Originally Balnarring was on the Ballanrong (an early rendering of Balnarring) or Coolort pastoral run. A pioneering settler, Paul Van Suylen, acquired a large pastoral holding and in about 1860 built the historic Warrawee homestead that still stands today one kilometre west of Balnarring. In 1863 local landholders laid out the Emu Plains racecourse, north-east of Balnarring, which is still in operation. The formation of the Balnarring village at the cross roads came with the opening of the post office (1866), a school (1871) and a church (1881). The Van Suylens also had a general store at Warrawee, and it was the Junction General Store, c1900, that confirmed the future position of Balnarring village. In 1921 a railway line through Balnarring to Red Hill placed the station near the junction.
On the coast Balnarring Beach, also known as Tulum Beach, lies at the mouth of Merricks Creek and overlooks Phillip Island. The shallow creek forms a narrow peninsula of land which is traversed by walking paths and footbridges. The beach features sweeping crescents of coastline, a yacht club, and a foreshore reserve which offers safe swimming along sandy stretches of the coast. Camping is also available. Racehorses are trained on the beach early in the morning six days a week. Balnarring Beach holds the award for the "Cleanest Beach in Victoria" from the Keep Australia Beautiful committee. One of the most scenic parts of Balnarring Beach is around Cliff Road which is situated on a bushy headland. A walking track winds its way down the cliff face to the sandy beach below, offering spectacular views along the coast. A selection of wineries are located in the rural inland areas of Balnarring
Balnarring is approximately a 1 hour 15 minute drive (86 kilometres) south of Melbourne.