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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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.
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