Whether you’re looking for a romantic escape or an action-packed break with your mates, the booming northern New South Wales coastal town of Port Macquarie has lots to offer.
Cafés and The Stunned Mullet in Port Macquarie, NSW
Staying at the Mantra Observatory Hotel, close to Port Macquarie’s Town Beach, you’ll wake to ocean views and a choice of cafés to enjoy a leisurely breakfast.
Downstairs at street level, Milkbar Town Beach is a bustling little café that serves single origin coffee, wood-fired sourdough bread, locally sourced free range eggs and Ricardoes tomatoes. If you fancy a morning stroll, follow part of the lovely 9-kilometre Port Macquarie coastal walk over to The Sandbox (previously Purno’s on the Beach) at Flynns Beach.
Continue the day in active fashion with an exhilarating horse ride at the edge of the surf on North Shore Beach or an amble through coastal rainforest along the 1.3-kilometre elevated boardwalk at Sea Acres, followed by coffee and cake at the Rainforest Café.
Alternatively, you can take your partner up, up and away on a scenic seaplane flight over the coastline, possibly combined with splashing down for lunch at a romantic waterfront restaurant. But as The Stunned Mullet, the region’s only hatted restaurant, is literally on the doorstep of Town Beach, you don’t have to go that far for a long, indulgent lunch. Presided over by Canadian owner Lou Perri, the restaurant has one of regional NSW’s most impressive wine lists, drawn from around the world.
Wineries and Glasshouse Port Macquarie Theatre in Port Macquarie, NSW
Port Macquarie’s locally produced wine isn’t bad either, with vineyards such as Cassegrain and Bago worth the short drive inland. Bago Vineyards, surrounded by eucalypt forest and farmland, is particularly scenic, and features a 10,000-square-metre hedge maze in which you can try not to lose your lover. Bago has jazz in the vineyards on the second Sunday of the month and its cellar door stocks a terrific selection of local produce.
Back in town you can warm up for a show at the excellent Glasshouse Port Macquarie theatre, which hosts everything from touring ballet performances to concerts. Stop for a light bite at the Botanic Wine Garden, or head to the Hastings riverside for sunset tapas at another recently opened restaurant-bar, the Latin Loafer.
Restaurants around Port Macquarie, NSW
Port Macquarie’s varied list of eateries includes some lovely romantic dining venues. Try the atmospheric Drury Lane Eatery; or The Corner Restaurant, where the seafood chowder will help you end the day on a high.
Above The Corner, which is a good breakfast venue too, is the Macquarie Waters Boutique Apartment Hotel, whose well-equipped apartments, outdoor heated pool (including a ‘dive-in’ cinema), and rooftop spa make it an excellent location to catch up with your pals.
From here, most of Port Macquarie’s happening bars are within walking distance. These include Social Grounds that, with its graffiti wall and lively vibe, could have been transplanted straight from a Melbourne laneway, and Chop & Chill, boasting a wide selection of cocktails, wines, champagne, spirits, tap and bottled beer.
After a morning surf or swim at Town Beach, the Salty Crew Kiosk is perfect for a laidback brekkie – the sea breeze and an array of smoothies will aid recovery from the night before.
Things to do in Port Macquarie, NSW
You should then be ready to dare and out-dare your mates on an adrenaline-soaked activity. From jetboat rides along the Hastings River to tandem paragliding off coastal cliffs and skydiving, the Port Macquarie region is surprisingly well-armed to quench a thirst for adventure.
If that sounds too strenuous, then hiring a barbecue boat from Dunbogan Boatshed to cruise and fish Camden Haven River might be the go. On Sunday mornings, a camel-riding safari – inherently hilarious thanks to the cartoon-like nature of the vehicles – is also possible, on Port Macquarie’s Lighthouse Beach.
Restaurants, bars and breweries in Port Macquarie, NSW
Back in town you can join The Burger Rebellion for lunch, working your way through a wide selection of burgers in buns or bowls and rounding it off with an ice cream sandwich.
An afternoon brewery tour now beckons. Head to Black Duck Brewery, tucked away in an industrial estate, for some of the best craft beer on the NSW north coast. There’s live entertainment, great food and of course, excellent craft beers on tap in a relaxed, warehouse-chic setting.
For dinner The Stunned Mullet is irresistible for those with a gourmet palate and a penchant for fine wine, while Bill’s Fishhouse + Bar, on central Clarence Street, is a fun venue serving potent cocktails and locally sourced seafood dishes designed to share.