Ballina Coast & Hinterland

Legendary People

Simon Baker – Actor & Director

Simon Baker is best known in the lead role of “The Mentalist” but was known affectionately as “Smiley” by the locals when he was a student at Ballina High School as a teenager and his smile is certainly recognised by his many adoring fans.

Life on the Ballina Coast & Hinterland was a laid back affair where he enjoyed his school years and spent time surfing competitively and playing water polo and his love and fond memories of the area remain.   He is a highly successful Actor and Director with his career starting out when he was known as Simon Denny in the late 80s and in the 90s starred in E-Street, Home & Away and Heartbreak High.

Jacqueline Freney – Paralympic swimmer

Jacqueline Freney is an Australian Paralympic swimmer. At the 2012 London Games, she broke Siobhan Paton’s Australian record of six gold medals at a single Games by winning her seventh gold medal in the Women’s 400 m Freestyle. She finished the Games with eight gold medals, more than any other participant in the Games.

Jacqueline lives in Ballina and is coached by her father.  In February 2012, Freney was named Ballina Shire’s Sportsperson of the Year.

Olivia Newton John – Singer & Actor

Olivia Newton John, best known as the clean-cut Sandy in the musical film Grease, launched Gaia Retreat & Spa in 2005, located just 20 minutes from Ballina.

It is one of her big passions in life. In Greek mythology, Gaia is the primal goddess of the earth, and her property is all about surrendering yourself to its beauty and healing cultures. She is the giver of dreams and a nourisher of plants and young children.

In 1994, while staying at her farm near Ballina, she recorded her Gaia CD as a reminder of her journey, appreciation and gratitude for life.