A week vacation to regional NSW couldn’t come sooner after noticing I had become too inpatient, tired and accustomed to Sydney’s hustle bustle lifestyle. It was such a relief to be in a destination where you could simply stroll, appreciate your surroundings and hear soothing sea breezes instead of screaming sirens at night.
Welcome to Port Macquarie, a laid back seaside town located fours drive north of Sydney. With a small population of around 50,000, this was a perfect spot to recharge my batteries. No need to worry about traffic jams, finding a car park or where you can lay out your beach towel without the fear of sitting on someone. This gem of a destination served-up endless beaches, perfect surf, sub-tropical temperatures, beautiful walking tracks, lookout points and natural reserves and even camel rides along the beach – this town started to make me feel like my better ‘less restless’ self in a few hours of arriving.
Now back in the big-smoke (aka Sydney) I reminisce on the simple slow-go life experienced in this coastal town which is fast-becoming, a popular holiday destination for families, couples and retirees. Here were my favourite three things to do in Port Macquarie:
Morning camel ride along Lighthouse Beach
For something a little different which is bound to give you a laugh and even get the heart racing – why not jump on a morning camel ride along one of Port Macquarie’s best beaches, Lighthouse Beach. Spanning for miles – it is the perfect destination to get up and close with these incredible creatures more known to be roaming the Sahara Desert or Outback Australian than one of New South Wales’ beaches. Although it may be daunting at first to get up on a camel you’ll quickly adjust to the height and be enjoying the beach views, photo opportunities and banter provided by the friendly camel walking crew.
Port Macquarie Camel Safaris
Cost: Adults $30, Child $25 and 3-4 years $5
Location: Lighthouse Beach (Matthew Flinders Drive)
Open: Daily from 9am – 1pm (except Saturdays)
Get active and go coastal walking
It’s very tempting to lay by the pool all day when you’re on holidays, however for me after indulging in too many rich dishes and desserts I had to take action and work off all those extra kilojoules. No fan of a hotel gym, I instead prefer to get outdoors and explore a destination by foot. Port Macquarie is a great spot to go walk-about as it offers stunning views along its coastline which spans nine kilometres. Running from Town Green to Lighthouse Beach – you are able to experience the dramatic coastline structures with its high cliffs, secluded and patrolled beach areas, rocky breakwalls and various lookout/ picnic areas. During this trek walkers are able to visit eight different beaches one of my favourite being Flynns Beach – a popular spot for families with its grassy area, picnic facilities and BBQ’s. Other beaches further on from Flynns Beach include Nobbys Beach, Shelly Beach and the secluded Miners Beach. If you’re lucky – along the way you might see bottlenose dolphins feeding in the Hastings River estuary or off the rocks at Shelly Beach. Otherwise from June to November, migrating humpbacks can be seen cruising along the coastline as they leave the cold waters of Antarctica.
Location: Town Green to Lighthouse Beach
Sun, sea, sand and succulent dishes at Town Beach
One of my favourite spots to laze about and soak up the sun and sea is Town Beach. Only a 10-15 minute walk from the Town Centre, this spot offers crystal clear and calm waters to frolic in. A friendly spot for all and a nice change from the active surf and barrel waves present at some other beach spots along Port Macquarie’s coastline. In addition, Town Beach offers plenty of room to sprawl out, pitch a beach tent, enjoy a family picnic or throw a footy and kick a soccer ball around.
Location: Town Beach, Port Macquarie
Conveniently located across the road from Town Beach is one of Port Macquarie’s best fine dining restaurants, The Stunned Mullet. This elegant venue focuses on creating simple dishes with innovative and international flavours. Through sourcing local produce and pairing meals with great wine, The Stunned Mullet has become a highly regarded dining destination profiled in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide and Gourmet Traveller. A lovely spot for lunch or dinner after a day at Town Beach with such dishes to sample as Pork Belly and Seared Scallops, Comfit Duck Leg with truffle mash, Zucchini Flowers Tempura and Blue Eye Trevallar.
Cost: $8-26 (entrée), $29-$37 (main), $9.50 – $23 (dessert)
Location: 12 William Street, Port Macquarie
Open: Lunch from 12pm and Dinner from 6pm. Open 7 days.
Have you visited Port Macquaire in New South Wales? What did you enjoy about this small and relaxed coastal city?