Port Macquarie

Tacking Point Lighthouse, Port Macquarie

Port Macquarie is a large Australian town on the New South Wales Mid North Coast, approximately 400 km north of Sydney.

Get in

By plane

QANTAS provides up to three flights per day from Kingsford Smith International Airport, on Dash 8 (or similar Turboprop driven) aircraft. The flight to or from Sydney takes about an hour.

Virgin Australia operates a low cost service, several flights daily, to and from both Sydney and Brisbane.

Bookings for both can be handled online or at most Qantas offices. During the middle of the year and in holiday times, flights into and out of Port Macquarie are quite easy to get seats on, however, early bookings are highly recommended for flights in school holidays, especially the summer break.

Flights to other regional or capital cities are not currently available directly from Port Macquarie, but connecting flights are very easy to get in Sydney.

By bus

Both Greyhound and Premier Motor Service run multiple daily bus services to and from Port Macquarie to and from Sydney and Brisbane.

Sydney buses arrive and depart Central Railway Station in Central Sydney and take approximately 8h to travel between Port Macquarie and Sydney. Brisbane buses depart and arrive at the Roma St Transit Centre in Central Brisbane and take approximately 10h to cover the distance.

In Port Macquarie, all buses drop off at the Port Macquarie Coach Station on the southern side of the Central Business District (CBD). The main shopping area is located within easy walking distance from this station, and some hostels, hotels and a caravan park are located within a distance that you could walk if have not too much luggage. Otherwise, the coach station has a public phone to call a taxi, or hotel for pick up, but most hotel owners and taxi drivers know when the buses arrive and will be waiting for you anyway.

By train

Port Macquarie does not have a railway station, but approximately 20min west of Port Macquarie is Wauchope, which is serviced by the North Coast Railway Line.

Services to Wauchope originate at Central Station in Sydney and take around 7 h. Wauchope is serviced by three trains a day from Sydney. One train terminates at Grafton, another terminates at Casino, and a third continues to Brisbane.

NSW Trainlink Rail Services arriving or departing during the day and the early afternoon are connected to Port Macquarie by bus, which must be booked at the same time as booking your rail ticket. (This bus drops off at Port Macquarie Coach Station). Services departing or arriving early in the morning or late at night are more of a challenge, as this connection is not available, and no public transport services Wauchope at this time.

Then, you have to stay in Wauchope (some cheap hotels are located west of the station, and some motor inns are located some way farther west as well) or get a taxi back to Port Macquarie, which can be extremely expensive. For this reason, arrival by rail at these times is not recommended.

By car

Port Macquarie is on the Oxley Highway to the east of the Pacific Highway, which is the major north-south highway in NSW.

When travelling from the south (Sydney) you will see an exit sign pointing to Wauchope/Walcha/Port Macquarie on the left hand side of the road. Take this exit, turn RIGHT at the large roundabout (called "The Doughnut" by locals), and follow this road (Oxley HWY) into all the way into central Port Macquarie where it terminates.

When travelling from the north you will enter an 80 km/h zone and cross the Hastings River over a bridge signposted as Dennis Bridge. After crossing the bridge, the exit is located immediately to the left. Follow this road (Hastings River Drive) all the way into town.

Note that an alternative route from the south is available which is quite scenic. When travelling from Sydney, turn right at the set of traffic lights in the small town on the highway called Kew. Follow this road for about 10 minutes until you see a sign pointing left saying "Port Macquarie". Follow this road into town.

This route takes about 45min to get to Port Macquarie, but it is worth it for the scenery including North Brother Mountain, Middle Rock Beach and The Christmas Bell Plains. A tourist information board is in Kew for you to check this route and confirm it before taking it. You should also avoid taking this road after dark, as it is notorious for wildlife on the road, and numerous accidents have been caused by kangaroos.

Get around

Unfortunately, Port Macquarie does not have a reliable or useful public transport system which can make getting around difficult. While buses may run to most places, they often run at odd times, and terminate early in the day. The most useful bus route is the Shelly Beach - Town Centre route, which seems to run quite regularly, and is the best way of those without a car getting to the beaches and lighthouse. Other than this, don't bother with the public transport, it isn't worth the aggravation.

Fortunately, Port Macquarie has a great many places to walk to from the Town Centre. From here you can quite easily walk to many beaches and some attractions. Because it has such a compact CBD, you won't have to walk far to get to restaurants, shops and pubs if you stay in town, or nearby.

See

Port Macquarie has an interesting history. Being the first English convict settlement outside of Sydney and the Hunter it has a few historical sites and museums.

Do

Unfortunately, most of the amusement parks in Port Macquarie have now closed down, and show no signs of re-opening. Port Macquarie is still blessed with numerous great beaches:

Buy

Eat

Budget

Mid Range

Central Port Macquarie has plenty of high quality mid range cafes and most days you can just turn up and get a table. Here are some of the best:

Splurge

There are so many mid range places in Port Macquarie that serve food of a high range standard, that it's almost not worth the extra effort. If you must eat at a high range place, here are a couple:

By far the regions premier seafood restaurant, placed over the Hastings River. Has live crabs and lobsters along with fresh local produce. Fish feeding is possible from their balcony seats and private jetty.

The hidden restaurant, that food lovers should not miss. Owner and Chef Lindsay Schwab has one many awards and travelled to many countries and taken a small piece of everyone and combined them into his culinary skills. Using the freshest local produce when he can he creates flavours, textures and dining delights to die for. Licenced premises, consistent quality food and service.

Drink

Port Macquarie is a great place for beachside relaxation, or a family holiday, but a haven for nightlife, it is not. Compared to most other towns of similar size along the east coast of Australia, the pubs and clubs in Port Macquarie are quite substandard. Below are some of the better ones.

Sleep

Port Macquarie has an excellent choice of motels, hotels, resorts, guest houses, traditional B&Bs, backpacker hostels and apartments.

Stay safe

On Friday and Saturday nights, avoid the main street as there are often brawls. Mostly this occurs as people are making their way from the Macquarie Hotel to Roxy's. You'll often see large groups of 18-25 year-olds being hostile towards random passers-by. Other places to avoid late at night are the Town Green, and the area surrounding the McDonald's carpark (near Settlement City.)

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, October 04, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.