Port Macquarie lies on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, a beautiful town with a rich history that stretches back to convict times. The beaches are superb, the climate is perfect, development has been low-key and the town has retained its laid-back charm.
In the 1800s, John Oxley, the navigator, sailed along the Hastings River and named the spot where it flows into the Pacific Ocean after Lachlan Macquarie, the Governor of New South Wales. A penal settlement was founded for those who committed secondary crimes in NSW. Some buildings from that time still stand such as St Thomas’s Anglican Church and the museum.
Port Macquarie has stunning beaches, some with rainforest as a backdrop. Town Beach is the most popular, just minutes from the Town Center, and Flynns Beach is the best family beach, kitted out with shaded areas, playground and picnic spots. Shelly Beach is also great for families while Lighthouse Beach is perfect for surfing and visiting the historic lighthouse that dates from 1879.
One of Port Macquarie’s most popular attractions is the Billabong Koala and Wildlife Park, where visitors can pet the koalas. Meanwhile at the Koala Hospital there are daily “Feed, Walk and Talk” tours where visitors can learn about the history of each resident koala.
Timbertown Heritage Theme Park is just a 20-minute drive west of Port Macquarie. It’s one of the main attractions on the Mid North Coast.
Port Macquarie’s climate is known to be among Australia’s best. The coast is sub-tropical. Summer (December to February) temperatures range between 68 and 90 F, while winter (June to August) temperatures range between 45 and 70 F.
January to July and September to December are high season times when most visitors come to Port Macquarie. Whale-watching season (humpback whales) runs from May to November, the Formula Powerboat Grand Prix takes place at the end of July and the Festival of the Sun is in mid-December.
The first half of May and August to early September are low season months in Port Macquarie.
There are taxis, rental car companies and shuttle services available at the airport
Busways operates about 30 services in the North Coast area. The Central Business District is compact and the 322 bus route (Shelly Beach to Town Center) takes in Rocky Beach, Flynns Beach, Nobbys Beach and Lighthouse Beach is not too far from Shelly Beach. For maximum independence or getting into the countryside, a car is recommended.
• Miners Beach is the nudist beach. It is situated on the Port Macquarie Coastal Walk, a 5.5-mile trail through part of Sea Acres Reserve to Lighthouse Beach.
• Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park is a 125-acre site with walking trails and several bird-watching platforms (the reserve is home to about 130 species). The Friends of Kooloonbung Nature Park offer guided tours for a small fee.
• Sea Acres Rainforest Centre covers 178 acres beside Shelly Beach and Miners Beach. There is a boardwalk and ecology display and in October/November a Bush Tucker tour, which gives participants the opportunity to sample native bush foods and spices.
• For scuba-diving and snorkeling, Nobby’s Head, Point Palmer and Racecourse head are popular spots. Divers: The Ballina and John Penn have been declared Historic Shipwrecks.
• A camel safari along Lighthouse Beach is a wonderful experience. From the shore you may even spot dolphins frolicking in the waves.