Last time I was in Port Macquarie was decades ago as a teenager travelling to Sydney with my parents. The road trip wasn’t arduous, but a stopover was always favourably welcomed. En route we always overnighted at Port Macquarie – it was a good half-way destination to stretch your legs, grab a bite to eat and settle in for a decent night’s sleep.
After too many years, Monty and I were on our way back to Newcastle for a family reunion; Port Macquarie was earmarked as our stopover.
Located at the mouth of the Hastings River, this New South Wales coastal destination holds the trump card when it comes to beauty with its pristine beaches and rainforest boardwalk. It’s an eclectic mix: part country town, part groovy Byron Bay-beach vibe. There are traffic lights but in the heart of the Port is a grid of mall-like streets traversed by local traffic and pedestrians so it’s wise to look before you step out from the curb.
Unaccustomed to the Port Macquarie accommodation scene tripadvisor provided the up-to-date information which led us to MidPacific Motel. An excellent choice – tripadvisor’s reviews were spot on.
We were greeted with a warm, friendly smile by Rosanna Cooke. I am assuming she and Angus Cooke are the managers as their names are on the motel’s business card.
When it comes to location, MidPacifc is planted right near the water front and in the heart of Port Macquarie’s retail and dining hub. From our room’s balcony on the second floor we watched boats and kyaks gliding smoothly across the pristine Hastings River.
After a good night’s sleep, we woke to the first day of spring. The sun’s rays were dancing on the glass-like river’s surface. The air was fresh and the sky the bluest-of-blues.
Breakfast is a must if you’re planning to go go go. LV on Clarence offers MidPacific guests 10% discount on breakfasts seven days a week 7am to 11.30am. Armed with a discount voucher compliments of MidPacific we headed up Clarence Street only to realise that we had walked in the wrong direction away from the waterfront. LV, located near the river, is a local favourite – so we discovered. At 8.00am there were no tables available and breakfast would be a 20-minute wait. As time wasn’t on our side, we had to forgo this popular bistro and settled for The Pepperberry a few doors up. Service and food were fine. No complaints.
What to do
- Soak up the beauty that surrounds you. A leisurely one and half walk along the foreshore from Port Macquarie to Tacking Point Lighthouse. This waterside stretch takes in all the beaches so make sure you’ve got your hat and sunscreen on, your bathers and a water bottle handy.
- For history buffs the walking tours are an interesting way to see the town and learn about its past. Two tours are on offer: the 2.5 hour “Uncovering Our Past” and the 1.5 hour “Grave Tales”. The history tour kicks off at 9.30am; Grave Tales commences at 2.00pm Both tours are Wednesday to Saturday (excluding public holidays). If you’re looking for insider stories on the history going back to 1821 when Port Macquarie was a British penal settlement and the 1500 soldiers, convicts and settlers then take both tours. Book direct (+61) 0447 429 016.
- Nature lovers searching for the tranquillity of a pristine subtropical rainforest should consider the elevated wonder walk. About 5km south of Port Macquarie town centre, at Sea Acres Rainforest Centre, 159 Pacific Drive near Shelly Beach, the rainforest boardwalk is wheelchair and stroller friendly. Entry is free. nationalparks.news.gov.au
- Sun worshippers and swimmers rejoice! Port Macquarie boasts a healthy handful of beaches: North Beach, Town Beach, Oxley Beach, Rocky Beach, Flynns Beach, Nobbys Beach, Shelly, Miners and Lighthouse Beaches.
- Market mayhem is the order of the day in Port Macquarie. Every Tuesday the Real Food Local Produce Markets will satiate your longing for the best of fresh produce. Follow it up with the Twilight Food Market every Saturday. Market bazaars are held every Thursday and Sunday. On the first Sunday of the month the Grown + Gathered Market is sure to please; every second Saturday the Foreshore Market features farmers produce and artists; the third Sunday is the Laurieton Riverwalk Market, the fourth Saturday Wauchope Farmers’ Markets and the fourth Sunday The Artist Markets. Literally something for everyone. portmacquarieinfo.com.au
Where to stay
Based on our experience, the MidPacific is the go-to accommodation. It is far enough away from the city swirl yet walking distance to everything. The waterfront location adds to the holiday vibe. It’s only two stories but there are lifts which facilitate easy access to the second floor.
Décor: White painted walls, floor to ceiling block out curtains, mini-kitchenette with the necessary appliances, TV with Foxtel, and free Wifi add to the pleasurable experience. Fresh white towels and linen, comfy bed and pillows.
Location: MidPacific Motel 71 Clarence Street, Port Macquarie www.motelmidpacific.com.au
Where to eat and drink
There’s a surprisingly healthy offer of good restaurants.
Dinner: Based on proximity, we ate at Town Green Inn at 6 Horton Street. A locals’ favourite, the service was swift, the food was more than adequate for pub grub but price-wise not sure it was value for money?
Breakfast: Lv’s on Clarence was humming. Head there first and but be early on the weekend. If Lv’s is full, The Pepperberry is good. It’s located on the corner of Clarence and Short Streets. We ordered our favourite: eggs benedict with poached eggs, double smoked ham on light rye sourdough, and topped with their house Hollandaise. For $16 there were no com