Ballina’s last resort

Well here I am at Ballina Beach Resort, the venue for Ausweb08 – one of the world’s oldest internet based conferences. It doesn’t have the cachet of the newcomers like Web Directions, but it still attracts some good thinkers and some interesting topics.

One of the features of this conference, however, is that it is always in rather nice beachside locations. This gives the poor old academic a welcome break from the humdrum of campus, but I suspect it has in some ways cheapened the message being delivered.

Anyway, this one, as I said, is in Ballina. The location is just a few minutes walk from the beach, the venue is comfortable, but – and this is a big but – why do conference venues think it’s OK to serve such god awful food? I’ve had bad, but this is utterly woeful. The breakfast this morning nominally cost $20. What I got was a choice of: toast with peanut butter and jam; some basic cereals; a bain-marie which was mostly empty but occasionally topped up with some greasy bacon, and rubbery scrambled eggs; no decent fruit; no pastries. Totally pathetic, when you consider that just up the road in Byron Bay, there are creators of some of the best coffee, jams, spreads, muesli, and organic foods in Australia.

The empty bain-marie at Ballina Beach Resort
The most pathetic breakfast ever!

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Before the conference program kicked in and I was able to choose my own food, we found some absolute gems. Thai by Night, on the main stret in Ballina served up the best Thai food I’ve had since I left Chiang Mai. Then we had breakfast at The Harvest Cafe in Newrybar just a few k. north of Ballina. Sensational… utterly beautiful. Oh, and after that we went on the the Byron Bay Sunday market – more great food and snacks. While I’m stuck in the conference my travel partners have sampled the excellent food at the local RSL. So there’s plenty of choice if you look around – just don’t even think about eating at Ballina Beach Resort… they don’t deserve a second chance.