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Port Macquarie

Visiting Port Macquarie – The Eight Things to Do in Australia’s Former Convict Settlement

Port Macquarie has seen its share of tourist development. What was once a penal colony is now a top-rated tourist destination. You can have unique experiences in the town and the neighboring area.

It can be amazing to see how a former British convict settlement evolved over the years. Especially because it turned into a family-friendly town with lots of fun things to do. Of course, the scenery also helps elevate Port Macquarie to a hot tourist attraction.

But before visiting the town, you should know about the most popular things to do here. It’s the best way to fit everything worth doing in your itinerary and have enough time left to explore other things.

1.   Spend Time at the Beach

Port Macquarie Beaches

Australia is famous for its beaches and the ones around Port Macquarie are perhaps even more appealing than others. But if you don’t know what things to do in Port Macquarie, start by going to the beach. There are 17 of them in the region after all.

You can do anything here, from sunbathing to surfing powerful breaks. It’s also a great place to enjoy lovely walks along the shore. Or, take your family for a picnic in one of the less crowded beaches, such as Flynns Beach.

Town Beach is an excellent spot for surfing when the winds are in your favour. And Lake Cathie Beach offers a variety of toddler and kid-friendly entertainment areas.

2.   Interact with Koalas

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital

If you want to interact with the wildlife, then you can visit the Koala Hospital. Port Macquarie has one of the largest rehab centers for koalas in the country. This hospital also doubles as a research center, with its goal being to address the endangered status of this mammal species.

It’s also one of the many free things to do in Port Macquarie. The entire institution runs thanks mostly to the volunteer staff. You can even watch live treatments through a secure window. And you can also stroll through the yard and see healthier koalas go about their lives.

And if you want, you can also adopt a koala from the hospital.

3.   Visit the Sea Acres National Park

Port Macquarie Sea Acres National Park

Take some time to admire the vegetation that the town has to offer. One of the best things to do in Port Macquarie is walking the Rainforest Boardwalk. Located in the Sea Acres National Park, it forms a loop that allows you to see the most of the reserve.

The dense rainforest environment is gorgeous. You can see everything from native orchids to ferns, ironwood trees, and more. You can also learn about how the Aboriginal people harvested many of the plants for food.

The reserve has many birds and reptiles too, including the iconic Land Mullet. The park is one of the best places to catch sight of one of these reptiles. You can walk around the boardwalk on your own or partake in a guided tour.

4.   Visit the Glasshouse

Port Macquarie Glasshouse

Inspiring to look at from the outside, the Glasshouse offers even more on the inside. It’s a venue for the performing arts, as well as a conference center. It’s essentially the cultural hub of the town. You can also go here to buy your souvenirs.

Once here, check out one of the rotating art exhibitions. The artwork on display covers everything from Aboriginal pieces to contemporary art. There are also touring exhibitions all year round and many workshops that you can attend.

5.   Learn About the History of the Town

Port Macquarie Port Macquarie Museum

Port Macquarie started out as a convict settlement. But how did it go from a penal colony to one of the hottest holiday destinations in Australia? You can learn about that at the Port Macquarie Museum. It’s one of the coolest things to do in Port Macquarie for families or groups.

The exhibits are informative but also very fun, which is why kids can enjoy them, too. Many displays show costumes and tools used by the earliest settlers. The exhibits also tell a detailed story of the town’s history. And the museum adds new exhibits all the time, just to keep things fresh.

6.   Go on a Cruise

Port Macquarie Humpback whale

There are many reasons to take a cruise. Leisure comes to mind first, then sightseeing. But some Port Macquarie cruises are more memorable. If you want to go whale watching, then a cruise gives you your best chance to see whales up close.

Humpback whale are most common. But you can also spot some bottlenose dolphins and southern right whales, with the latter often coming to give birth in the shallower bays. The area surrounding the town also gives you an opportunity to see wildlife you usually see only on TV.

7.   Visit the Billabong Zoo

Port Macquarie-Billabong-Zoo

The Koala Hospital is a very specific institution. But for more varied wildlife, you can visit Billabong Zoo. It’s one of the most popular attractions for both tourists and locals. Here you can see crocodiles, pandas, possums, and even penguins among many other animals.

Take a guided tour or stroll through the zoo at your own pace. See how the staff feeds various animals in their care. Watch various shows and fun activities that some animals engage in.

It’s a very lively place ideal to take your kids on a family vacation.

8.    Tour the Ricardoes U-Pick Farm

Port Macquarie Ricardoes U Pick Farm

Another one of the great Port Macquarie tours is at the Ricardoes U-Pick Farm. It’s a massive hit with the locals, and more tourists also flock to it also each year. Add that it’s a place that you can enter and tour for free.

You can even pick your own strawberries and tomatoes at a cost. Aside from marvelling at the hydroponic setup, the farm also has a gift shop if you want to take home with you some authentic chutneys, pasta sauces, ice cream, and so many other goods.

Port Macquarie Is an Excellent Family Vacation Spot

Port Macquarie is home to amazing surf breaks.

But it also has more family-friendly attractions than similar Australian destinations. And you can interact with the environment in many ways. At the same time, you can learn about the history of the place and satisfy your need for cultural growth.

There’s a bit of everything for everyone to enjoy. That’s why Port Macquarie is a must-see Australian town.

Port Macquarie

Why Visit Port Macquarie – Eight Reasons to Book That Trip

There are so many great Australian tourist destinations. But what makes Port Macquarie so different? It covers all the bases for tourists of all ages and provides both leisure and excitement.

If sightseeing is your main purpose, then this town is a lovely place to visit. One of the best things to do in Port Macquarie is just admiring your surroundings. But there’s more to this somewhat hidden gem.

For starters, you can engage in a vast range of activities on your own. Or take part in guided tours to take in the culture and history of the place.

Here are some incentives that might help you understand why you need to book this trip.

Reason #1 – Experience the Evolution of the Town

Port Macquarie Evolution

One of the top reasons to visit the town of Port Macquarie is its history. Like many other Australian cities, it started out as a convict settlement. Over time, however, it has evolved beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

The town is now a world-famous tourist destination spot. It may not yet be as famous as Sydney, but it’s popular enough nonetheless.

The locals did a great job of showcasing the natural beauty of the region, all while maintaining many of its local natural wonders. It’s always awe-inspiring to see how a place with such a dark history can turn things around.

Reason #2 – Interact with Wildlife

Port Macquarie Wildlife

There are many places in Australia where you can see iconic indigenous animals. But Port Macquarie goes one step further to involve tourists. Because at the zoo, you can even feed some of the animals and see the employees interact and play with them.

At the Koala Hospital, you can watch dedicated volunteers in action as they save the lives of threatened koalas. You can even go whale-watching and spot dolphins in their natural habitats. The wildlife experience is immersive and very fulfilling.

Also, you can do some camel riding here. The beach camel safari offers one of the coolest adventures around. You may think that this is something you only get to do in the desert, but in Port Macquarie begs to differ. And if you visit sometime in May and up to November, you can even do some dolphin-spotting on the way.

Reason #3 – Enjoy Some of the Best Australian Beaches

Port Macquarie Beaches

Port Macquarie has 17 beaches – no wonder exploring them’s one of the best things to do in Port Macquarie. But what’s there to do, you ask? Anything you want.

You can have picnics on the beach, surf, or go snorkeling. Fancy long walks around the shoreline? You can do that here on its powdery stretches of sand. Few beaches are very crowded, so you have plenty of choices if you want to relax.

Most beaches also have calm waters, which creates a more family-friendly setting. You can also have a picnic on the beach and spend most of your day there if you want. The clean beaches and gorgeous scenery are among the top reasons to visit Port Macquarie.

Reason #4 – Take Amazing Cruises

Port Macquarie Amazing Cruises

There are so many cruises you can take to the town and back. A cruise is always a good way to blow off steam, whether for some pampering or to spend more time on the ocean.

Another reason to take a cruise from Port Macquarie is for sightseeing and whale-watching. The town’s geographic location makes it an ideal location to spot whales and dolphins. Some whales even get very close to shore and give birth to baby whales in shallow bays.

While it may not be easy to swim with the dolphins, you can get close enough to watch packs of them from a boat.

Reason #5 – It Has a Rainforest

Port Macquarie Sea Acres Rainforest

Port Macquarie also has a rainforest preserve. If you love nature, then you simply have to take a walk through the reserve. The boardwalk loops around the reserve and immerses you in the rainforest.

There are few better and safer ways to experience ancient fauna. Or to breathe in some of the cleanest air on the planet. Maybe even spot very rare native reptiles and birds.

It may not be Australia’s largest rainforest reserve, but it’s set up in such a way that tourists can easily get around with or without a tour guide.

Reason #6 – Many of the Attractions Are Free

 Port Macquarie Attractions Are Free

Another reason to visit the town is the abundance of free attractions. There are free things to do in Port Macquarie, such as taking tours – including the ones that take you through the reserve.

Even visiting the Koala Hospital is free of charge, although the institution greatly appreciates donations. After all, most of the staff are volunteers.

Accommodations are also cheaper than in other top Australian tourist spots.

Reason #7 – It’s a Safe Town

Port Macquarie Safe Town

Compared to many other Australian cities, Port Macquarie is one of the safest. It’s a great place to live and maybe even better to visit.

If you want to take a family vacation, the very low crime rate is an incentive. The town thrives on tourism so it incentivizes the locals to accommodate tourists. No wonder you’ll be met by the friendly attitude of the residents.

Reason #8 – It’s Very Family and Kid-Friendly

Port Macquarie Family and Kid Friendly

The town offers a variety of interactive activities. Kids can have fun go-karting or play tennis. There is also a mini-golf course and a rock-climbing course.

Many of the land-based activities can accommodate tourists with kids. Of course, there’s something for adventurous adults, too. That’s because you can find paragliding and skydiving adventures in the area.

With that said, catching a bird’s eye view of the town and its surroundings is yet another incentive to visit.

A Former Penal Colony Turned Tourist’s Paradise

Port Macquarie weather is generally quite good. If you visit between May and November, you get the best chance to experience everything the place has to offer.

It may not be Australia’s most well-known attraction but it’s still a small slice of heaven. It’s an ideal family vacation spot with plenty of thrilling adventure opportunities, too.

Port Macquarie’s definitely worth at least a stop if you’re not going to make it your primary destination.

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