Nestled halfway between Sydney and the Gold Coast in New South Wales, Port Macquarie is a perfect weekend escape for travellers looking for an Australian beach break.
There are plenty of things to see and do in Port Macquarie, including several idyllic sandy beaches, picture-perfect coastal walks, water activities, animal interactions and an abundance of superb places to eat and drink.
We booked a 2-night stay in Port Macquarie during our Sydney to Brisbane road trip, which gave us enough time to explore some of the best attractions in this charming east coast town.
Port Macquarie Attractions
Port Macquarie’s main attraction is Town Beach, favoured for its 600-metre sweeping bay of golden sand.
We could see why the locals love their beach with its large car park, shower and toilet facilities, open-air gym, and skate park.
We also saw many campers who pitched their RVs and tents at Town Green, a shaded grassy area next to the beach, which is a superb place to enjoy a lovely ocean-side stay.
Other nearby beaches include Oxley Beach, Flynns Beach, Shelly Beach, Miners Beach and Lighthouse Beach, which has the longest stretch of sand in the region and offers camel rides along the beach!
Town Beach Painted Rocks
Town Beach break wall was a highlight for us, lined with its colourfully painted rocks, not done by professionals but by budding artists who have left their mark in this charming area of Port Macquarie.
These fabulous rock paintings started as a local art competition in 1995 and continued in popularity. As we strolled along the walkway, we saw how people had decorated their chosen rocks with images of places and famous people along with personal tributes, poems and messages of hope. The rocks were a unique and lovely sight we had not encountered anywhere else on our travels.
Town Green is also the starting point of the nine-kilometre Coastal Walk which takes you to Tacking Point Lighthouse at Lighthouse Beach. You can even ride a camel along the beach if you want to!
Town Centre Shopping
Port Macquarie’s bustling high street is a short walk away from the beach with its mixture of charming independent stores alongside larger chains. There are plenty of places to eat, and we stopped off at Pancake Place for a sweet treat during the day and The Beach House in the evening.
Another restaurant we tried was The Grill, serving steak, ribs and seafood with views over the harbour. And for coffee, try Social Grounds Coffee and The Westport Club Takeaway, two eateries that we enjoyed.
Water Activities in Port Macquarie
Kayaking tours take visitors around the bay, while fishing trips are available for first-time fishers to experienced anglers. Have a go at stand-up paddle boarding along the Hastings River or self-drive fishing boats to explore the local waters.
Walks around Port Macquarie
You will find some great walks in Port Macquarie, including the Coastal Walk, the Googik Heritage Walking Track, the Sea Acres Rainforest Boardwalk and the Kooloonbung Creek Nature Reserve Trail. These wonderful walks and hikes will take you around some of the most beautiful natural sights in Port Macquarie.
If you are interested in the history of Port Macquarie, then the Hastings Heritage Walk, led by a local historian, will fill in all the details. Learn how the area was named after Sir Laughlan Macquarie from Ulva in Scotland in 1821 and established as a purpose-built settlement for convicts.
Look to the Skies
The most amazing sunsets light up the skies each evening. Pinks, blues and reds will change the sky into something quite unbelievable.
Add to that the swarm of flying foxes (bats) that take to the skies each evening around the Kooloonbung Creek Nature Reserve. During autumn and spring, there are around 20,000; in summer, their numbers swell to 100,000.
At dusk, you can stand on the bridge into town that spans the Kooloonbung Creek and watch and hear the bats fly overhead.
Port Macquarie Museum
Port Macquarie Museum showcases the city’s history from its time as a British penal colony to now being a popular Australian tourist destination.
During our trip to Australia, we also visited the Port Arthur Penal colony in Tasmania and learned how British convicts were sent to Australia to be locked up. It seems such a long way to send prisoners, some of who were children!
If, like me, you can’t get enough of these gorgeous creatures, visiting Port Macquarie koala hospital will allow you to learn about koalas.
A visit to Billabong Zoo is another great thing to do in Port Macquarie, as they also have a koala breeding centre in their 10-acre wildlife park. And don’t forget to see the Hello Koalas sculpture trail, which runs through the town.
My Preferred Accommodation in Port Macquarie
Sails Port Macquarie by Rydges
Located on the stunning Hastings River at Pelican Bay, this luxury resort features rooms with views of the river, tropical gardens and a large swimming pool surrounded by loungers and private cabanas.
Rooms have a balcony or patio perfect for evening sundowners or a morning coffee, and rooms are fully air-conditioned, vital for hot summer days in Australia. I loved sitting on the balcony in the mornings with a cup of coffee and watching the wildlife on the river.
The resort has an onsite restaurant and poolside dining during the day; however, we ate out in town during our stay as we wanted to experience the town in the evenings. Sails Resort is a leisurely 25-minute riverside walk into town or a 10-minute drive.
Find availability and pricing for Sails Port Macquarie by Rydges
Port Macquarie is a lovely place to explore that should be on your Australian East Coast itinerary – you will love it!
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