Burns Point Ferry

The Burns Point Ferry is a vehicular cable ferry that crosses the Richmond River between Burns Point Ferry Road, West Ballina and River Drive, Keith Hall. It provides access from West Ballina to South Ballina, Keith Hall, Empire Vale, Patchs Beach and East Wardell. The ferry is maintained and operated by Ballina Shire Council.

Operating hours

The ferry service operates daily between 5.30am and 12.30am except on Christmas Day.

  • First daily crossing leaves the South Ballina ramp at 5.30 am
  • Last daily crossing leaves the South Ballina ramp at 12.20 am

The crossing is 300m in length and takes approximately four minutes. Please allow 15 minutes waiting time.

When the ferry is not in operation, access to South Ballina and East Wardell is via the M1 Pacific Motorway at the Coolgardie Road interchange.

The ferry does not operate on Christmas Day.

Charges apply to use the ferry. Payment by card only. Cash is not accepted on the ferry.

2023/24 Ticket Charges One-way Annual Quarterly Weekly Book of 25
Motor Cycle $3 $170 $50.50 $30  
Car / Vehicle under 3 tonne capacity $7 $354 $96.50 $62.50  
Car + Caravan*  $16        
Car + Box or Boat Trailer* $14        
Box or Boat Trailer $7 $62.50      
Vehicle 3 to 10 tonne capacity $15.50       $387.50
Vehicle over 10 tonne capacity $17.50       $437.50
Vehicle over 10 tonne capacity + trailer $24.50 **$1,654     $612.50
Agricultural Tractor    $165 $50    

*If a valid season ticket is displayed in towing vehicle a box or boat trailer one-way ticket is $7 and caravan one-way ticket is $9. 

** Vehicle over 10 tonne + trailer annual ticket available to purchase for Ballina Shire residents only

Pensioner discount of 50% applies to season tickets (annual and quarterly).  An eligible concession card together with vehicle registration papers in the same name as the cardholder must be presented at Council’s Customer Service Centre. See FAQ's section for further information.


Cash is not accepted on the ferry.

Single and weekly tickets can be purchased with EFTPOS from the operator on the ferry.

Weekly tickets are for seven consecutive days from date of purchase.

Season tickets (annual, quarterly) and books of 25 single tickets can be purchased from Council’s Customer Service Centre at 40 Cherry Street, Ballina.

Quarterly tickets are available for the periods:

  • 1 July – 30 Sept 2023
  • 1 Oct – 31 Dec 2023
  • 1 Jan – 31 March 2024
  • 1 April – 30 June 2024

Please note your vehicle registration number to purchase weekly and season tickets as it is recorded on the ticket you are issued.

Charges are waived for the following organisations:

  • NSW Ambulance                                                       
  • NSW Fire and Rescue                                   
  • Police 
  • Surf Life Saving NSW
  • State Emergency Services
  • Ballina Marine Discovery Centre
  • Australian Seabird Rescue

Burns Point Ferry charges are subject to change from 1 July each year. Visit ballina.nsw.gov.au/fees-and-charges for more information. Charges are set by Ballina Shire Council and are exhibited for community feedback in May-June of each year. The income from ferry charges is spent directly on operating and maintaining the ferry.

The ferry is in operation 19 hours each day and requires regular inspection and maintenance to ensure it continues to function safely and reliably.

Scheduled monthly and annual maintenance closures are advertised in Council’s community announcements.

Weekly maintenance service

The ferry is serviced each Wednesday morning to replace consumables and wear parts like cable guide rollers. This work is usually carried out while the ferry is operating but there may be unplanned and very short periods of delays.

Monthly maintenance closure

The ferry service does not operate between 9am and 1pm on the following dates. This time is used to carry out inspections, complete regular maintenance actions and minor repair works.

CLOSED 9am - 1pm
Tuesday 16 January 2024
Tuesday 13 February 2024
Tuesday 12 March 2024
Tuesday 9 April 2024
Tuesday 14 May 2024
Tuesday 11 June 2024

Annual maintenance closure

The ferry is closed for 2-4 weeks every year and taken to a local slipway. This is required to carry out regulatory inspections, undertake major mechanical and structural repairs, installing mandatory upgrades, and to sandblast and repaint the vessel.

Annual maintenance: Maintenance for 2023 was completed during late August and early September.

Information on the annual closure and return to service dates are displayed on portable illuminated message signs located on Burns Point Ferry Road and River Drive. 

Unscheduled closures

The ferry can be closed at short notice for:

  • ferry breakdowns
  • unscheduled work that cannot be delayed until the next monthly maintenance closure
  • poor weather or river conditions that make the ferry crossing unsafe
  • Police and officers from TNSW Maritime and Australian Maritime Safety Authority directing the ferry stop operating

The ferry does not operate on Christmas Day.

Closures are announced on council’s Facebook page and Live Traffic NSW


  • Follow any direction given by the ferry staff
  • Turn off your headlights when stopped at the boom gate and waiting for the ferry
  • Be aware of low ground clearances when entering and leaving the ferry. Drive slowly
  • Be aware of pedestrians and cyclists disembarking or waiting to embark.
  • Pedestrians and cyclists should wait out of the path of motor vehicles before entering or leaving the ferry
  • Only enter onto the ferry when all disembarking vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians have passed the boom gate, and the traffic signals on the ferry are green
  • Follow lane stacking directions from the operator
  • Apply your handbrake when stopped on the ferry deck
  • Remain in your vehicle unless paying the ferry charge at the ferry cabin
  • Pay the charge(s) to the operator in the cabin if you don’t have a valid season ticket displayed on your vehicle
  • Pedestrians and cyclists should wait near the cabin stairs during the crossing. Please note there is no covered waiting area or seating
  • Only disembark once the ferry has stopped and the ferry ramp is completely down, the boom gate has been raised, and the traffic signals on the ferry are green
  • Smoking is not permitted on the ferry

The ferry is a vehicular cable ferry with a safe load limit of 72 tonnes. The loading deck is 24m long and 7m wide.  The ferry is capable of carrying up to 12 cars including 70 passengers on each crossing.

Operating load limits apply when heavy vehicles use the ferry. You may be directed by the operator to wait for the next trip even when there is space on the ferry. This will affect your waiting time.

Vehicles with trailers and caravans must take care when loading and unloading due to the angle of the ramps and very low clearances, particularly at low tides. The operator is unable to assist vehicles that get stuck on the ramps and your roadside assist provider should be called if this occurs.

Emergency service vehicles are always prioritised which may affect your waiting and journey times.

The ferry is connected to each bank by two cables that it uses to pull itself across the river channel. It is significantly restricted in its ability to manouvre and stop suddenly.

Under the NSW marine safety regulations, all vessels must:

  • Slow down to 4 knots or less, within 100m of the ferry cables
  • Pass at a safe distance behind the ferry, preferably when it has reached shore, to avoid getting tangled
  • Turn their power off when crossing the cables, except where it’s unsafe to do so

Can I get a discount on ferry tickets?

Yes, if you hold one of the following cards you are entitled to a 50% discount on season ticket (annual, quarterly) prices:

  • Pensioner Concession Card                                     
  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
  • Ex-Carer Allowance (Child) Health Care Card         
  • Foster Child Health Care Card
  • Department of Veteran Affairs Health Card              
  • Low Income Health Care Card

The discount can only be obtained by presenting an eligible card together with vehicle registration papers in the same name as the card holder at the time of payment at Council’s Customer Service Centre.

Can I use my ticket in another vehicle?

No. Season and weekly tickets are issued with a vehicle registration number recorded on it and are not transferrable. These tickets are only valid when displayed in a vehicle where vehicle registration number matches the number recorded on the ticket.

If you sell your vehicle and would like to use the season ticket in another vehicle, you will need to remove the ticket and bring it into Council’s Customer Service Centre to arrange a replacement.

What if I need a new sticker?

If you have damaged your season ticket or the details need to be amended, you will need to remove the ticket and bring it into Council’s Customer Service Centre to arrange a replacement.

My business vehicles use the ferry frequently, can I get an account?

Yes. If your business or company has vehicles using the ferry a number of times per week, it may be more efficient to open an account with monthly invoicing. To apply for an account, please contact Council’s customer service centre on 1300 864 444.


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Postal Address

The General Manager
Ballina Shire Council
PO Box 450
Ballina NSW 2478

View more contacts

40 Cherry Street
Ballina NSW 2478


Opening Hours

8:15am - 4:30pm

Monday to Friday