NSW : Port Macquarie
Port Macquarie, on the NSW Mid-North Coast, is an easy four hour drive from Sydney. Boasting a gorgeous hinterland, exquisite coastline and a town centre with a friendly village vibe, it’s the perfect destination for a family holiday with everything – literally everything – at your fingertips.
We stayed at the NRMA Port Macquarie Breakwall Holiday Park which borders the river and Town Beach and is a short five minute walk into the heart of the town. Personally, I love being about to leave the car and walk everywhere; it gets me straight into holiday mode.
We spent our mornings walking into town, stopping every few metres to admire the painted rocks on the Breakwall and playing on and around the huge pier. The pathway winds around the foreshore, past the town centre and the marina, so it’s perfect for bike riders, joggers, young families with prams and kids on scooters. And the view is serene; we saw dolphins in the river, kayakers, a sea plane and sailing boats. In the other direction is the Port Macquarie Coastal Walk, a 9km (one way) walk past beaches, historic landmarks and coastal scenery. It’s classified as a Grade 4 walk and can be broken up into four easier (roughly 2.2km sections).
From our caravan we looked over the grassed area at Town Beach with its skate park and wonderful children’s playground. There’s a little cafe right next to the park that sells beautiful coffee and we found ourselves there on many occasions (because if mum and dad have coffee and the kids have a park, everyone is happy).
We took a few short day trips into the hinterland; a short 20minute drive from town. I highly recommend a visit to Bago Maze and Vineyard – it’s very Alice in Wonderland and we spent close to two hours running around the hedge maze – such fun. Ricardoe’s Tomatoes and Strawberries is a popular spot and for good reason. Rows and rows of pick-your-own strawberries grow in hydroponic greenhouses and the kids loved filling their buckets with the biggest, reddest strawberries they’ve ever seen. Closer to town, the Koala Hospital is a must visit with guaranteed cute factor.
If you’re planning a trip to Port Macquarie, consider this your travel guide:
NRMA Parks and Resorts have owned this big park for close to two years and they’ve recently renovated the pool, cabins and the amenities. It’s a popular park and for good reason; the staff are incredibly friendly and helpful, it borders the Breakwall and the Hastings River and it makes for a very easy walk to Town Beach and the town centre. It’s the only choice if you want to stay in the heart of Port Macquarie. We chose a site towards the back of the park where we could see the skate park and children’s playground (opposite the area for unpowered sites which was big and grassy and perfect for busy kids who want to run all day).
The only hospital of its kind in Australia, The Koala Hospital takes care of injured and sick koalas and, where possible, rehabilitates and re-releases them into the wild. Started in 1973 by Jean and Max Starr, the hospital cares for between 200-250 koalas each year and works closely with Sydney University, the University of Technology Queensland and the Australian Museum into koala diseases. Guided tours take place every day at 3pm and go for roughly 30minutes. You’ll have the opportunity to see the koalas being fed and you’ll learn more about their injuries and rehabilitation programme and, most endearingly, their unique quirks. Fun fact: the word koala means “little/no water” because Koalas are hydrated by Eucalyptus leaves.
The kids absolutely loved following the Koala Trail and looking for these large scale and wonderfully vibrant Koalas. Each individually designed by local artists, there are 62 in total and they are dotted around the Port Macquarie Hastings area. #hellokoalas has won numerous tours awards and for good reason; everyone loves a treasure hunt and what better way to encourage visitors to set out on foot and explore the local area.
With 2000 metres of pathways covering 10,000 square metres, the maze features lookout towers, bridges, boardwalks, a treasure hunt and musical instruments. Honestly, we had so much fun in here, ducking in and out of gaps in the hedge and wandering around and around and around till we found a new path and headed down it. The design of the maze takes inspiration from the surrounding vineyard, bushland and the influences of earth, air and water represented in two interlaced spirals. Once we found our way out (it took a while) we enjoyed a lovely cheese platter with wine at the main building before heading home along the beautiful country roads of Wauchope.
Ricardoe’s is a family owned, environmentally friendly farm specialising in hydroponically grown strawberries and tomatoes. Two acres of greenhouses are home to five varieties of strawberries and eight varieties of tomatoes. When grown hydroponically, the fruit requires significantly less water hence its an incredibly sustainable growing method. Irrigation, nutrient application, humidity, temperature, light, insect and disease is all controlled by state of the art technology. There are four greenhouses open to the public so you can pick-your-own strawberries and, once your bucket is full, take it into the cafe for weighing. Treat yourself to lunch (the tomato bruschetta is amazing) and sample the variety of locally grown/made jams and relishes.
A menu abundant with local produce including eggs and bacon from the cafe’s very own farm, LV’s on Clarence is your best bet for a scrumptious breakfast. As soon as we sat down we were welcomed with menus and colouring + crayons for the kids. Fresh juices and great coffee were served within minutes of us ordering and the food was delicious. Highly recommend!
Hands down the best burgers we’ve ever eaten (it’s rated #5 best burgers in the country on Trip Advisor). This classic burger restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and offers a selection of beef, chicken, vegetarian and vegan options complimented by hot chips, local beer and a range of homemade condiments. The service was impeccable and we were served within fifteen minutes of ordering. And then…there was silence as we ate because….yum!
Blue Cow Gelato
I highly recommend burgers at Burger Rebellion followed by a walk to the opposite end of Clarence St for a Blue Cow Gelato. We had the loveliest evening doing just this and the gelato – all made on the premises – is absolutely decadent. Our favourite flavours: butterscotch, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla (served in a waffle cone, of course).