A weekend in Port Macquarie

While on our Australian East Coast road trip we’ve passed through a lot of beautiful coastal towns but none quite like Port Macquarie. Known for its wildlife, beaches (17 in total for this small town!) and colonial history Port Macquarie is a popular destination for holidayers and overseas tourists. We stayed for a couple of days in Port Macquarie to take advantage of what it has to offer and with it being just on the edge of winter here, we were lucky enough to experience it without the summer crowds. So how did we spend a weekend in Port Macquarie? Well, amongst the wildlife encounters, we found out that Port Macquarie has a lot of history making it a great place to head, if only for a few days.

I take a walk down the steps to the beach during a rainy day while we spent a weekend in Port Macquarie

How to spend a weekend in Port Macquarie:

Day 1:

Tacking Point Lighthouse

Quick guide: Great views, a bit of history, whale watching.

Price: Free

Our first introduction to Port Macquarie was arriving at Tacking Point Lighthouse. The East Coast has so many of these beautiful little lighthouses yet each one offers a slightly different viewpoint over the Pacific ocean. Built-in 1879 Tacking Point Lighthouse ranks as Australia’s 13th oldest lighthouse; which kinda made me want to tick them all off right down to #1!

The sunset over the lighthouse in Port Macquarie

To the right of Tacking Point Lighthouse is a huge beach, so if you fancy a bit of a relax after your long drive to Port Macquarie there’s plenty of space to find your own little corner do so. We stayed here a few hours taking in the views and making the most of the glorious weather after a few days of rain. As August is prime time in the humpback whale migration we managed to spot a couple as well as a few dolphins in the distance, I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to seeing them casually swimming along in front of the busy beaches.

For more on whale spotting and what to look out for, check out our guide for seeing Whales from Sydney

Sea Acres Rainforest Centre

Quick guide: Aboriginal history, rainforest views, fun for everyone

Price: Free entry to Centre

If you’re spending a weekend in Port Macquarie, definitely head over to the Sea Areas Rainforest Centre! Located by the Sea Acres national park the Centre is an awesome place to start if you plan on adventuring through another of New South Wales’ fantastic park ranges. An informative centre with a wealth of displays about the local aboriginal culture as well as the environment surrounding the rainforest. Entry into the centre itself is completely free so it’s definitely worth a visit, especially if you have youngsters.

The Sea Acres Rainforest Centre isn’t just your everyday information centre though, right next to the cafe is the rainforest boardwalk reaching out 1.3 km into the rainforest canopy. So once you’ve had your fill of education you can stretch your legs amongst the treetops and enjoy the views.

Confession! We actually missed out on Sea Acres Rainforest Centre, only realising it was there once we’d already left Port Macquarie and it’s safe to say we regret not going! It looks like a much more height phobia friendly version of the UK’s ‘go ape’ forest activities haha (if you’re not familiar with GoApe, they’re a high wire assault course you complete while attached to a zip line. No solid platforms, just you hanging high in the trees… fun, if you’re not scared of heights)

Prices for the boardwalk are $9 per adult and $35 for children over 5.

Not sure how to pronounce this town? It’s Mc-Quarry. Not Mac-Q-Airy… because we totally wasn’t saying it wrong.

Nobbys Beach

Quick guide: Scenic views, mini walking track, relaxation, dolphin spotting.

Price: Free

After we’d taken in the sights at Tacking Point Lighthouse we headed over to Nobbys Beach to do the walk at Nobby Head.

While not an ‘official’ walking track, there is a path leading from Nobbys car park up to a lookout point at the top of Nobby Head. I wouldn’t recommend it for families with young children as it’s a bit steep in places and very close to the cliff edge at times too. It’s only about a 5-minute walk if that, but the views from the top are incredible. There’s also an interesting monument at the top, dedicated to a teacher who drowned trying to save the life of a colleague who’d fallen off the cliff. It’s a bit of a sun trap at the top and very peaceful so we stayed for a bit to just watch the ocean.

A lizard we found during a weekend in port macquarie

TIP: the path forks half way up, take the path on the right to avoid a bit of a scramble to the top.

Once back at the carpark, still enjoying the amazing weather we were being treated too we took a stroll along Nobbys Beach. It has an interesting history behind it, if you’re into how the earth has evolved and became what it is today. The boulders on the beach are remanence of an old cliff face and hidden amongst the crack are fossilised teeth of ancient eel-like creatures. Get your geek on and see if you can find them before the tide comes in. We also came across this huge Monitor Lizard lurking on the ledge sunning himself, so be careful where you poke your hands.

How to spend a weekend in Port Macquarie

Day 2:

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital

Quick guide: Koala encounters (obviously), tugs on your heart strings, learn how to help.

Price: Free

Day two was by far my favourite while at Port Macquarie. If there’s anything I love more than a wildlife encounter, it’s coming across a group who do their absolute best to look after it. If you only have time to do one activity during your weekend in Port Macquarie, then you must visit the Koala Hospital.

The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital is run solely by volunteers and while it’s free to enter, they can’t stay open without the donations and support of visitors.

We’ve been in Australia over a year now, and we’ve seen just a handful of wild Koala. None of those have been in New South Wales. A lot of people assume that’s because they’re just really hard to spot but the reality is, Koalas are in trouble and without places like the Koala Hospital, their numbers would be even lower.

The volunteers at Port Macquarie Koala Hospital go out of their way to help rescue, nurse back to health and release every injured koala that is reported to them. Its estimated they get between 200-300 injured koalas through their door each year… mainly through traffic accidents.

So what can you expect from a visit to the Koala Hospital?

They are open every day from 8 am – 4:30 pm and do one guided tour, at no cost, at 3 pm every day. No matter when you visit you’ll be able to see the handful of Koala that have made the hospital their fur-ever home due to illness/injury so severe that they wouldn’t survive in the wild, as well as those on the road to recovery. If you’re there when a new patient has been bought in, the window into the surgery means you get to see every step taken to help the new arrival.

Joining a tour gives you a extra information into the history of the hospital, how the general public can help wild koalas and you’ll also get to see their full-time occupants being fed.

For more on the Port Macuarie Koala Hospital, visit our dedicated post HERE.

Rotto House

Quick guide: History, Koala spotting.

Price: Free

Right next door to the Koala Hospital is Rotto House, another free exhibit open to the public 8 am – 4:30 pm, however, it is also run by volunteers so occasionally it’s closed due to having no staff available; this was the case when we were there so we didn’t get chance to go inside, but from the outside Rotto House looks really interesting.

Rotto house is the perfect amusement if your spending a weekend in Port Macquarie

Rotto House was built in 1890 so it really is a mini time machine, stepping through its picket gate will transport you to another era entirely. Inside are 11 rooms complete with the Flynn family’s belongings like newspapers and trinkets, all perfectly preserved to give visitors a glimpse to life back then. Learn about the life of the Flynn family who occupied this home right up to the 1980’s and then why not take in the serenity of the surrounding grounds; you might even spot a wild Koala or two.

There aren’t many homes like this left in the area so while spending a weekend in Port Macquarie it really is a must see.

Other things to do for a weekend in Port Macquarie:

Innes Ruins – Booking essential

Port Macquarie Museum – $7 adults, $3 child. FREE 1st Sunday

Billabong Zoo – $32 adults $17 children

Walk the break wall – Fee

Spending a weekend in Port Macquarie has been a highlight of our East Coast road trip, I’m sure it’s even more beautiful in the summer too! I’ll be writing about the Koala Hospital in more depth as I really love what the guys there are doing towards saving these beautiful animals. Have you been to any of these places? Let us know in the comments!

Next stop – Coffs Harbour and everywhere in between!!!

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  1. Carmen Edelson 14/09/2018 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    This beautiful part of the world is totally up my alley. I love that lighthouse, so much charm! I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of Port Macquarie before. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  2. Cynthia 14/09/2018 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    I love how many things you were able to do here that are absolutely free! Although I likely would leave a donation at the Koala hospital – their work is so very important. I’m amazed at how many beaches are in the area – you could spend an entire week there and never see the same beach twice! And, I love the look and history of lighthouses, so would definitely be up for searching out the older lighthouses, that would be a great trip!

    • Leah 14/09/2018 at 4:22 pm - Reply

      It’s a great budget friendly area that’s for sure!

  3. Astrid Vinje 14/09/2018 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    We’re hoping to visit Australia in the next few years, so I’ll have to make note to stop by Port Macquarie. I would love to explore the lighthouse and rainforest center, but I think my kids would enjoy the Koala Hospital the best. Thanks for the post!

    • Leah 14/09/2018 at 4:23 pm - Reply

      I hope you do get a chance to visit Astrid, it’s a great country and there are loads of little towns like Port Macquarie!

  4. Melody Pittman 14/09/2018 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    That is such a beuatiful lighthouse. So short and squatty, but definitely cute. 😉 The snake…eek….I would have jumped out of my skin!

    • Leah 14/09/2018 at 4:24 pm - Reply

      Would you believe we found a smaller one!

  5. Michael Hodgson 14/09/2018 at 8:48 am - Reply

    I have heard of Port Macquarie but never realized how very cool this spot is until reading your post. A lighthouse, koala hospital, canopy boardwalk? What’s not to love!! Also love your photo effect zooming in the pic when you scroll by. What program or plugin are you using for that effect? Would be fun to do that selectively on some photos for sure.

    • Leah 14/09/2018 at 4:26 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Michael! It’s part of our theme settings but I’m sure there’d be a plugin for it too.

  6. Erica Edwards 13/09/2018 at 11:23 pm - Reply

    A lot of great options out in Port Macquarie! The lighthouse looks lovely and I’ve always wanted to visit a koala hospita! Must have been quite an experience to see them so up close. They’re so adorable! 🐨🐨

    • Leah 14/09/2018 at 4:27 pm - Reply

      It really was Erica, it’s sad why they’re there in the first place but it’s amazing the work that the hospital do to help them!

  7. Yukti 13/09/2018 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    Port Macquarie looks a perfect place to watch for exotic flora and fauna. I loved the Koala Hospital and good to know that they have free entrance. Thanks for sharing all tips.

    • Leah 14/09/2018 at 4:28 pm - Reply

      No worries Yukti 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it!

  8. Kavita Favelle 12/09/2018 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    Port Macquarie is not somewhere I’ve read about before but it looks just gorgeous. Loving the coastal scenery, and the rainforest, I really fancy that canopy boardwalk. And the koala hospital looks like a must-visit.

    • Leah 14/09/2018 at 4:29 pm - Reply

      I’m gutted we missed the boardwalk so if you’re ever in the area Kavita, you’ll have to visit for us!

  9. Maggie 12/09/2018 at 1:58 am - Reply

    What a lovely looking place! It seems to quiet and peaceful. I’d love to visit that koala hospital! I’ve been to a sea turtle hospital, and it’s so neat getting to learn about the animals, but also what people are doing to heal and protect them.

    • Leah 14/09/2018 at 4:30 pm - Reply

      It’s been one of my favourite stops so far Maggie! It really is a pretty town

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