Updated: Nov 12, 2019
If you haven't been to Port Macquarie on the Mid North Coast of NSW, then put it on your 'must visit list'.
I'm not sure what it is about the town but it has a certain vibe to it that I really love. In fact, I'm seriously considering relocating to the area. I chose the 'hero' shot for this post because when I was out looking for sunsets and came across this skate park full of talented bike riders and skateboarders which pretty much summed up Port for me; a country town that is vibrant, active, natural and full of very cool people.
I'm writing this in the middle of winter and this town is full of life and activity, where most sea-side towns are sleepy this time of year. As much as I would love to cover everything to do in Port Macquarie, I just couldn't in one post so here are some highlights of one of my trips to this coastal town on New South Wales.
Around the town you will find koala sculptures forming part of the Koala Sculpture Trail in Port Macquarie. These cuties can be seen in many places and the one above was taken at the Sea Acres Rainforest which was my first stop on my overnight.
SEA ACRES RAINFOREST CENTRE
Most probably not everyone is as obsessed with rainforests and beaches like I am, but even if you are not that into nature you might find a walk within Sea Acres Rainforest Centre Port Macquarie something that will convert you. The 1.3 km walk will take you on a journey of pristine Australian nature with the sounds of birds, the smell of the undergrowth, views of wonderful trees, plants and wildlife.
The gift shop sells a wide range of unique gifts that are of all things nature and tranquility.
Once you have finished your walk, breakfast or lunch in the cafe is a delight. I opted for Devonshire tea with just one scone and enjoyed sitting on the outside deck totally amused watching a brush turkey brazenly trying to steal food off the diners. Please don't feed the birds by the way.
MRS YORK'S GARDEN
Recreated in 2015, Mrs York's Garden is a beautiful headland garden overlooking the river mouth and close to the beach. With natural littoral rainforest and coastal headland species, the garden is a beautiful spot to wander around and discover Australian native plants.
The boardwalk includes a waterfall and offers fabulous views of the NSW coastline. Visitors can enjoy a picnic in the boat-themed shelter overlooking the garden.
The garden and walk is situated on Clarence Street, Port Macquarie.
SHOPPING AND TOWN
I love the layout of the town, it is close to the Hastings River where you can sit and look at the views on the jetty or from the many benches on the foreshore (pictured below). I enjoyed some fabulous fish n chips bought at Off The Hook which I scoffed down sitting on the jetty pictured above.
Port Macquarie has some great restaurants and cafes for the foodies in the shopping centre, as well as a wide range of boutique shops, surf shops, bakeries and basically everything you might need. Port Central is the main shopping complex in the middle of the town. Traffic can be pretty hectic in Port so I often park a few blocks out and walk.
The Glasshouse is a combination of a theatre, regional gallery, Ross family studio, visitor information centre, gift shop, conference and meeting facilities. The Glasshouse consists of a 588 seat tiered, auditorium with a full flytower orchestra pit. The Regional Gallery is 600 square metres over three levels. The Glasshouse is located conveniently in the centre of the town. This environmentally designed building is definitely worth a trip to if you are visiting Port Macquarie.
I enjoyed spending some time wandering around the three levels of the gallery with these two exhibitions;
John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new
Elsewhere: Travels through Syria, Iran, Egypt, Morocco and Central Asia
TOWN BEACH BREAKWALL
The first thing that will grab your attention at the breakwall are the colourful painted rocks, and on further inspection, many are inscribed with declarations of love and memorials. There are chairs along the breakwall to sit and admire the views and activity or find yourself a rock to sit on. At the end of the breakwall is the skate park where I took the photo at the top of this post.
The breakwall is a great place to view the sunrise and sunset and it is not unusual to spot dolphins frolicking in the water.
NORTH BROTHER LOOKOUT
North Brother Lookout is actually in Laurieton about a 20 minute drive from Port Macquarie and I've included it in this post because the views are spectacular. It's a 5km uphill drive through National Park and rainforest. The views from the lookout are sensational.
A 500m rainforest walk takes you to views on the other side and the rainforest is full of birdsong and that wonderful scent from the vegetation.
How wicked does that burger above look? Well, let me tell you it is something else and create by Chow/Haus Port Macquarie. I decided to have dinner at Chow/Haus on recommendation from my daughter who eats their a lot. The burger above is the pork belly and consists of crispy pork belly, apple and fennel slaw, sriracha kewpie mayo, milk bun. I was very pleased with my choice. I didn't take the photo by the way, I asked them to supply it because mine was too lame.
For breakfast I did my research and decided that Social Grounds was the place to go. Yes, I was right! I had a delicious danish from a local bakery and great coffee. The menu did tempt me for something more substantial but I wasn't hungry enough for that. Next time, for sure! (pictured bottom left).
Driving back to home I took the route via Laurieton and stopped off at the North Haven at Beach Break Cafe (pictured bottom right). It was wonderful to watch the huge waves crashing down on the beach and enjoying the sunshine with a great cup of coffee and a home-made sausage roll.
For lunch or dinner The Stunned Mullet is definitely a winner and as a bonus it is opposite the beach if you feel like a walk after all that fabulous food.
KOALA HOSPITAL (BILLABONG ZOO)
Billabong Koala Hospital and Zoo is a great family day out with the zoo set within It is now world-renowned for its koala breeding programme and is also a significant regional zoo with a diverse range of Australian and Exotic animals and birds. The zoo has been voted one of the region’s Top Attractions over a number of years as well receiving other Awards for service and value. Billabong Zoo exhibits over 80 species and cares for over 220 animals.
There is so much more to do in Port but for more I've only just touched on a few attractions. You will find plenty of accommodation in Port Macquarie and plenty of things to do and discover.