Family fun in Port Macquarie
With its spectacular coastline and thriving café scene, few regional cities are better set up for a family weekend away than Port Macquarie. Boasting some unique attractions and off-the-beaten track adventure opportunities, Port has it all.
Here are some of Coastbeat’s favourites to get you started…
Experience a camel safari on Lighthouse Beach. Image courtesy of Lindsay Moller Productions
Sunrise from Town Beach lookout
If you’ve got young kids, chances are you’re an early riser. Kick your morning off by watching a spectacular sunrise over the ocean from the Town Beach lookout, then head down the hill for a dip in the ocean – the perfect start to a summer’s day.
Spot wildlife at Sea Acres Rainforest
One of the largest remaining coastal rainforest reserves in New South Wales, the beautifully preserved Sea Acres is a treat for the senses. Begin at the Sea Acres Rainforest Centre to learn about local Aboriginal culture and the rainforest environment. Pick up a brochure and head to the 1.3km boardwalk to spot rare rainforest birds, goannas and, if you’re lucky, a slithering diamond python (guided tours are also an option), before ending your visit with lunch under the canopy at the Rainforest Café.
Image of Shrek from Billabong Zoo courtesy of www.portmacquarieinfo.com.
Home to 200 different animals, including lions, cheetahs and penguins, Billabong Zoo lives up to its award-winning reputation. Wander the park at your leisure or join daily feeding presentations by experienced guides to gain a deeper insight into your favourite animal. Watching the huge resident crocodile, Shrek, being fed his lunch is sure to be a highlight!
Climb North Brother Mountain
Located 30-minutes from Port Macquarie in Dooragan National Park, where North Brother Mountain is a must for bushwalkers. The challenging three-kilometre, one-way summit trail winds through towering forest to the top of the mountain where it ends with an incredible view. Don’t feel like sweating it out? It’s an easy drive up the mountain, where you’ll find a short rainforest walking loop, ideal for kids of all ages.
Wet and Wild
Release your inner child at Stoney Aqua Park, a supersized water adventure land complete with floating trampolines, obstacles, slides, ladders and swings. Situated on a freshwater man-made lake 10 minutes north of Port Macquarie, the park has a team of lifeguards on duty and is safe for kids aged three and up (children under six require parental supervision).
Port Macquarie’s café scene offers plenty of choice for foodloving families.
In the CBD, Coastbeat recommends Drury Lane and LV’s on Clarence – both feature fresh local produce prepared with love. The newly opened Burger Rebellion is a delicious lunch option while Bills Fishhouse + Bar is great for a classy night out. Those with little kids will love the designated kids’ areas and child-friendly food at Pancake Place or the Beantree Café.
Other family favourites include Bookface Café in Port Central, which has some healthy lunch options and a great selection of sweet treats, or Salty Crew Kiosk at Town Beach. Salty Crew is the perfect choice for parents keen to relax with a coffee while the kids play in the sand.
The Port Central Real Food Markets are another must-do for lovers of local produce. Held every Tuesday from 2pm-6pm in the Port Central/Glasshouse Forecourt, these farmers’ markets are overflowing with a huge range of fresh, locally made and produced food.
Save a Koala
The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital is run by a team of passionate volunteers who care for over 250 injured or ill koalas every year. Visit the hospital at 3pm to join a tour, meet the koalas and hear the fascinating stories behind their rescue and rehabilitation. If you’re feeling generous, pick a koala to ‘adopt’and you’ll receive a certificate and information pack, or choose a furry souvenir from the Koala Shop before you leave. The hospital is also a great place to begin the Hello Koala
Sculpture Trail. Download a map from the Hello Koalas website to find 62 koala sculptures painted by local artists and placed around the Port Macquarie Hastings region.
Create a masterpiece
While there’s plenty of outdoor fun to be had in Port Macquarie, there are some great indoor
options too. Crafty kids will love Port Central’s holiday workshops (held on the food terrace), where they can create dreamcatchers, learn the art of paper bead making and more. While you’re there, take the opportunity to do some shopping at P’chi or Stormriders for a great range of summer fashion and swimwear.
Next door at the Glasshouse, view the latest travelling exhibitions and shows or sign your little ones up for the Glasshouse Sprouts art workshops that are held for children aged 4-6 during school holidays.
Art on the Breakwall path
Stretching from the CBD to Town Beach, this popular walkway is a Port Macquarie icon. Spend hours perusing the colourful and quirky artworks by locals and visitors alike or simply enjoy strolling along the river to Town Beach, where you’ll find a great skate park for the kids and a relaxing spot to enjoy the sunset.
Family friendly beaches
Whether you’re into surfing or prefer a calm bay to paddle in, Port Macquarie has a beach for you. Coastbeat favourite Shelly Beach has plenty of rock pools to explore and white sand to relax upon while patrolled hotspots Flynns, Town Beach and Lighthouse are safe for kids and are also great surfing beaches. At Lighthouse Beach you can take a camel ride with Ken the camel man or visit the Tacking Point Lighthouse which stands at just eight metres tall.
Kids at Harry Thompson statue on Shelley Beach
A short drive west of Port Macquarie lies the historical timbercutting town of Wauchope, where you’ll find two of the region’s most popular attractions. Travel back to the 1800s at Timbertown, a replicated colonial town where you can take a ride on a genuine steam train and learn how to crack a whip before heading on to the nearby Bago Maze & Winery – the largest hedge maze in New South Wales. Wind down with a glass of locally made wine or a sweet treat from the resident artisan chocolatier.
Explore 2kms of trails in the largest hedge maze in NSW at Wauchope’s Bago Maze and Winery, image courtesy of Bago.