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Port Macquarie  New South Wales

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On the mid-north coast of NSW, Port Macquarie lies at the mouth of the Hastings River, 400 km north of Sydney and 450 km south of the Queensland Gold Coast. It is one of the more populous of the NSW coastal towns, so there is a broad selection of accommodation, attractions, dining establishments and shops.

The climate is agreeable, with average daily temperatures running from 7 to 18 degrees Celsius in winter, 18 to 25 in summer. The town is approximately a 10 km trip off the Pacific Highway, via either by the Oxley Highway, or further north, via the picturesque Hastings River Drive.

Founded as a convict settlement in 1821, echoes of which can be seen at the Hastings Historical Museum in Clarence Street, Port Macquarie has come a long way from those grim days. The vibrant CBD has a large selection of shops, restaurants and cafes, and along Short Street, by the Hastings River, you can choose from river cruises, dolphin watching cruises (including doing so aboard a Chinese Junk), whale watching cruises in May to July and September to November, and seaplane adventure flights.

A short walk up over the hill along Clarence Street, you’ll come to the first of the town’s beaches, the aptly named Town Beach. Strung further southwards along the coast are Oxley, Rocky, Flynns, Shelly, Miners and Lighthouse beaches.

There are numerous lookouts and nature walks along this stretch of coast, and for a beach experience with a difference try the camel rides at Lighthouse Beach. North Beach is across the Hastings River from the town, accessible by the vehicular ferry off Hastings River Drive.

Those that like to fish can choose from deep sea, game, beach and ocean fishing. Other outdoor activities on offer around the town are golf, tennis, scuba diving, waterskiing, wakeboarding, skydiving, jetskiing, quad-bike tours and hang gliding. Indoors you’ll find ten pin bowling, rockwall climbing and art galleries.

Other places to go in the area include:

  • Sea Acres Rainforest Centre - 72 hectares of rare coastal rainforest, protected since 1913. View via a 1.3km elevated boardwalk, with guided tours available, and visit the Enviro-Theatre and Ecology Display Rooms. Located at Shelly Beach, just south of the Port Macquarie CBD.
  • Macquarie Nature Reserve - the main attraction here is the Koala Hospital, where you can see recovering and orphaned koalas being fed, and go on a guided tour of the park.
  • Billabong Koala Breeding Centre - more koalas, plus wallabies, kangaroos, wombats, birds and more. Koala patting sessions are held daily.
  • Timbertown - a working recreation of a sawmiller’s village of the late 1800s near Wauchope. Heritage steam train, bullock team demonstrations, pony rides, woodturning, sawmill, blacksmith, miniature railway, paddle boats, BBQ area, stores, wine tasting, bushwalking trails and more.
  • The hinterland - the country roads to the west of Port Macquarie and Camden Haven wind though wonderful scenery, with the odd small village, café, gallery and cottage industry along the way. Ellenborough Falls, the largest single drop waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere is west of Combyne, as is the Boorgana Nature Reserve, with rainforest and abundant plant and animal life. Guided 4WD tours of this area are available.
  • Lake Cathie - a small town 17 km south of Port Macquarie, with surf and lake beaches, terrific fishing, canoe hire and bowling club. Spectacular coastal views from the wooded hills of the Lake Innes Nature Reserve behind the town.
  • Camden Haven - approximately 30 minutes drive south of Port Macquarie. A number of small towns dot the Camden Haven Inlet, the principal ones being North Haven, Laurieton and Dunbogan, all peaceful, beautiful and left alone by the developers. Beaches, surf, rivers and lakes, fishing, surfing, windsurfing, hang gliding, golf, bowling clubs, restaurants, cafes and more. Crowdy Bay National Park is just to the south of Laurieton, Dooragan National Park borders Laurieton to the west, Kattang Nature Reserve to the east. The North Brother Mountain in Dooragan NP offers wonderful coastal views, and a choice of two rainforest walks near the summit.
  • Wauchope - inland on the Hastings River, 20 minutes drive from Port Macquarie. Visit Timbertown, and the Big Bull, a working dairy farm with an animal nursery, restaurant, rides and of course the Big Bull itself.
  • Crescent Head - a small beachside town, 65 km north of Port Macquarie. Swim at the family-friendly Pebbly Beach, or for those wanting to surf try the beaches south of the town. Bushwalking, fishing, a picturesque 6 hole golf course looking out over the town and the headland, “Big Nobby”, cafes and a couple of restaurants. Hat Head National park is just to the north of the town, Limeburners Creek Nature Reserve to the south, ensuring the area remains unspoilt.


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