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7 Reasons to Visit Sensational Port Macquarie

 Words Glenn Marshall
Pics Matt Williams and Port Macquarie Hastings Council


What was once a convict settlement has developed into one of NSW’s best coastal towns, and here’s why.


There is so much to enjoy in Port Macquarie, it wasn’t hard to come up with a list of things to see and do. The challenge was keeping it to seven, as you’ll discover when you visit the region for yourself. 



The colourful graffiti has brought these rocks to life

It’s refreshing to see councils recognising that some forms of graffiti are awesome art and that besides adding colour to an environment, it attracts tourists, which helps the local economy. The southern break wall in Port Macquarie has been livened up by a growing number of colourful graffiti rocks since 1995.
These rocks are a collection of messages, tributes and memories left by locals and visitors alike. The recommendation from the locals is that sunrise and sunset are the perfect time to check out the rocks, and if you’re lucky, you might spot a pod of dolphins having fun in the Hastings River. 




Port Macquarie is a craft beer lovers heaven

The Craft Beer market is enjoying an explosion in popularity and there are a few brewers who are sharing their unique creations with very happy locals and a growing number of tourists. 

Wicked Elf Beers has been brewing in Port Macquarie for the past 10 years and offers a core range of brews that include a Pale Ale, Pilsner, Porter, Endless Summer and Fastidious Bastard IPA as well as a limited release and seasonal range that currently includes a Death Between the Tanks Double IPA, Easy Bastard and the Hazy Bastard NEIPA. Wicked Elf also has an operational kitchen, providing tasty food to match your beverage.

1/58 Uralla Road, Port Macquarie
Opening Hours: Tues to Thur 11am–5pm, Fri & Sat 11am–late
Contact: (02) 6581 3949

Moorebeer Brewing Co. has a philosophy to be ‘ever-improving’ with its craft beers, forever evolving by listening to customer feedback and the seasonal changes to grains and hops. You can try to find your perfect beer with the taproom offering up to 10 different brews with tasting paddles available or simply have a crack with a couple of schooners. Stef and the team from Char Bar provide quality food from their food truck during opening hours. We can vouch for Stef’s food; he looked after us all for three dinners during Camper Trailer of the Year, with no one disappointed with the choice.  

35 Merrigal Road, Port Macquarie
Opening Hours: Fri & Sat 12pm–9pm, Sun 12pm–5pm
Contact: 0466 628 640

Black Duck offers a range of eight craft beers on tap plus more in stubbies with everything from a Summer Swallow Mid-Strength Pale Ale to a Phoenix Migration Stout as well as an apple cider, an alcoholic ginger beer and an adult soda. You can also experience a brewery tour with Al Owen, enjoy sharing a local platter and book a table for the popular Friday night pizzas.

6B Acacia Avenue, Port Macquarie
Opening Hours: Wed & Thurs 12pm–6pm, Fi 12pm–8pm, Sat 1pm–5pm
Contact: 0477 447 467



Foodies love what's on offer


Over the past decade, Port Macquarie has grown as a foodie heaven with the fresh produce available at local farmgates, markets, wineries, food trucks, breweries, restaurants, pubs and cafes. You can find renowned local oysters, fresh bread made with organic and sustainable flours, pick your own strawberries and tomatoes, sample French varietal wines and match Vietnamese street food Banh Mi with freshly squeezed sugar cane juice.  

An event that attracts tens of thousands of people is the annual Slice of Haven Food, Wine and Beer Festival at nearby Camden Haven; the 2022 dates are still to be confirmed. Port Macquarie even has its own hatted restaurant, The Stunned Mullet. 



Whatever your surfing talent, there is a wave for you

Whether you are a pro surfer or someone who just wants to learn how to carve up the waves, Port Macquarie is the place to go. From beginners to great surfers, The Port Macquarie Surf School holds lessons at Flynns Beach, which is also the town’s best family beach. Otherwise, the best breaks can be enjoyed at Lighthouse, Flynns and Town beaches, with the next best Shelly and North Shore. Middle at the Town Beach is suitable for experienced surfers only. Further south, Rainbow, North Haven, Cathie, Grants and Dunbogan beaches are all good hangouts. 



The Coastal Walk ends at this spectacular spot

The colourful break wall is a popular starting point for the Coastal Walk that leads nine kilometres to the Tacking Point Lighthouse. Along the way, you’ll pass historic sites while experiencing stunning seaside beauty. Between May and November, you may be lucky enough to spot migrating Humpback whales from one of the best vantage points on the east coast of Australia. The walking track traverses beaches, boardwalks, sections of stairs, bush track and viewing platforms along its route, which can also be broken up into shorter sections, handy if you have kids. 




The locals are spoilt for choice when it comes to 4WD beach driving along the Mid North Coast region as we discovered while organising the 2021 CTOTY event. Firstly, the rules need to be read and understood before a permit is required to be purchased ($33 for 30 days or $66 per annum). Secondly, you need to remember that you’re sharing the beach with others, including children and pets. Once your permit is sorted, you have several beaches to choose from, with a varying degree of difficulty and conditions that are ever-changing, and they include:
  • North Shore
  • Lighthouse Beach
  • Rainbow Beach
  • Grants Beach
  • Dunbogan Beach 
  • Kylie’s Beach



Camels at Lighthouse Beach

Cable Beach isn’t the only beach in Australia that has camel tours walking the beach, with Port Macquarie Camels taking care of business at Lighthouse Beach. The cameleers operate every day except Saturday and Christmas Day and offer 30-minute rides between 9.30am–1pm and 20-minute rides between 9am–2pm during NSW school holidays. Riding atop a ship of the desert is an ideal way to experience a walk along one of Port Macquarie’s most spectacular beaches. 


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