Places, like people, tend to get “type cast.” When someone mentions Byron Bay, we think of alternative lifestylers, surfers and backpackers and overlook the fact that it is also a great family destination. When Port Macquarie is mentioned, most Australians immediately think of family holidays. While it is true that Port MacQuarie, just about equidistant from Brisbane and Sydney, is one of the New South Wales coast’s most popular family destinations, it is much more than just that. These are four reasons to visit Port Macquarie whether you bring your family with you or not:
The Festival of the Sun
Byron Bay was first discovered by surfers and hippies. For years, it remained an idyllic, but out-of –the-way far north NSW playground. Then came the inaugural Blues Festival and within a few years, the whole world knew about Byron Bay. In 2004, Port Macquarie held its first Festival of the Sun. Still going strong today, this three day event seems to be doing the same thing for Australia’s favourite “family” beach. An over 18s only event, the festival features most of Australia’s favourite Indie bands and performers. You know a music festival has cemented its reputation when it is widely known by a nickname or acronym. Now called simply FOTSUN, the Festival of the Sun is getting bigger and better every year.
Wauchope Country Music Festival
Holding a country music festival in a little town near Port Macquarie just before the Tamworth Country Music Festival kicks off may sound like a bad idea, but that’s what Port Macquarie’s neighbour, Wauchope, did and guess what? It worked. Wauchope is best known for being the home of Timber Town, a family attraction that commemorates its history as a logging town. A stunningly beautiful rural town with a history that dates back to the early 1800s, Wauchope is an ideal location for a country music festival. There are too few accommodations in this town of less than 7000 to handle the crowds that now arrive for the three day festival, so camping facilities are provided. Otherwise, Port Macquarie is just about 10 miles east of Wauchope and public transportation is available. Camp out or drive in: the Wauchope Country Music Festival has a country feeling all its own.
Port Macquarie isn’t known as the surfing capital of Australia. This suits the local surfers fine, since they get all the secret spots to themselves for most of the year. The greater Hastings area is a haven for longboard riders and frequently hosts the NSW Longboard Titles. The longest running surfing contest in Australia, the Australian Surf Titles has been going since 1964, when Australian surfers were just beginning to make their mark on the surfing world.
Sea Acres National Forest
Just a couple of miles from downtown Port Macquarie and you enter the magical confines of Sea Acres National Forest. A haven of tranquillity and natural beauty, when you step onto the three-quarter long elevated boardwalk, it’s as if you’ve been “elevated” into another dimension. It’s hard to believe that you’re so close to a major urban centre as you pass towering trees and catch glimpses of some of the 140 bird species and over 2200 species of plants in this amazing forest. When “visitor centre” is mentioned, it usually conjures images of harsh lights and impersonal surrounds, but the visitor centre at Sea Acres has a wonderful alfresco café surrounded by rainforest that is worth visiting in its own right.
If coming for one of the Port Macquarie festivals or just for a family holiday you will find a range of accommodation in Port Macquarie to suit your holiday needs.