Seven Mile Beach at Lennox Head is the only beach in the Ballina Shire that can be accessed by 4WDs (since the closure of South Ballina beach to 4WDs in 2021)

















Council’s Policy for 4WD Access on 7 Mile Beach sits within the broader Plan of Management for the Ballina Coastal Reserve, which is managed by Council on behalf of the NSW State Government.

Currently, 4WD users can purchase a 1-day pass, a 30-day pass, a 6-month pass or an annual pass. Permits are available from an automated kiosk located adjacent to the caravan park at Camp Drewe Road, or via an app.

The table below shows the permits currently available, their cost and the income they generate for Council (In 2021/2022)


1-day pass

30-day pass

6-month pass

Annual pass

Current Fee (2022/2023)





Permits issued 2021/2022





Percentage of total permits





Income generated 2021/2022*





Percentage of total revenue





Income of $114,011 was generated from the sale of permits during 2021/2011. Revenue of around $62,000 was generated in 2021/22 from fines issued associated with beach use, however the State Government retains about 1/3rd of this money. 

It is estimated that administration and compliance costs for the 2021/22 financial year were in the order of $50,000-$55,000. It is also estimated that Council spent approximately $30,000-$35,000 on works along Seven Mile Beach area during this period, including track repairs, dune repairs, rubbish collection, gate/ sign maintenance and repairs and weed control.

A surveillance camera is also in operation at the access point. The camera records number plate details of all vehicles that enter the beach access.

In 2021/2033 data showed that most users (87%) access the beach with a valid permit. Of those without permits (13%), 74% of the vehicles were registered in NSW; 18% registered in QLD, with 8% registered elsewhere.

Council Rangers routinely patrol the beach, subject to weather conditions. Rangers predominantly police the beach for inappropriate use, driving onto dunes etc.

I have long been of the opinion that we need to phase out recreational 4WDing on beaches. Here are some of the reasons...

Environmental Damage

Decades of research from Australia and around the world has highlighted the negative impacts of 4WDs on beach flora and fauna. The environmental damage caused by 4WDs is cumulative, exists regardless of whether you are a “responsible” driver and is not always visible to the naked eye.

A study conducted in Western Australia found that even low levels of off-road vehicle traffic was enough to cause measurable shifts in the diversity, density, and structure of invertebrate communities on sandy beaches.

Studies conducted on QLD beaches have found that 4WD activity was associated with significantly lower populations of the common ghost crab and negatively affected the body condition and burrowing performance of Pipis.

7 Mile Beach is also a nesting site for green and loggerhead turtles, whose hatchlings emerge from between January and April. Vehicles driving over turtle nests can compact the sand above, crushing eggs or making it hard for hatchlings to get out. 

Vehicles driving along beaches can have a major impact on breeding success of nesting shorebirds. Disturbance from vehicles may cause shorebirds to fly off nests, eggs and chicks, or change activities.

User conflict

Seven Mile Beach north of the surf club is popular for a variety of uses, including walking, cycling, dog exercise, horse riding, surfing, kite surfing, and sunbathing. In peak usage periods, high user numbers can lead to conflicts among these users. 

I am constantly being sent accounts of dangerous interactions between 4WDs and people and animals. Recently a man's dog was run over by a 4WD with the driver failing to stop and assist.

Other risks

I am also concerned that an increasing number of families are preferring to drive onto the beach for picnics and are swimming in a stretch of beach that is unpatrolled and difficult to access by lifesavers.

Recent Events

Council reviewed it's 4WD Access on 7 Mile Beach Policy in December 2022 and made the following resolution:


However, after an extended period of public exhibition, in which 268 submissions were received, it was evident that the resolution was not in keeping with community expectations.

52% of submissions called for a full closure of the beach to 4WDs, while about 75% called for stronger restrictions than were proposed in the revised Policy.

We also learned that permit sales had almost doubled during 22/23.

Considering this, at its November 2023 meeting, Councillors made a new resolution, proposing much stricter access to the beach, as well as a commitment to close it entirely by 2028.

Next Steps

The Seven Mile Beach 4WD Access Policy was already on public exhibition in late 2022/early 2023, but because Council's recent resolution differs so greatly from the previous one, it's only fair that it is publicly exhibited a second time. It will be on Council's Your Say Ballina website in December 2023 for a period of 28 days.

Council is expected to make a final decision on this matter in the March 2024 Ordinary Meeting.