Get into the rhythm of life in Port Macquarie in these toes-in-the-sand hotspots.
If you took a fish-eye view of Port Macquarie, you’d see beaches sweeping all the way off to the periphery. All up, there are 17 beaches in the region, making it a very appealing destination for those who dream of days spent surfing, swimming or wading in rock pools.
But the region, located halfway between Sydney and Brisbane, is not just renowned for its beaches: there are shady spots near rivers and lakes where you can also keep you cool. Here are some of the best beaches and swimming spots in and around Port Macquarie.
The surf hits the rocky headland at Tacking Point Lighthouse like a roaring beast, taking tiny incremental bites out of the cliffs as it has been doing for thousands of years. In an east-southeast swell, experienced surfers flock to the seven-kilometre long beach that leads to the lighthouse. The beach is patrolled by surf lifesavers during the school holidays, making it a favourite with families who follow up a swim with a camel ride.
Flynns Beach is protected by two rocky headlands to the north and south, making it idyllic for everyone from novice surfers to families who want to simply wallow in saltwater. Located three kilometres south of Port Macquarie, the roughly 500-metre long patrolled beach has shaded picnic areas and a kiosk, and is also popular for both rock and beach fishing.
Go with the flow along Nobbys Beach and you will be funnelled along the beach with locals walking their four-legged friends. The dog-friendly beach comprises a 400-metre stretch of powder-soft sand between the 30-metre high Nobbys Head and southern rocks of Flynns Beach. You can access Nobbys Beach via the stairs connecting the beach with the car park.
Surfers will want to get up at dawn if they’re keen on a wave in Port Macquarie. If there’s even a whiff of a swell running, local board riders will be seen running down to Town Beach in their neoprene suits before the wind ruffles the sea as Town Beach is the pick of Port Macquarie’s surf beaches. Head to Salty Crew Kiosk for a coffee and then swim between the flags in the southern corner of the beach, within walking distance of the CBD.
Cue the calming, hypnotic sound of waves lapping the shore and the scent of salt in the air and you will conjure up an approximation of Rainbow Beach. The best spot to swim at the beach, which is only patrolled during school holidays — between October and April –- is between the flags at the southern end. The beach, which is protected from howling southerly winds, is threaded with creeks that ribbon out to the sea.
Work up a sweat before your swim at Shelly Beach by walking along the bush track that skirts the 700-metre long arc of sand. It’s here you will find bush furniture, a unique sculpture park and a quirky hand-carved lookout dedicated to local artist Harry Thompson. The artist, who died in the year 2000, was known as the Mayor of Shelly Beach as he was its unofficial caretaker. Arrive at mid-to-low tide to swim in the natural rock pool.
Travel for just over an hour inland to Boorganna Nature Reserve to find Rawson Falls. The walk to the swimming hole at the base of the waterfall takes about two and a half hours if you’re stopping to take happy snaps along the way. Bring a pair of binoculars as you walk to the swimming hole as the nature reserve is home to species such as the scarlet honeyeater. While you’re chasing waterfalls, don’t miss Ellenborough Falls on the Barrington Coast, the longest single-drop waterfall in NSW.
The swimming hole at Wild Bull in Mount Boss State Forest is a secluded spot that is only a short drive from Wauchope. Walk past the eucalypts standing their ground and head to the crystal-clear swimming hole near one of two Cobrabald camping areas, where you will meet friendly locals and day trippers swimming in the silky waters of the Wilson River and using giant rocks as day beds while lazing in the dappled light.