes are quite small at the moment, as they are a new addition. If you are unsure about whether CrossFit works for you, are not good with big groups, or just feel you may be embarrassed by your fitness level (or lack there of) – Wednesday is a great session to get to, to test the water. But, you can also just come down and watch and hang out. When my kids have been having off days, out of routine, etc, I have just gone down to let them play with the other kids and ease back in to the routine (and catch up with everyone).
I hope to see you there! I’ll be the unco, sweaty, puffing, red in the face one – most likely with a kid strapped to me, haha.