February 17, 2023
8 mins Read
From the well-known to the hidden gems, start planning your escape with these incredible Port Macquarie itinerary fillers.
Even if you’ve never made it to Port Macquarie, you’ll recognise the iconic breakwall along the Town Green from the many postcards it’s featured on over the years. The long stretch of colourful graffiti rocks are filled with a collage of messages, tributes and written memories from visitors and locals that serve as a gallery of sorts; providing the means for all to share just how impactful their time in this coastal region of NSW has been.
It also serves as the starting off point to the popular nine-kilometre coastal walk that stretches from the Town Green to Tacking Point Lighthouse and Lighthouse Beach. Expect to spot marine life, bask in the beauty of the picturesque location, and have a chat to the friendly locals casting their fishing lines off the breakwall along the way.
Get up close and personal to an array of Australian and exotic wildlife at the award-winning Billabong Zoo Koala & Wildlife Park; from snow leopards, koalas and red pandas to reptiles, meerkats, cheetahs and more. Visitors are encouraged to pat, stroke, feed, hold, hear and see over 80 species of mammals, reptiles and birds – and you can even book a personal animal encounter.
Get along to one of their much-loved zoo talks that readily occur throughout the day to learn about the zoo’s passion for conservation, as well as the world-renowned koala breeding program. With the recent bushfire tragedy claiming the lives of so many treasured local koalas, it’s more important than ever to increase conservation, and work towards restoring the koala population.
Travelling with someone inclined to sleep the morning away? Well, a Port Macquarie sunrise is the best incentive to get them out of bed early. Head to Town Beach to welcome the new day – its protection from south winds and close proximity to the centre of town makes it a popular spot with locals. Pack a picnic blanket, wear warm clothes and prepare to sit back and take in the multi-hued glory. If you need some caffeine to get your travel companion going, The Salty Crew Kiosk is open from 6am every day.
After the 2019/2020 bushfires devastated the local koala population, the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital was met with an overwhelming wave of financial support from all over the world. A crowdfunding page was initially set up to raise money to purchase and distribute automatic drinking stations to burnt areas but the page quickly amassed over $8 million from more than 150,000 donors.
The funds have enabled the beloved koala rehabilitation centre to not only install 100 of the planned drinking stations.
Plan to stop by to see for yourself the important work they do. Don’t miss the guided walk and talk tour that departs at 3pm daily and prepare to make some furry friends of your own.
Approximately 16,000 humpback whales migrate north along the coast of NSW each year from Antarctica to mate and give birth before beginning their return journey back south for the summer. And Port Macquarie is one of the best destinations in Australia for a close encounter with these majestic mammals.
Book one of the many whale-watching cruises that depart frequently throughout the season (May to November) to get up close and personal with the whales out on the water. The experienced skippers of Port Jet Cruise Adventures know the best viewing spots and will also give you a tonne of interesting information about the whales along the way.
There are a number of popular whale-spotting sites dotted along the coast if you don’t have the budget for a cruise. The heritage-listed 1879 Tacking Point Lighthouse is a good vantage point, along with various spots on the Port Macquarie Coastal Walk and at Grants Head on the northern edge of Grants Beach.
Take a journey into Port Macquarie’s past and discover what makes the town so special at the Port Macquarie Museum. Learn about its history as a British penal settlement through to how it became the popular tourist destination that it is today – everything you need to know is inside these four walls.
There are over 2,000 objects on display at any one time that span across several rooms and galleries. Good Sports explores the sporting achievements of many local citizens and teams, Homecoming tells the stories of those who were in active service during the First World War, and Tourists Paradise uncovers Port Macquarie’s rich tourism history.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect spot to picnic, a dog-friendly place to walk, somewhere that’s 4WD accessible or you just want to learn how to surf – there is a beach in Port Macquarie with your name on it.
Families flock to the patrolled shores of Lake Cathie in the summer to enjoy the inflatable slides and trampolines. Flynns Beach is also a popular patrolled beach that ticks the kid-friendly boxes with its shaded picnic areas and kiosk. Surfers frequent Town, Lighthouse and Rainbow Beach; while those seeking solitude make their way to Oxley and Shelly Beach for less-crowded options. Nobbys Beach, with its long stretches of sand, is the best dog-friendly spot in the area.
Call into Ricardoes Tomatoes & Strawberries to experience the pleasure of picking your own plump, luscious strawberries. Located just 10 minutes from the CBD, Ricardoes grows five varieties of hydroponic strawberries and over 30,000 plants in their greenhouse. Join the free guided farm tours that depart 11am on weekdays, or opt to spend some time meandering through the fields at your own leisure.
Enjoy lunch at the onsite Café Red before popping next door to buy up big at the regional produce centre that overflows with bags of tomatoes and punnets of strawberries from Ricardoes, in addition to the rows of fresh produce from local farmers – including lettuce varieties, herbs, dark green spinach and freshly dug onions. You’ll also find shelves of local preserves; standouts include Ricardoes tangy tomato relish, rich tomato pasta sauce and a unique strawberry conserve that’s thick with whole berries.
Community comes alive at the iconic Port Macquarie Beach House. This pub boasts a contemporary menu and a prime waterfront location with a relaxed atmosphere that’s made even more inviting thanks to the friendly locals who are always willing to stop for a chat.
The Beach House serves as a favourite hangout for a sunset drink, with patrons who linger well into the night on weekends. It’s also a popular space for events, which means there is usually something to keep you entertained of an evening while you sip on a local brew or indulge in a hearty pub meal.
Any place that combines a winery with an outdoor playground deserves a mention on this list. Nestled in a picturesque valley surrounded by towering eucalyptus trees, rolling countryside and acres of vines, Bago Maze and Winery is located a short scenic drive off the Pacific Highway, south of Port Macquarie.
Kids and adults alike are encouraged to wander, run and get lost in the stunning architecturally-designed native lilly pilly hedge maze. Spend your day seeking out the magic of hidden bends, sunken pathways and beautifully-landscaped gardens, only stopping to take in the serenity at the lookout towers. It’s one of the world’s largest hedge mazes, with over 2000 metres of pathways to explore.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head up to the working vineyard and winery portion of the property. Perched on a hill, the cellar door and pergola overlook the maze and vineyard, making it the ideal spot to sit and take in the scenery. Enjoy a tasting and then relax with a glass of wine or coffee and indulge in a cheese or meat platter of local produce from around the region.
If it’s accessible, panoramic views you seek, then North Brother Mountain offers some of the best in the region. Situated in Dooragan National Park, the immediate east coast view takes in the magnificent Camden Haven Inlet. Views extend to Crowdy Head in the south and as far as Mount Yarrahappini in the north and trace the Camden Haven River as it winds its way between Queens and Watson Taylors Lakes. Pack your own lunch and plan to linger a while at the picnic facilities on offer. There’s also an open lawn area – spread out, relax and unwind while you enjoy some of Port Macquarie’s most beautiful sights.
For all you foodies or just hungry people heading to Port Macquarie, you have to try at least one of these restaurants and foodie delights on the Port...
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