Ballina and the Prawn



Eastern King Prawn, also known as the Ocean King Prawn, is almost transparent with a blue tail tinged with red around the edges and a long rostrum or spike between the eyes. This rostrum or spike may help protect the prawn from predators, or at least cause some discomfort to those animals that eat them.

They are found in the intertidal estuaries and oceans of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.  The Eastern King Prawn is the most important commercial prawn species in New South Wales.

Unlike crabs and lobsters, female prawns do not carry their eggs under their tail, but release them directly into the sea. The eggs hatch into a free-swimming larvae called nauplii and migrate from coastal waters into estuaries. Within the estuary, they moult a number of times and reach adult size after 9-12 months. As adults, they migrate back offshore to spawn and it is during these migrations that larger prawns are often caught. Once mature, adult prawns will not return to estuaries.  Eastern King Prawns have been recorded as moving northwards over distances of up to 1333km!

Prawns, like most other crustaceans, are able to change colour, depending upon growth, background colouration and time of day. This colouration is due to the colour of the pigment in minute, special cells called chromatophores found in the prawn’s skin beneath the external shell.

There are three commercial fisheries that target prawns; namely the ocean trawl, estuary prawn trawl and estuary general fisheries.  Total prawn catch in any one season depends upon a complicated interaction of many factors including the success of spawning, the effects of environmental fluctuations, the success of larval stages in finding suitable habitat and, the effects of predators and diseases on all stages of prawn’s life cycle.


The Richmond River and its estuaries are abound with marine wildlife and for many years has remained the fisherman's paradise in harmony with water sports and numerous boating activities.

The Richmond River was discovered in 1828 by Captain Henry Rous, in the HMS "Rainbow", and was named after the fifth Duke of Richmond. Early settlers travelled upstream to Broadwater, but the cedar-getters first came across the country from the Clarence River. As word spread, another party of cedar-getters and their families arrived in 1842 on the "Sally", and a camp was established at what is now East Ballina, because of the high ground and good water supply. 

The settlement was first known as Deptford, but as it grew an Aboriginal word 'bullenah' which meant 'place where oysters are plentiful' became the town's name. With a town in Ireland named also named Ballina, the similar pronunciation meant that the indigenous link was all but lost through the change in spelling. However, an appreciation of the area's seafood certainly remains, with strong fishing industries and seafood featuring strongly in the regional cuisine.

The Ballina Prawn Festival is a quintessential Aussie event and a wonderful celebration of the laid backed Ballina lifestyle.

If you would like to stay up to date with Prawn Festival activities, check out our new website, plus jump on and LIKE our Ballina Prawn Festival Facebook page.

Don’t miss all the family fun at the Ballina Prawn Festival on Saturday 11th November 2017!  Invite friends and family to come and stay for the weekend! We’ll see you there!

Cristy Houghton