The scenic Port Macquarie coastline is a popular tourist destination on the mid-north coast of NSW, 4 hours north of Sydney. The area attracts nature lovers, families, surfers, retirees and couples - making it a holiday destination for everyone to enjoy. There is plenty to do for families in particular, with a whole coastline of stunning beaches - with Town, Flynns and Lighthouse Beaches all popular with families and safe for swimming. Sea Acres Rainforest Walk and Hydro Golf and Putt Putt are two options on sunny days and Jumbo's Playland, Wave Bowl ten pin bowling and Majestic Cinemas are all jam-packed with families on rainy days. The Glasshouse in the heart of town has theatres with nationally-touring kids shows and in the school holidays, both Port Central and Settlement City shopping centres also have shows and craft activities for the young ones.
If that's not enough, the following are 10 other attractions our family have discovered whilst in Port Macquarie on a recent holiday. Ensure you book a trip to Port Macquarie for more than a few days - you're going to need it!
1/ Looking for Shells on Shelly Beach is an enjoyable past-time for families, at any time of the year. This rocky and windswept beach, where the Sea Acres Rainforest meets the sea, is a tucked away treasure just a short drive along the coastal road. Its name lives up to its reputation with a large amount of perfectly-formed shells washing up onto the beach. With some patience and good eyes, this activity can keep young kids entertained for a long time, as they search for their favourite or largest shell. This rocky beach isn't safe for swimming and has no lifeguards - but it is great for a paddle. See Google map here.
2/ Billabong Zoo is a popular wildlife park, located between Port Macquarie and Wauchope, just a 10 minute drive out of town. As well as native Australian animals to feed and learn about at talks, there are also snow leopards, red pandas, penguins and meerkats in the 10 acre park. There is also the opportunity to get up close and personal with several of the residents. Entry costs $28.50 adults, $26.50 concession and $16 child (age 3-15). See here for details and Google map here.
3/ Abundance Lifestyle and Garden Centre is a plant nursery and cafe located 15 minutes from Port Macquarie and 10 minutes from Wauchope, on the turnoff to Rawdon Island. If you are visiting the Billabong Zoo (above), it is an ideal venue to stop off at afterwards, for a relaxing afternoon tea. The attraction at this property for kids is sitting on the deck in the cafe, overlooking the water-lillied lake and watching turtles pop up for air, as well as the "abundance" of water birds honking and hooting along the shoreline. If your kids love birds, nature, turtles and cake (not necessarily in that order!), they will love this scenic cafe with a difference. See here for details and Google map here.
4/ Ricardoes Tomatoes and Strawberries is located 10 minutes north of town. Families enjoy wandering through the greenhouses and choosing their own healthy, plump treats. There are 30,000 plants inside the greenhouses, making it fun to pick the perfect ones. See here for details and Google map here.
5/ Port Macquarie Koala Hospital is an interesting place for children to see koalas that have come from the wild around Port Macquarie and learn about their conservation. An average of 250 koalas a year are admitted to this hospital and are looked after by a host of passionate volunteers. The hospital isn't government funded, so they fund themselves and look to the community for support. Each day there is a 3pm tour to learn about some of the residents, with sad tales of injuries resulting from dog attacks, bushfires, disease or car accidents. Although it may be sad, kids enjoy seeing koalas up close and it makes them aware of the wildlife around them. See here for details and Google map here.
The popularity of the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital 3pm tour
6/ Bago Maze and Winery is located 30 minutes from Port Macquarie and is NSW's largest hedge maze. Kids enjoy running around the hedge maze, which takes approximately 20 minutes to one hour to get through, with lookouts and activities to do along the way. The cost is $10 adults and $7 child. Under 5's are free. See here for details and Google map here.
7/ Rose's Vineyard and Petting Farm is a family friendly property located 20 minutes out of town, in a quiet part of the Port Macquarie countryside. Inside there is a small cafe to buy tickets into the Petting Farm, with pens that you can walk into and get close up with rabbits, puppies, ducklings and chickens. This area changes frequently as puppies are adopted out and new ducklings arrive. Further along there are full sized yards for alpaccas, goats, sheep, ponies, pigs and more. Ensure you talk to the "farmer" for the background stories. The cost is $10 per person, with $1 for feed. See here for details and Google map here. See the Facebook page to check it is open before your arrival, with weddings and inclement weather closing it on occasion.
8/ Playgrounds are always popular with all ages, all year around. A particular favourite for younger kids is Livvi's Place at Westport Park. This scenic playground with views over the Hastings River has a large pirate ship in the middle, with steering wheel, twin slides and even a plank to walk. Also in the playground there is a sandpit, musical instruments, a tower to climb, roundabout, water play, swings and stepping obstacle course! This playground is completely enclosed and has pool gates. See Google map here.
9/ Port Macquarie Skate Park at Town Beach is a fun and free activity for all age groups. This whole area is a main attraction for families, especially if staying next door at the Port Macquarie Breakwall Holiday Park. Kids get together and ride their bikes, skateboards and scooters on the smooth surface and practice new tricks on the smaller ramps. Also nearby is the rocky Breakwall, with rocks painted by anyone who wants to leave their mark. Kids enjoy walking or riding along the long pathway and reading the messages. Also near the Skate Park is a playground with two net swings and a new Kiosk. See Google map here.
Scooter & skateboard fun at the Port Macquarie Skate Park, at the end of the Breakwall
10/ Cruises can be boarded at Town Wharf, just a short walk from the Town Green in the middle of town. Cruises include dolphin spotting, fish and chip cruises at sunset and winery cruises up the river. There are also fast jet boat rides, which have families lining up to get on and go for a whirl. Depending on your adventurous spirit, there are options for all ages on boats big and small. One cruise boat that stands out amongst the rest is the authentic Chinese "Junk", however also see the websites for Port Venture, Cruise Adventures, The Cruise Terminal and Port Jet - or just take a walk along the wharf to see when the next boat is leaving. See Google map here.