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Published January 27th 2015
The Best of Port Macquarie: A Guide for Beginners
I am a Brisbane boy born and bred. But having my in-laws and many relatives living down south (Sydney and Melbourne) means that when some time for R & R comes along, my wife, kids and I usually hop in the car and head south.
The now familiar Pacific Motorway along Australia's beautiful eastern coastline takes you past a procession of well-known NSW beaches. As I would breeze by Byron Bay, cruise through Coffs Harbour or coast past Crescent Head, I began to wonder why we weren't putting a little more holiday time aside to check these places out. Breaking up the trip also helps when you have 3 young children in tow. A win-win situation for everyone.
My better half didn't take much (any) convincing when I asked that we try and spend a couple of nights at a different stretch of coastline on the way home from our annual southern pilgrimage. So, putting my (little) money where my (big) mouth was, I went ahead and booked 2 nights at Port Macquarie.
Growing up I was far more familiar with (and had occasionally visited) the northern NSW beaches like the aforementioned Byron Bay, Ballina and even Yamba. I admit that before I visited for the first time, I barely knew anything about Port Macquarie.
And what a very pleasant surprise my first visit was.
Arriving at Port Macquarie without any outrageous expectations and without pre-conceived ideas allowed my family and I to appreciate the place for what it is - a beautiful coastal town with pristine beaches and a nearby lush and lake-filled hinterland.
With a population of around 40,000, Port Macquarie is one of the larger coastal towns along the NSW central coast. Don't expect something quite as quiet and relaxing as Yamba, but it's also a far cry from the sometimes oppressive crowds you can encounter at my closest beaches on the Gold Coast.
Please click on page 2 Accommodation (below) to continue.
After surfing some of the common holiday accommodation websites, I was lucky enough to find a great deal for 2 nights in a 2 bedroom villa at the outstanding four star Flynns on Surf holiday complex. The villa was clean, spacious, uncluttered and modestly but tastefully decorated, giving a beachy but not overwhelming holiday feel, exactly what my wife and I wanted. The villa contained a fully equipped kitchen, 2 bathrooms (very handy if holidaying as a family) and a lockable, but very narrow garage for the car.
Flynns on Surf is located a short walk from Flynns Beach (you have to cross Surf St to access the beach) and a five minute drive to the town centre. Also within walking distance are a convenience store, a bottle shop, the local pizza and pasta place (the pizza highly recommended), PocoLoco Mexican Restaurant and a couple of small local cafés that will satiate your morning coffee cravings. What more could you want?
The excellent location, helpful but unobtrusive service, pleasant street appeal and proximity to multiple beaches make Flynns on Surf an excellent accommodation option for families and couples alike.
Please click on page 3 Beaches (below) to continue.
Speaking of the beaches, all I can say is they are spectacular.
The locals will gladly tell you that Port Macquarie's beaches are the best in the world and have won many international awards over the years. The 'best in the world' boast may demonstrate a hint of local bias, but I can assure you that Port Macquarie's beaches are excellent and will cater to just about anyone's coastal tastes.
All in all, the Port Macquarie region encompasses nine beaches: North Shore, Town Beach, Oxley Beach, Rocky Beach, Flynns Beach, Nobby's Beach, Shelly Beach, Miners Beach and Lighthouse Beach.
Without providing an exhaustive description of each beach, they all have their own character and individual charms. Having such a long and diverse stretch of coastline, Port Macquarie is made to cater for all different holiday types.
Families of all sizes and ages will love the patrolled and easily accessible Flynns Beach, while Shelly Beach features a natural tidal lagoon that may be more suitable for the younger children. Town Beach also provides barbecue facilities and children's playgrounds overlooking the ocean.
Please click on page 4 Other Attractions (below) to continue.
While the quality and beauty of the beaches are hard to top, there is much more to Port Macquarie than just its beaches. I highly recommend that visitors put some time aside for Port Macquarie's other abundant attractions.
Tacking Point Lighthouse, built in 1879 and one of Australia's oldest lighthouses, is a must-see with amazing 180 degree views providing excellent photo opportunities.
If you like to combine some activity with your sight-seeing, the 9km coastal walk stretching along 8 of Port Macquarie's beaches provides a leisurely workout with unforgettable views – taking in the sunrise while traversing this walk is truly a salve for the soul.
The Rainforest Café set amongst Sea Acres Rainforest is a fantastic little breakfast or lunch option in a unique setting. Take a break from the beach, catch some shade, sit back and enjoy the tranquil rainforest surrounds while munching on the French themed menu options. The scrambled and poached eggs, croissants and coffee did not disappoint. The café offers both indoor and outdoor dining options and my kids were even provided with colouring books and pencils by the friendly and attentive staff. If all you're looking for is a quiet spot to read the paper while sipping on some fresh tea or coffee, this is also the place for you. In such a green and peaceful setting it is easy to forget the coastline is only a couple of minutes away.
There are also fishing spots aplenty (coastal, deep sea, river and estuary), 3 golf courses in the region, nearby wineries, kayaking, horse riding and the sprawling hinterland region and lakes.
And much more.
Since I can't possibly do Port Macquarie justice by attempting to describe its countless attractions, I recommend the comprehensive (and free) Port Macquarie 'Eat See Do' app available for Android here and iPhone here. This guide should give readers a little nudge in the direction of many of Port Macquarie's hidden gems and also provide information regarding accommodation and dining.
Now I could go on and on (believe me I could), but I leave it to you to discover these and everything else Port Macquarie has to offer in your own time and at your leisure.
For myself, the family will definitely be back here again at some point to check off the many other attractions that we weren't able to include on our first and all too brief visit. Another sight of those beaches can't come soon enough.
All in all, I found Port Macquarie to be a really beautiful coastal town with beaches, scenery and attractions enough to keep any visitor coming back with something new to discover every time.