Drama Queen Dreaming … Ballina, New South Wales

Last Updated on January 21, 2016 by Red Nomad OZ

Surf's UP at Sharpes Beach, Ballina, New South Wales
Surf’s UP at Sharpes Beach, Ballina, New South Wales

Being a drama queen is a good thing, right??

So the naturally monochromatic landscape of a stormy day on Australia’s east coast where an offshore low made mountains of the waves and piled the sky high with clouds thrilled my little DQ soul to bits.

Sharpes Beach Surfers catch the waves, Ballina, New South Wales
Sharpes Beach Surfers catch the waves, Ballina, New South Wales

And has given me a rare opportunity to silence those who, based on my photos, ask if it ever actually rains anywhere downunder!!

In the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales where accessories like mobile phones, handbags and i-pads are replaced by fishing rods, guitars and surfboards, a stormy day is no reason to stay indoors.

Surfing Sharpes Beach, Ballina, New South Wales
Surfing Sharpes Beach, Ballina, New South Wales

In fact, it’s apparently perfect surfing weather!!

And so, as the sparkling blues and greens and the light that catches the waves (and the odd whale) on a fine day are replaced by the greys of sky, mist and sea; the whites of surf, cloud and spray, and the blacks of rock, wetsuit and breakwall in and endless variations of the monochrome palette, I ask you this.

Which is better?

Looking north from Skennars Head on a clear day, Ballina, New South Wales
Looking north from Skennars Head on a clear day, Ballina, New South Wales

Of course, to a true DQ, the answer is obvious …

The thrilling compulsion of watching surfers pick their way through the rocks as waves crash all around, then paddle out through a monochromatic monster sea satisfies my DQ soul far more than seeing the same scene in blue and green.  No matter how perfect!

Then, just down the coast from where the Sharpes Beach surfers rocked the waves, the scene at the South Ballina Breakwall, where the mighty Richmond River enters the sea stirred my DQ photographic heart with a mixture of elation – and apprehension.

South Ballina Breakwall, Northern New South Wales
South Ballina Breakwall, Northern New South Wales

But being a drama queen isn’t just about watching from the sidelines.  It means embracing whatever the dramatics bring – even if it’s an unwelcome bout of stormy weather.  And that’s a good thing, right??


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  1. I love Ballina and in particular Skennars Beach. We have camped down this way at Broken Head and Lennox Heads many a time. I’m with you I love the drama of grey skies and a good old thunderstorm. We can’t have blue sky days all the time! Lovely shots.

    1. Thank you Kathy! It IS a lovely part of Australia – and it’s lucky to be so beautiful in both good and bad weather! Although we DID stay there once for a couple of weeks where it NEVER stopped raining! That was a bit hard to take, haha!

  2. Hi Red, followed your Tweet to the site which features you, then clicked your link and walla, here I am! A walk about to find you but found you none the less.

    I love that last shot, it shows the power of the ocean, dramatic shot… well done!


  3. Hi RNoz, I came here via Google+ and then Writing News. Great photos, great landscape, and my beach preference is for wind/rain/wild weather and it has always been a mystery to me why thousands jam onto the big city beaches on a stinking hot day. It gets you something, but not cool beyond actual immersion.
    Re you Koolymurtie banner: I do believe Coochiemudlo Island is as lyrical (My last employment was at Sennalink and one day I took a call from there, or I would never have heard of it). Happy Trails to you

    Dear FigMince, I shudder at what you call a ‘mild medical condition’ and I do hope you are OK now.

  4. @Filip – Sorry, I’ve just retrieved your comment from spam! I’m VERY happy to watch rough sea from the beach … not so keen on sailing in it!!!

  5. @Betty – HAha, everything about this storm was refreshing … except for being cooped up in a leaking camper trailer!!!! Ah well, take the good with the bad, huh?!
    @Iris – Thanx! Hope you don’t hit weather like this in Perth!!
    @Vicki – Aha! A fellow Drama Queen!!! I just KNEW there were more of us out there!!
    @Gemma – I know I’m a photographic amateur because I can still look through the viewfinder and get a shiver down my spine at what I see!
    @Ciara – There is NO WAY I’d be getting into the water with a storm like that on the way!! If that means I’m a coward, then I’m a Loud & Proud coward!!
    @Manju – Thank you! I look forward to seeing you here again & will be visiting you soon!!
    @George – Thank you again for your kind words, my friend! Have a great week ahead!

  6. @River – You’re a braver woman than I!! But I’m working on it … just substitute ‘bakery’ for ‘hot chocolate’ and I’m anyones!!!
    @diane – Of course I love the colour too (refer almost any other pix on my blog if proof is required), but there’s something edgy about monochrome that adds a perspective not often seen in colour! Thanx for the invite – will see where we end up!
    @Eileeninmd – The surfer thing is a whole different subculture!! I’ll not soon forget the look of absolute glee on 3 surfers who came to check out the waves as we were leaving! You’d have thought it was Xmas morning!!
    @LONDONLULU – Hahaha, but now the ~200mm of rain has passed the landscape is full of colour again!! I guess that’s a win-win!!
    @SFlaGuy – Oh, so THAT’S what the headlands are for!!!! If a storm surge came up THAT high it’d be the end of the world!!! Hang on – what’s that high up in the tree?!?!?!
    @TMWH – The drama just added a little frisson of excitement that I HOPE slid into the pix!! But I hope my little frisson of fear stayed right out …

  7. Your color photos from Ballina are gorgeous as usual, but I must admit that your photos of the surfers at Sharpes Beach are very dramatic. Well done on both scores.

  8. I’m with you RED, I love the drama of stormy weather and the intense colours that a moody sky can bring. I’m still yet to go one step further and get in the water though. Learning to surf full stop is on my list of things to do in life.

  9. I could have written the previous comment so easily! So adore winter beach worlds without the crowds! Love your thundering waves! And there is something quite mystical about the almost monochrome mist drenched landscape!

  10. These are beautiful images Red!

    I love the beach in winter. Something so very invigorating about all those turbulent energies.
    The best time to go for long walks in the damp sand.

  11. what a beautiful scenery! those surfers, those waves, wow!

    thanks so much for your lovely photos. i feel refreshed, just looking at them.

    hope you have a great remainder of your week.

    big hugs!

  12. Lovely photos, Red, even without the drama! Crashing waves are spectacular, in any setting.

  13. Those surfers! Those waves! Those skies! That huge splash! What more could one want, eh? You caught wonderful moments again – how I wish I could be there.

  14. Cool shots of the surfers catching the waves! I have seen the surfers on our coast here in bad weather, they really do not mind. Beautiful scenery and lovely photos,Red! Have a happy week ahead!

  15. Glad you found some positives in this sh**ty weather. My positive is that I don’t have to stand for an hour every second day watering the dry garden. Instead I have to be careful not to skid on the moss and fungi growing everywhere. The scenes surely are dramatic but I am a colour queen. We had rain in FNQ but at least it made the leaves glisten. Ballina is a beautiful spot. Trouble is too many other people have discovered that. If you are ever in Brisbane come and visit us.

  16. More gratuitous advice, further to my comment above: Always read the post properly before you rabbit on about low pressure systems that Red has already mentioned. Doh!

  17. Here’s the why, Red: First, anyone who doesn’t surf in the rain because they might get wet has some serious logic issues. And the rain is usually caused by a low pressure system which, when it’s pushing a high pressure system out of its way, causes a stronger swell and more powerful waves. End of lesson.

    I lived for many years in Byron Shire, just north of where you shot this. When I was 54, I came out of the water one day, not knowing that a minor health issue would mean I couldn’t surf for the next couple of months, or that subsequent events would see me move far enough away to mean that I never got on my board again. My moral: Enjoy whatever you’re doing at any given moment, because you can’t ever know if it may be the last time you get to do it.

  18. Great post..
    No matter what the weather being by the ocean is wonderful.
    I spent all my school holidays at Lennox Head so love this part of the world.

  19. I like that third photo and the breakwall!
    Stormy weather is much appreciated in my family, all of us are fans of howling winds and thunder’n’lightning storms with pounding rains. If I can see all that AND watch waves crashing to shore on rocks at the same time, I’m in heaven. Follow up with a hot chocolate and bliss is achieved.

  20. @Saucy Kod – OOPS! Sorry, thought I’d left someone out … I have NEVER tried surfing, but it’s poor cousin ‘boogie boarding’ is a fine substitute! Skittering across the waves suits me just fine … I have to work on not letting the rain slow me down!!! Have a great weekend!

  21. @Fun60 – As a mere observer, I am full of admiration for the surfing community … and I have what I think is a healthy respect for the sea!
    @FigMince – Haha, but I was more amazed by the thought of surfing in those massive waves than by the ‘wet’ thing!!! Your moral is wise and sound – and anything you can add to my rather basic explanation for the monster surf is welcome! I’m a loud & proud amateur when it comes to the geographic, geologic and meteorological arts!!
    @Andrew – And a few bronzed Aussie surfer boys thrown in to the mix, huh?!?! At risk of sounding trite, it’s the bad weather that makes the good weather what it is!!!

  22. @TFG – I think it’s just opportunistic compulsion!! The best waves are in weather like this (refer FigMince’s comment above)! Of course to ME they’re CRAZY!!!!!
    @Manzanita – The drama queen thing is a constant struggle between elation and cowardice for me!!! Maybe I’m not a REAL drama queen …
    @Jo – Agreed! And how lucky are you to have discovered Lennox Head at such a young age??!! I first came here about 15 years ago …
    @Dianne – Thanx! They’re a real departure from my normal strong, bold colours!! A few readers have asked, over the years, whether it ever rains in Australia because they’ve only seen my fair weather pix!
    @Rose – The ‘serene’ pic also has its place!! On a clear day, NOTHING beats this part of OZ!! In my opinion, anyway … I SO wish the Ballina break wall beacon had been a lighthouse … but can’t have everything, huh?!?!

  23. I could never live in a place where the weather is consistent. A calm sea, fine sand and the sun shining from a bright blue sky are great, but so are threatening grey clouds, big waves crashing on rocks and a biting cold wind.

  24. I tried surfing a long time ago an really liked it – here at home we just do not have the waves, but gimmee a wee wave and I will be happy to skitter across the wave and then the beach. These shots are super Red and rain or no rain, its always time to get oot n aboot, Eh!

  25. G’day Red, being a member of the DQ set myself (sometimes anyhow, one must be discerning…mustn’t one? mmm) Anyhow, I love those wild and brilliant pics you captured. I saw a canvas in a homewares store very recently and the ocean and rocks looked so similar to your photos except there was a mighty lighthouse in it as well.
    Years ago I spent some time at Ballina and our view the whole time was your (gorgeous) ‘serene’ pic.
    Keep ’em comin’

  26. Surfers just love to catch a wave …. no matter what the weather. Actually I love your soft grey misty seascapes Red … with a touch of the ethereal.

  27. The sea looks very rough but that is fascinating, also when you are on a ship.


  28. It looks nutty with all the rain and waves but that is what surfers do. For 25 years I lived at the edge of the ocean and during every storm, even hurricanes, watched the surfers through the mist. Sometimes it’s good to be a drama queen.

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