Beyond its 17 pristine beaches, relaxed coastal villages and cosmopolitan CBD, Port Macquarie, just four hours’ drive north of Sydney, is an unexpected destination of lush hinterland and charming rural towns that’s also a rich food bowl and boasts a to-do list that will please all, from ankle biters to adventure junkies.
Explore (and support) a diverse community
Hop in the car and head inland from the main coastal township for a scenic drive through hinterland, past rolling countryside, to charming rural towns such as Wauchope, Comboyne and Kendall and, while out this way, see the 200-metre Ellenborough Falls. A 20-minute drive south of Port’s CBD will bring you to the peaceful enclave of waterways, beaches and villages known as ‘The Camden Haven’.
The region’s diverse landscape is a rich food bowl, with more than 80 local farmers and producers: tour Rockin’ Oysters Farm on Camden Haven River; pick strawberries at Ricardoes; sample wine at Cassegrain Winery or stock up on gourmet fare at The Other Chef. You can then meet these producers at Wauchope Farmers Market (fourth Saturday of every month).
It’s a creative region, and you’ll find a different market every weekend to stock up on unique crafts and local delicacies.
Undiscovered adventure and family fun
Kids in tow? Port Macquarie Surf School offers private and family group lessons; hire a tinny, kayak or SUP from Dunbogan Boatshed at Camden Haven River; or take a camel ride along Lighthouse Beach with Port Macquarie Camel Safaris. While at Bago Maze and Winery, wine and kids mix well thanks to its epic hedge maze and Baba Lila’s magical chocolate shop.
There is a bounty of local walking tracks to get the heart rate up, such as challenging Laurieton Track to the summit of North Brother Mountain; the nine-kilometre Coastal Walk (great for whale-watching, with cafes along the way).
The Sea Acres Rainforest boardwalk can be experienced on a guided tour or a self-guided walk and it’s an accessible 1.3-kilometre walk through the rainforest canopy. Less active but no less thrilling is a sky-high adventure with Port Macquarie Helicopters or a jet boat ride along the coast with Port Jet Cruise Adventures (dolphin and whale-watching).
Eat and drink
Experience a hatted dining experience at The Stunned Mullet; enjoy a long lunch at Little Fish Cafe, overlooking Innes Lake Estate; or head to co-op Laurieton Riverside Seafoods for its famed fish and chips. Drury Lane is a top choice for brunch, or Whalebone Wharf for lunch, while craft-beer lovers should make a beeline to Black Duck Brewery, Moore Beer or Wicked Elf.
Where to stay
Port Mac has accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets. Couples will love Sails Port Macquarie overlooking the marina; families are well catered for at a number of award-winning holiday parks including BIG 4 Ingenia Holidays Bonny Hills, Macquarie Breakwall, or Telegraph Retreat Cottages for countryside splendour; and Akuna Luxury Waterfront Retreat or Ana Mandara BnB for cosy seclusion.