There’s so much to enjoy in Port Macquarie. Home to stunning coastline, pristine beaches, protected rainforest and a local koala population, Port Macquarie on the NSW Mid-North Coast is a dream destination for families, outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers, beach combers and those looking to get off the beaten track. Here’s our local guide of the top things to do in Port Macquarie.
Port Macquarie in Northern NSW is a short 4-hour drive north of Sydney. It’s a coastal haven that offers stunning landscapes, plenty of adventures in the great outdoors and the chance to unwind and relax as a family. The Cassegrain family have been making wine in the region since 1980, when we planted our first vineyard, now supplying wines to many of the local venues and with a popular Cellar Door a short drive from the centre of town. Here’s our local insider’s guide of the top things to do in Port Macquarie.
Family Friendly Activities
Port Macquarie has plenty to offer the young and young at heart.
- Port Macquarie Koala Hospital
The summer 2019/2020 bushfires put the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital in the global spotlight. You can book a tour of the hospital, which features a nature reserve where these native marsupials can learn to climb again. You can also explore the organisation’s conservation efforts in the region. An unforgettable experience, but please remember that bookings are essential.
- Billabong Zoo
Animal lovers can also visit Billabong Zoo, a koala and wildlife park that’s home to more than 80 species of mammals, reptiles and birds.
- Port Macquarie Horse Riding Centre
Port Macquarie Horse Riding Centre is located on the picturesque Cassegrain Wines property. There are trail rides for all levels and pony rides for the kids, as well as school holiday camps, riding lessons and even a romantic Brunch and Bubbles ride and dine package. When you’re done, kick back for the farm-to-table experience at Two Triple Four Restaurant or head to the Cellar Door for a wine tasting.
- Port Macquarie Camels
A camel safari Port Macquarie Camels at Lighthouse Beach is another way to get up close and personal with our other four-legged friends. They don’t take bookings, so you’ll find the caravan at Lighthouse Beach along Matthew Flinders Drive, 1km south of the Tacking Point Surf Club.
- Golf and Mini Golf
The region is a golfer’s paradise, with plenty of golfing options. Close to Cassegrain Wines, you’ll find the Port Macquarie Golf Range, which has a popular mini golf course, so the whole family can join in the fun. Alternatively, Hydro Golf gives you the chance to test your swing over the lake and there’s a 27-hole putt-putt golf course on site, too.
- Ricardoes Tomato and Strawberry Farm
Pick your own fresh berries at Ricardoes Tomato and Strawberry Farm, where they have more than 30,000 plants growing in their huge greenhouse, with plenty of plants to harvest at ground level for the kids. Entry is free – you collect your bucket on the way in and pay only for what you pick. Check the website to make sure that there’s something in season.
Located in nearby Wauchope, Timbertown is a heritage theme park that recreates a turn-of-the-century working timber settlement. There’s a steam train, working blacksmith, bullock team and carriage rides, and you can pan for gold and learn to crack a stockman’s whip just like they used to in the old days.
It’s no secret Port Macquarie is an excellent fishing destination with something for all levels of enthusiasts, from pros to amateurs. Hire a boat or book in for a deep-sea fishing safari with Port Macquarie Fishing Charters and try your luck at snagging a snapper, mulloway, kingfish or flathead. If you’re venturing slightly further afield, head to the Camden Haven River and hire a boat or kayak from the Dunbogan Boat Shed.
- Livvi’s Place Playground
Livvi’s Place Playground is a family destination and a playground with an inspiring story. Having lost their young daughter Olivia to a rare illness, Justine and John Perkins set out to create inclusive playgrounds for children of all ages and abilities. The Port Macquarie space opened in December 2014 and is wheelchair accessible. There’s space to set up a picnic while the children play on the pirate ship. Be sure to pack a change of clothes for the kids as there are water fountains for them to splash around in.
Wine and Beer Trail
A tasting trail that takes in locally made craft beer and wine. The Mid-North Coast may not be as famous as other wine-making regions in NSW, so it may come as a surprise that we work with NSW growers to source some of our grapes, as well as with those from further afield across the state, from the Hunter Valley to Tumbarumba.
Our wine experiences at Cassegrain Wines include vertical tastings, as well as cheese and chocolate wine pairings at our picturesque Cellar Door. Make it a family day out with a long lunch at TwoTripleFour Restaurant on the estate while the kids enjoy a horse ride or pony ride on our property.
- Bago Maze and Winery
Bago Maze and Winery is another local winery. It is also home to one of the world’s largest hedge mazes – a stunning architecturally designed native Lilly Pilly maze with over 2000m of pathways, bridges and hedges. Here they serve platters of local cheese and charcuterie with their wines. Note: platters are limited, so bookings are recommended.
- Innes Lakes Vineyards, Douglas Vale Historic Homestead and Vineyard, Long Point Vineyard and Art Gallery
Other local vineyards to visit include Innes Lakes Vineyards for Mediterranean fare and local wines in an upscale setting overlooking the vines and stunning gardens.
As the name suggests, Douglas Vale Historic Homestead and Vineyard is a heritage museum and working vineyard. Here you can enjoy a free tour of the 1862 homestead with its eclectic artefacts and outbuildings, then taste the six limited release wines – their famous Portabella is grown from 150 year old Isabella wine stock – and kick back in the garden with a picnic or one of their cheese platters. Another winery that’s great to visit with a family is Long Point Vineyard and Art Gallery, a charming spot to experience local wine, art and produce from the Hastings region. The views are spectacular from the deck, where you can enjoy a cheese platter with a bottle of wine, before exploring the sculpture garden.
- Black Duck Brewery
Craft beer aficionados can head to Black Duck Brewery, which has a cool industrial setting and relaxed atmosphere. It’s open Wednesday to Saturday, and Fridays are Pizza Night (often with live music too). Bookings are essential.
- Wicked Elf Beer
You may recognise this local boutique brewery as Cassegrain’s beer partner for their annual Oysters in the Vines event. Go for the tasting board to try their Pale Ale, IPA, Porter and a Summer Kolsch, then snap up a couple of surprise seasonal brews to take home. Looking for other places around town to sip their brews? You can check their website for the handy beer finder that locates local venues and bottle shops selling their delicious craft beers.
- Moore Beer Brewing
Another must-visit for beer fans is Moore Beer Brewing. The brewery is open to the public Friday to Sunday. They offer 10 beers on tap as well as a tasting paddle and a menu of epic drink-friendly burgers. Their IPA won gold at the Australian International Beer Awards and you can find their brews on tap at Twotriplefour restaurant within our Cassegrain Wines Estate as well as plenty of venues in town.
Exploring the Great Outdoors
It’s hard not to miss Port Macquarie’s iconic breakwall with its brightly painted coloured rocks on the way into town, and the coastline is certainly a drawcard for the area. So many talented artists making their mark!
- The Port Macquarie Coastal Walk
The Port Macquarie Coastal Walk is a great way to take in the region’s stunning scenery, weaving through beaches and rainforest. The 9km walking track starts at Westport Park and follows the Hastings River, leading along the coastline to the headland where Tacking Point Lighthouse, one of the region’s most distinctive sights, stands tall against the horizon.
- Diamond Head Loop Walk
Soak up more stunning coastline on the 4.3km Diamond Head Loop Walk through Crowdy Bay National Park. Starting at Diamond Head campground, you’ll link up with the headland walking track and forest walking track, passing through heath and forests of paperbark and swamp mahogany. Scan the waters for dolphins at Kylie’s lookout before you hit the sparkling quartz cliffs at Diamond Head that give the area its name.
- Sea Acres Rainforest Boardwalk
If you’re on the coastal walk, be sure to take the detour from Shelly Beach to Sea Acres Rainforest Boardwalk. It’s a gentle 1.3km walk on a rainforest boardwalk that rises seven metres through the leafy forest understorey to the canopy above. The littoral rainforest is great for getting up and close to nature and for bird-watching and is wheelchair accessible.
- Old Bottlebutt
Another rainforest boardwalk leads to ‘Old Bottlebutt‘, a soaring 200-year-old Red Bloodwood tree located in Burrawan State Forest. At 16-metres tall, she’s the largest of her kind on record, with a unique bulbous shape to boot, hence her nickname! You can find her on the beautiful 600m loop walking track from Burrawan picnic area.
- Bird Tree Picnic Area
Bird Tree picnic area offers access to some of the largest blackbutt trees in NSW, with a short trail that’s perfect for walking with children and plenty of shaded places to picnic. Located in Middle Brother National Park, which may appear small from the outside, you’ll find two big surprises within the park. Surviving years of local logging, Bird Tree and Benaroon are two of the largest blackbutts in the state and Bird Tree picnic area is the ideal place to visit these imposing giants, with a short loop through old-growth forest that’s easy for all ages and levels of fitness.
- North Brother Mountain
For walking trails and picnic spots with a birds-eye view, head to Dooragan National Park. Here, North Brother Mountain is a great way to see the area and watch the paragliders and hang-gliders as they launch from the summit. At ground level, the picnic lawn is the perfect place to relax and unwind while enjoying the view. Easy accessibility and an abundance of trails and walks suiting all fitness levels are a drawcard for families.
- Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail
The Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail is an iconic local attraction that brings awareness to this iconic and endangered local fauna. The trail is made up of 70-plus larger-than-life fibreglass koala sculptures, featuring original hand-painted designs by local artists. The sculptures are scattered across Port Macquarie and the trail is a great way to keep the kids entertained with a koala hunt. You’ll find the sculptures at a load of locations from the Glasshouse Arts and Visitor Centre to the Sea Acres Rainforest Centre – and don’t forget to look for the one at our Cassegrain Cellar Door!
- Ellenborough Falls
Set in the lush Port Macquarie hinterland, Ellenborough Falls is the tallest single drop waterfall in NSW and one of the tallest in southern hemisphere. From Port Macquarie, you get there by going through the beautiful unspoilt plateau and regional town of Comboyne in the Port Macquarie-Wauchope hinterlands. There are plenty of ways to experience Ellenborough Falls depending on your fitness level: at the top of the falls near the carpark you’ll find easy boardwalks and viewing decks to take in the thundering glory of the 200m waterfall, and for the adventurous, a steep set of steps leads to the rockpool at its base.
For the Adventure Seekers
For thrill-seekers, there’s plenty to get the blood pumping from high-octane water sports to fly-over tours.
- Reach the sky
After you explore the region’s many walking tracks, buckle in and see the famous coastline from a different perspective in a breathtaking helicopter tour. Favourite local operators include Affinity Aviation, who offer 30-minute scenic flights and shorter 15 minute express flights over the region depending on your schedule.
- Port Macquarie Helicopters
Port Macquarie Helicopters also offer a bird’s eye view of the famous Mid-North Coast. Southbound flights take in Tacking Point Lighthouse, Lighthouse Beach, Lake Cathie and Bonny Hills; inland you’ll see the picturesque town of Wauchope and return along the Hastings River to Port Macquarie; while the northbound route tracks along the beautiful North Shore, Point Plomer, Big Hill Point and up to Crescent Head.
Catch a wave with a surfing lesson at Soul Surfing. Owners, locals Corey and Loren Enfield, offer classes for all levels, as well as specialised kids’ and women’s-only classes.
- Whale Watching
Whale watching, ocean blasts, jet ski tours and river cruising… the water world options abound at Port Jet Cruise Adventures. Hit top-speed and ride the swell in The Ocean Blast – an unforgettable 40-minute ride along the coastline, from the North Shore to Lighthouse Beach, in one of the fastest commercial boats in NSW with amazing acceleration and giant turns. Here you can also hire a jet ski, or enjoy a calmer pace and dolphin-spotting aboard one of their river cruises that meanders along the Hastings River.
Need more Port Macquarie local tips?
Read our related articles on Where to Stay and Where to Eat and Drink in Port Macquarie. Alternatively, check out the Port Macquarie Regional Tourism Information for the up to date events.
If you are in the area, we’d love to see you at our Cellar Door for a wine tasting. Come and enjoy The Taste of NSW for yourself with a range of different wines sourced from across our home state.