Endless golden beaches, lush hinterlands abundant with wildlife, fab food and wine and Australia’s best weather? What’s not to love about dazzling Port Macquarie, home to the Birpai Aboriginal peoples for millennia, and modern day tourist hotspot.
From high-adrenalin speed boat rides to gentle river cruises and wild water parks, historic theme parks to traditional Indigenous experiences, rainforest picnics to oceanside camel rides, there are so many things to do in Port Macquarie with kids that it’s impossible to get bored.
But with so much to see and do, where to start? Here are 20 of our favourite things to do in Port Macquarie with kids to get you started.
Things to do in Port Macquarie with kids
1. Take the Port Macquarie Coastal Walk
The nine-kilometre Coastal Walk from Port Macquarie’s Town Green to Lighthouse Beach is one of Australia’s most spectacular coastal walks. The track passes historic Flagstaff Hill along the stunning Port Macquarie coastline and its excellent lookouts provide the perfect vantage point for spotting migrating whales from early winter through to spring.
2. Catch a wave in Port Macquarie
There are 17 dazzling beaches in Greater Port Macquarie, each as beautiful as the last, so finding a secluded spot to pull up a patch of sand is easy. Surfers are spoiled for choice with plenty of epic breaks along the coastline and there are several excellent surf schools to help get your kids taming the waves.
3. Check out the artwork at the Breakwall
Take a stroll along the Breakwall at Town Beach where a collage of colourful messages, tributes and memories from visitors and locals decorate the rocks. It is also a great spot to enjoy sunrise and sunset.
4. Visit Port Macquarie’s kid friendly beaches
Flynn Beach is popular with both surfers and families and Town Beach boasts a skate park and playground for the little ones. My little one loves Shelly Beach, which is especially good for younger kids as there is a protected swimming hole with few waves, plus plenty of facilities including barbecues and accessible toilets.
5. Ride a camel on Lighthouse Beach
At Lighthouse Beach kids can enjoy more than just the sand and sea. A close encounter with a camel is a highlight of a visit to Port Macquarie. My kids love a camel ride and quickly helmet up and wave us goodbye as they plod happily off along the nine kilometre stretch of golden sand, returning giddy (and a little smelly) from their experience.
6. Care for koalas in Port Macquarie with kids
The world’s first hospital dedicated solely to the care and preservation of koalas, the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital helped hundreds of injured koalas during the summer fires.The hospital’s treatment room, eight Intensive Care Units, 24 Hour Rescue and Treatment operation and multiple recovery yards are funded by community support and daily tours where kids can meet some of the sick and injured residents.
7. Bounce into Billabong Zoo
The multi award-winning Billabong Zoo is a privately-owned conservation zoo with a host of Australian and exotic animals. My kids found the keeper talks at the lion, cheetah and snow leopard enclosures fascinating. They flirted with mischievous monkeys, fed kangaroos, stole slobbery kisses from a rare white dingo and helped to feed and learn about koalas with the zoo’s excellent koala breeding programme.
8. Follow the Hello Koala Sculpture Trail
If your kids are craving even more koala, take them on a treasure hunt along the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail to find the 57 colourful, metre-high sculptures of the much loved marsupials that are scattered throughout the city, each celebrating the region and the outstanding work of the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.
9. Discover Port Macquarie’s past
The award-winning Port Macquarie Museum boasts 14 fascinating rooms of photography, displays and artefacts to further showcase the story of Port Macquarie’s past, including its Indigenous beginnings as the home of the Birpai people, its settlement as a British penal colony right through to its modern incarnation as a thriving tourist town.
10. Catch up on culture at the Glasshouse Arts Centre
View the archaeological remains of Port Macquarie’s fascinating past at the Glasshouse Arts, Conference and Entertainment Centre where kids can also learn about life in the early penal settlement of Port Macquarie and listen to the important stories of the area’s traditional custodians, the Birpai people.
11. Learn about local Indigenous culture
For more Indigenous culture, head on a specialised Aboriginal cultural tour or Bush Tucker tour through the rainforest at nearby Sea Acres Rainforest Centre at Shelley Beach, which also boasts a stroller and wheelchair friendly elevated 1.3-kilometre rainforest boardwalk through pristine subtropical rainforest.
12. Fill up on fruit at Ricardoes
Ricardoes Tomatoes & Strawberries is the place for families to refuel. Enjoy a delicious lunch at Red Restaurant or stop in for fluffy scones with house-made strawberry jam before heading out to the latticed strawberry patches and tomato vines to fill buckets with fresh fruit.
13. Go for gold at Timbertown with kids
If you prefer your adventures on the mild side, experience the life of early settlers at Timbertown, a heritage theme park with farmyard animals, work horse and bullock demonstrations where the kids can learn to crack a whip and pan for gold and gemstones at the water wheel.
14. Slip into Stoney Aqua Park with kids
Kids will love donning a mandatory life vests to tackle the inflatable, overwater arena at Stoney Aqua Park. But be warned it isn’t as easy as it looks, and you’ll be skidding, sliding and wiping out, Ninja Warrior Style, on every one of the crazy obstacles, giant slides, trampolines and blast bags that the floating playground throws at them. But you’ll do it with a huge smile on your face.
15. Climb the walls at Centre of Gravity
My kids adore Centre of Gravity Indoor Adventure Centre, an indoor climb centre with a difference. On Saturday nights the place comes alive with fog machines, music and lasers lighting up the walls. There’s an area upstairs for younger climbers and more extreme climbs, caving, Darkzone laser skirmish and the heart-in-mouth thrills of the Leap of Faith, a seven-metre high jump out and up onto a swinging trapeze.
16. Hike along the Rainforest Loop
Take a hike along the Rainforest Loop around the top of North Brother Mountain in the stunning Dooragan National Park. The relatively easy walk is great for families offering 360-degree vistas, a sublime suspended gallery of bird’s nest ferns and a vertiginous picnic amongst the treetops.
17. Get lost at Bago Vineyard and Maze
Just out of town near Wauchope in the Port Macquarie hinterland is the greatest place to get lost, literally, Bago Vineyard and Maze. Not only can you stock up on their fabulous Bago Spritzy Rose and Baba Lila chocolates at the cellar door, you can throw yourself into NSW’s largest hedge maze. But a word of advice, if you’re as hopeless as us, you might want to leave an hour to find your way out again.
18. Hire a BBQ boat
For a special family day out hire a hire a BBQ Boat at the Dunbogan Boatshed and Marina. No license is required, just pack your fishing rods, grab bait and tackle at the marina and kick back on board one of their BBQ boats, and enjoy a sizzling lunch as you drift down the pretty Camden Haven River.
19. Take a Chinese Junk cruise on the Hastings River
Head out on a two-hour tour of the Hastings River on a restored vintage Chinese Junk on a morning tea scenic cruise, delicious fish and chip lunch cruise or a spectacular sunset cruise. Keep a look out for Port Macquarie’s friendly dolphins as well as Humpback whales during the migration season.
20. Feel the need for speed with PortJet
Shoot along the beautiful coastline from the North Shore to Lighthouse Beach at 100km/hr on one of the fastest commercial boats in NSW with PortJet. Just be prepared for blow your hair back acceleration, stomach churning wave jumping, hair-raising turns and loads of squeal inducing fun.
Getting to Port Macquarie
Located almost halfway between Sydney and Brisbane, Port Macquarie is easily accessible by car, bus, train and plane.