Two people on top of a mountain enjoying the view
Photograph: Supplied | Port Macquarie

Five ways to clear the mind and hit refresh in Port Macquarie

From rainforest walks to saltwater therapy, this holiday town has you covered

By Olivia Hart for Time Out in association with Port Macquarie

A restorative trip away can look different to everyone. Some like to get back to nature with bush walks or mountain biking, while others consider a long lunch with a tipple their idea of heaven. No matter how you like to refresh, Port Macquarie has you covered with a selection of ways to look after your mind, body and soul. 

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

5 experiences in Port Macquarie

Walk, bike and hike your way through nature

Nature-lovers often count the Port Macquarie Coastal Walk as a top contender for one of the best nature walks in Australia, and for good reason. Not only does it hug the stunning stretch of coastline, but this four hour walk (which can be split up into sections) stops off at some pretty excellent cafés along the way before taking you up into the Sea Acres Rainforest Centre. For something to get the adrenaline pumping, pack your bike and race down the forested mountain trails at Jollynose park, or head high up into the hinterland mountains for an epic view of the town where you’ll find tucked-away waterfalls just a bike’s ride away. For anyone car-less, book in for a Trike Tour where you can choose your own route or opt for beach or bush options.

Head out on your own foodie trail

Nothing tops an unhurried lunch where the courses keep on coming, unless you do it with a beachfront view or a side of country scenery. This is exactly what you’ll find at Byabarra, a charming cottage café where every local knows the owners, and Little Fish Cafe and Restaurant, a French owned and operated vineyard with a seasonal menu. For food made from scratch, head to Two Triple Four by Bill’s Fishhouse which runs on a paddock to plate ethos. Enjoy waterside views at the beloved Whalebone Wharf which is known for its impressive cocktail list and creamy oysters, or head to the Boathouse Bar & Restaurant, a light-filled space where a plate of scallops and a spritz is the order of the day. For an after-hours spot head to Moo & Bean Kitchen & Bar at North Haven where you can get killer cocktails and local Aussie drops. 

For those that prefer a more curated experience where you don't have to lift a finger, book in for Taste Trails where local guides have put together a few itineries to choose between with wines, brews, producers or creativity guides on offer.  

Give back with a visit to the koala hospital

Take a tour of the world’s first Koala hospital and learn about the conservation efforts where over 200 volunteers treat and rehabilitate injured or orphaned koalas. Watch them climb trees in their rehabilitation yards and meet the permanent residents who are not healthy enough to return to the wild. To get involved you can make a donation to this not-for-profit that goes towards symbolically ‘adopting’ a koala where your dollars will be used to fund koala rescue or a tree planting project which aims to regenerate critical koala habitat.

Catch the sunrise during a saltwater therapy session

Head to Town Beach at daybreak where you’ll find ‘Sunrise Swimmers’, a friendly bunch of locals who just love an early dip with the backdrop of a rising sun over the ocean. Swim some laps or just dip your toes in – there’s no judgement here, and afterwards, follow the crowd to Salty Crew Kiosk for a hot cuppa and a chat. If you’re lucky (and are visiting at the right time of year), you might even spot a whale migrating through, given that Port Macquarie is the perfect vantage point for sightings.

Discover how local jam and other condiments are made before digging in

Family-run business The Other Chef started making jam out of buckets in their backyard and now turn out some of the best local jams, relishes, sauces and pickles among other kitchen cupboard staples. Though they’ve been at it for a decade, they only recently opened the doors for visitors to scope out their brand new premises in Port Macquarie’s light industrial area. Head down to their solar-powered factory and you’ll find a showroom and shop where you can taste and purchase some of their gourmet condiments or, for a peep behind the curtain, watch a live demonstration of how they make their award-winning products with traditional methods.

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