An east coast adventure: ten things to do in Port Macquarie

An east coast adventure: ten things to do in Port Macquarie

3024 1702 Table Under a Tree

An east coast adventure

Usually I’d be writing a post advocating the pleasures of a holiday in Byron Bay, or spruiking the beauty of a trip into the Northern Rivers hinterland but sometimes it’s nice to share suggestions from our own trips. And really, any good road trip – say, from Sydney to Byron – should be broken up into some bit size chunks so let me suggest Port Macquarie as a great spot to pull off the highway and indulge in some great food, impressive wine and beautiful surrounds. Lucky it doesn’t have weather as perfect as we do!

I have fond memories of Port Macquarie, not from childhood but from more recent years. Port is home to Ironman Australia, where I’ve spent countless hours swimming, riding and running myself ragged. Of course, it is more than a race venue, so we’ve made sure over the years to stay a few days to enjoy the town and surrounding region. We were there last month for my annual triathlon escapade and this year I made sure to take note of some of our favourite places to visit.

If you read no further, take as given that Port has great seafood, some cracking good cafes, one of my favourite wineries and lots of great ways to get outside that will suit the whole family. In no particular order, here’s my top ten things to do in Port Macquarie:

  1. Visit some wineries. Over the years the Port region five wineries have been established in the region and the standout for me is Cassegrain. Across the board their wines are impressive, but it was their Reserve Fromenteau Chardonnay that was (and still is) the clincher for me. The Cellar Door is a great set-up and every time we’ve visited, the staff have hit the right balance of knowledge and approachability. I haven’t tried the restaurant but suspect it would be lovely.
  2. Eat one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. Big call I know, but young or old, burger fan or not, Burger Rebellion is well worth it. Go old school and have the Old School Cheese. Enjoy a local craft beer while you’re at it and thank me late.
  3. Get outside for a walk of the coastal or bush variety. Maybe you’ll even track down a koala, something the region is well known for. The coastal track is particularly beautiful.
  4. If a gentler walk is calling you, combine wine and wandering by tackling the brilliant maze at Bago Winery. Kids will love it, parents will love the wine tasting that follows and if you’re competitive like we are, you’ll enjoy the challenge of finding all the hidden inhabitants.
  5. Make the most of the blossoming coffee roasting and brewing culture. There are a surprising number of great places in town and my favourite is Four Espresso. Their bagels are spectacular too!
  6. Speaking of cafes, Port punches above its weight on that front too. I love LVs on Clarence for its emphasis on local produce, including much they’re grown or made themselves. It has become our go-to for breakfast the day after Ironman and it is worth sweating through 226km for! But go even without that as inducement.
  7. Pick up some organic sourdough from Burkhardts Bakery. Ok, if I’m honest, you’ll probably want to pick up more than just bread because the range of cakes, slices and seasonally goodies reflects the owner’s German heritage. Beautiful.
  8. Ride a camel. It’s a hoot; loads of fun, and not at all difficult. The staff at Port Macquarie Camels are great fun to chat with and tell many a tale (possibly of the tall variety) about the animals, cattle stations, customers and plenty else.
  9. Pick your own strawberries and stock up on tomatoey goodness at Ricardoes Tomatoes. We always stop and pick a bucket load on our way out of town, and they never last longer than an hour or so because we eat them far too quickly! Sauces, chutneys, jams and local produce make this a great stop for any foodie fan.
  10. Get super-fresh seafood. You can take two paths on this front: dine in at restaurants ranging from the hatted Stunned Mullet to the more recent addition Bills Fishhouse (on my radar to try after the next race); or you could do as we regularly do, and pick up some fresh oysters, fish or bugs to cook yourself. Try Armstrong Oysters in Laurieton or The Big Oyster on the road out of town.

There is so much to do in Port, and it is well worth taking the time to explore. If you decide to stop in for a visit, just make sure you connect with real people, making real food at real places.