by Jacqui Owens
I went 31 years without holidaying in Port Macquarie and then I went twice in 3 months. So here’s what I’ve discovered about it..
Firstly, it’s a 4-5 hour drive, depending on how many stops you make. Don’t let that scare you because with a sing along, an iPad movie and a nap you can actually power through it without too much drama. Hot tip: we brought a potty in the car for my toilet training daughter in case we weren’t close to a toilet, and water to rinse. The potty got a workout!
We stayed at the Rydges both times because that’s where our travel companions booked on each occasion, and it was a good choice – nice and central, a great little pool and located right on the water. We figured seeing as we were on the water, we may as well get a balcony room and it was very worth it!
Seeing as Port Macquarie is known for its beautiful beaches and there are so many of them (like 8 or 9!), it would be remiss of me not to mention them. We only went to a couple of beaches because we only stayed a couple of nights each time and also because: young kids.
In walking distance from Town is the aptly named Town Beach, but we also drove to Flynns beach, which was just as beautiful. Both had lifeguards, a little shade, and ice creams nearby – TICK, TICK, TICK. They looked great for surfing if you are so inclined.
I consider this a must see/do/enjoy!! It’s a flat, easy walk along the Hastings River from town to the Town Beach and all the way along are huge rocks which have been painted by locals, visitors.. anyone.. as a sort of “I woz ‘ere ‘09”. Apparently, it began as an art competition in 1995 to cover unsightly graffiti but it’s now like an outdoor gallery that anyone can add their own touch to. I saw 5 groups painting rocks across my two visits. Do you have a painted rock at the Port Macq Breakwall? Does anyone know the rules regarding painting over old/faded artworks?
Along the Breakwall is a skate park for the bigger kids and a playground for the little ones, and many benches to stop and enjoy the view.
I was in Port Macquarie over NYE then Easter so got to try some of the fancy restaurants (which is a nice change!).
We had Easter lunch at The Stunned Mullet – it was lovely! The food was on point and the wine delicious. Not a really a place for kids, given its fanciness, but we brought ours all the same, and they were very accommodating. I had the duck and died and went to heaven.
We also went to Zebu (under Rydges) for a fancy dinner, which was very nice. The restaurant, albeit lacking some atmosphere, had the loveliest wait staff who were super sweet to my kids. Bonus points.
The best breakfast we had in Port Macquarie was at Inside Out at Lighthouse – it’s a charming little café situated just up from Lighthouse, about a 10-minute drive from town. Great coffee, dedicated kiddies play area inside the café and they sell lots of cute bric-a-brac that us mums love to buy. I recommend going here and possibly tying it in with a lighthouse walk (although we did not).
We also enjoyed a few picnic dinners on the lake eating fish and chips, watching the fisherman and pelicans alike try to catch some fish of their own. Then once the kids were tucked up in bed, we retired to the aforementioned balcony for wine guzzling purposes.
Ricardos Tomato and Strawberry farm is a 10-minute drive from Port Macquarie and is a really fun place to visit with kids. It only takes a few minutes to pick a kilo of strawberries so you don’t need to be there for long, or you can spend lots of time there doing the 11am tour (we missed this), eating at the café and sampling all their lovely local jams, relishes and pasta sauces.
With 2 kiddies, driving holidays are very appealing and Port Macquarie definitely fits the bill for a relaxing long weekend away. Have you been? What are your hot tips??