Located three hours drive north of Newcastle (and five hours from Sydney), Port Macquarie in New South Wales is a top location for a family holiday with plenty of fun activities for both parents and kids! Swim at beaches, visit Billabong Zoo and Timbertown, pick strawberries, get lost in a maze or head for a family stroll along the coastal walk or through state forest. Between the attractions, cafes and events, there’s plenty to keep everyone happy on a Port Macquarie family holiday.
Here’s a guide to visiting Port Macquarie with kids including attractions, kid-friendly places to eat and family accommodation.
Visit the Beaches
Port Macquarie has loads of beaches. In fact, there’s 17 beaches in the region. Whether you’re surfing, swimming or just walking by the beach, you’re spoiled for choice. Best family-friendly beaches include Town Beach (surf patrolled) Flynns Beach and Shelly Beach . It’s easy to spend hours at the beach. Kids love building sandcastles, collecting shells and splashing in the waves.
Billabong Zoo Koala and Wildlife Park
This regional zoo features a wide range of Australian and exotic animals, reptiles and birds. All of your favourites are here including koalas, monkeys, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, cassowaries, quolls, red pandas, crocodiles, lizards, snakes and birds. Set on 10 acres, this zoo is fantastic for families as it offers lots of opportunities for meets and greets but it’s not too large and overwhelming. Don’t miss seeing the koalas. Billabong is a major breeding centre for koalas and supplies koalas for Taronga Zoo and Western Plains Zoo. There’s also kangaroos and wallabies to feed.
Billabong Zoo also hosts snow leopards. Billabong Zoo is now one of only five zoos in Australia to host snow leopards, which are one of the most endangered big cats on earth with a wild population estimated at less than 4,000.To learn more about the animals, try to attend a keeper presentation. There’s different keeper presentations throughout the day including penguins, dingoes, snow leopards and a reptile show.
The park is wonderfully landscaped with plenty of shade which is necessary on a hot day. With wide paths, there’s plenty of space to push prams and strollers around and there’s even pram parking near the Croc Show amphitheatre. There’s also a children’s playground as well as a chalk desk area in the outdoor seating area of the cafe.
Insider Tip: If you get hungry while you’re there, visit the Billabong Café. There’s a variety of tasty options. You can also bring your own food for a picnic as there’s plenty of undercover picnic tables to sit down and enjoy some food.
Billabong Zoo: Koala & Wildlife Park 61 Billabong Drive, Port Macquarie, NSW (02) 6585 1060 Website
Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail
Spot koalas all around town as part of the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail. There’s 50 hand-painted koalas along the trail. To find them, download a map.
See Koalas in Care at Koala Hospital
Visit the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie to see the work that they do in caring for koalas. The Koala Hospital is a licenced Wildlife Rehabilitation Facility. You are welcome to visit the Koala Hospital anytime between 8:00am and 4:30pm. You will be able to walk around the grounds and see the koalas in their care. Entry is free and there’s no bookings required. There’s also guided tours by volunteer tour guides. These tours are free of charge and are conducted at 3pm every day when the koalas are fed. The tour explain the hospital’s operation as well as information about the conservation of koala populations.
Koala Hospital Cnr Roto Place & Lord Street, Port Macquarie, NSW (02) 6584 1522 Website
Walk along the Port Macquarie Breakwall
Part of a larger walk 9km coastal walk which starts at Town Green and ends at Lighthouse Beach, the breakwall is a fun place to stroll and check out the painted rocks. Originally started as a Lions Club art competition in 1995, this is now an unofficial gallery containing declarations of love, tributes to loved ones, commemoration of special occasions and holiday memories.
Insider Tip: Keep an eye out for rocks painted by friends. We found a rock painted by our friends on their 2016 holiday to Port Macquarie!
Pick Strawberries at Ricardoes
Head to Ricardoes for some strawberry picking. This iconic spot in Port Macquarie is a producer of hydrophonic tomatoes and strawberries. Four yummy varieties of tomatoes are grown at Ricardoes including cherry tomatoes, round and roma in vertical PVC pipes.
You can also pick strawberries. Like the tomatoes, these are cultivated off the ground and are grown in vertical PVC pipes with drip feeders supplying water and fertiliser to each individual plant. Bucket and scissors are provided and you’re encouraged to pick our own strawberries. It’s free to visit Ricardoes. You just pay by kilo for the strawberries you pick. It’s a wonderful experience to illustrate to kids how strawberries and tomatoes grow. If you visit in on weekday mornings, join the free farm tours at 11am.
Insider Tip: Don’t leave without tasting the award-winning jams, relishes and chutneys. Recommend ordering bruschetta and a serving of scones so that you can fully experience the Ricardoes tomatoes and strawberries.
Ricardoes 221 Blackmans Point Road, Port Macquarie, NSW (02) 6585 0663 Website
Look Up to Old Bottlebutt
A curious attraction in the Port Macquarie area is Old Bottlebutt, the largest Red Bloodwood tree in the southern hemisphere. It’s located in After 15 minutes down a single-lane gravel road, we arrive at a parking and picnic area in Burrawan State Forest, 15 minutes down a single-lane gravel road outside Wauchope.
You’ll have to venture through remmant rainforest and cross two small bridges along the 600 metre Old Bottlebutt Walking Track. But at the end, you’ll see Old Bottlebutt which. The tree is aptly named. It’s large flared “butt” measures 16 metres around and it’s more than 52 metres high.
Insider Tip: Take a seat on the hardwood timber viewing deck and look up. It’s a much more more relaxing way to enjoy Old Bottlebutt than craning your neck.
Burrawan State Forest Bago Road, Wauchope, NSW Website
Get Lost in Bago Maze
Challenge yourself in the Bago Maze. This maze took six years to complete with the construction of towers, bridges and allowing native lilly-pilly hedge to grow to a sufficient height. Standing from the top of the hill overlooking the maze, it doesn’t look that difficult. However, once you’re inside, you realise how challenging it is.The aim of the maze is to reach the two lookout towers and then find your way out or if you’re feeling particularly energetic, you can try the Bago Maze Treasure Hunt. This involve finding your way to the lookout towers and searching for hidden items like searching for leprechauns and hidden items. It’s harder than it looks and there’s a few wrong turns but use navigational and teamwork skills.
Insider Tip: Celebrate solving the maze with a cheese plate and wine at the Bago Winery and try to time your visit with live music in the wineyards which takes place on the second Sunday of every month.
Bago Maze at Vineyards Milligans Road off Bago Road, Wauchope, NSW (02) 6585 7099 Website
Go back in time at Timbertown
Step back in time and visit Timbertown, a heritage theme park. Located in Wauchope on 87 acres of forest, Timbertown is a recreation of a colonial village which Australia’s pioneers in the Timber industry. Jump on a steam train on a trip to the forest, experience a carriage ride and observe timber craftsman and blacksmiths. If your family is a fan of Australian history, it’s entertainment and education in one spot.
Insider Tip: Visit during school holidays as part of the History Alive program.
Timbertown Oxley Highway, Wauchope, NSW (02) 6586 1940 Website
Enjoy the view at North Brother Lookout
On your drive back to Newcastle, stop off at Brother Lookout near Laurieton. It’s a 10 minute drive to the top of the mountain (490 metres high) and once there, you’ll see spectacular views of the coast. It’s worth a visit.
Places to Eat
Pancake Palace is one of Port Macquarie’s favourite family restaurants. As you would expect from the name, munch down on stacks of pancakes.
If you’re looking for a playground with your meal, head to Port City Bowling Club. It features an indoor and outdoor children’s play area which means you can finish your meal in peace.
If you’re near Town Green, order some takeaway fish and chips from Off the Hook and drive to Flynn’s Beach. This is a popular beach with families featuring large shaded picnic areas. It’s a beautiful spot to sit and watch the sun go down.
Family-friendly Accommodation in Port Macquarie
Enjoy some country air at a farm stay at Telegraph Retreat located just 20 minutes north of Port Macquarie in Telegraph Point. Located on 8.5 hectares, Telegraph Retreat provide luxury family-friendly accommodation and country hospitality. There’s plenty of space and privacy on at Telegraph Retreat and families can do as little or as much as they want. Telegraph Retreat offers plenty of outdoor fun activities for kids including a heated swimming pool, kids play equipment and a trampoline and just the freedom to roam around and explore. The property is full of animals including chickens, ducks, geese, goats, cows and a donkey.
Telegraph Retreat Cottages 126 Federation Way, Cooperabung, NSW (02) 6585 0670 Website
Port Macquarie is a three hour drive from Newcastle via Pacific Highway.
In 2012, Reena founded Newy with Kids to share information about family-friendly Newcastle. Originally from Canada, she had no idea about what to do with her toddler and after searching unsuccessfully for a family guide, decided to start her own. Since that time, both the toddler and Newy with Kids have grown keeping Reena busy. If you see her out and about, say hi.