Located on the Mid North Coast of NSW, boasting 17 gorgeous beaches, a lush hinterland, a diverse variety of attractions including the Koala Hospital, Billabong Zoo, river cruises, and a choice of accommodation from 4.5 star luxury hotels to camping by the beach. Top it off with one of the best year-round climates and a busy events calendar, it's no wonder this is one of Australia's most popular holiday destinations, and the friendly locals will welcome you with open arms.

Sometimes a road trip is all it takes to breathe life back into a tired, weary, and broken souls. On the road from Brisbane to Sydney our first stop was Port Macquarie. First point of call was the Port Pacific Resort for a two day visit.

Port Macquarie, a small town of less than 50,000 residents along the Pacific Coast in Australia, is often overlooked by local and international travelers. It’s a city with rich convict history dating back to 1818, but one that over the years has gained a rather uninspiring reputation of a “retirement destination”.

But the truth is, it’s so much more than that. Visiting Port Macquarie for the first time, we found no reason to label it “an old people settlement” and there is plenty of ways to soak up its vibrant, youthful, and adventurous culture. Port Macquarie’s laid back friendly vibe made us feel right at home, but that was only one of the reasons we fell in love with this small town on the Pacific Coast.

Inspired by the early sights, we dedicated many hours that day to exploring Port Macquarie’s 18 beaches that range from family-friendly swimming beaches, to secluded patches of sand surrounded by incredible rocky headlands.

The locals told us that one of the best ways to explore many of Port Macquarie’s beaches is to embark on the famous 9km (one way) Coastal Walk. The walk stretches from the Town Green foreshore to Lighthouse Beach, passing through eight beautiful beaches, including Miners Beach, Shelly’s Beach, Nobby’s Beach, Flynn’s Beach, Rocky Beach, Oxley Beach, and Town Beach.

We only had a couple of days to spend in Port Macquarie, so we choose to explore the Coastal Walk by car, driving from beach to beach and seeing the stunning views and the diversity of the coastline without the time sacrifice. We may have cheated our way through Port Macquarie’s famous activity, but it didn’t make it any less memorable.

We found some lunch at Bittersweet which is very popular with the locals. It’s a cafe / patisserie. Booking seems to be the only way we can be sure of a table and we are rewarded with a large table in the sunny outside of the cafe. It’s a shop front in a small group of shops in a suburban corner a few blocks from Lighthouse beach.

We love a menu that offers a good selection of salads and Bittersweet has some beauties along with burgers and sandwiches. The draw card here though I suspect is the counter full of desserts and of course good coffee. The enticing mango and passion fruit smoothie is downed and given the thumbs up but we share it because it is so filling.

We devour Beetroot, pumpkin and haloumi salad with candied walnuts, a chicken schnitzel burger full of fresh salad and served with fine crispy sweet potato thins, salt and pepper squid with a red pepper herb and tomato salad offset with the crunch of fried noodles & a light  Asian “inspired” dressing.  The sweet potato and goat cheese frittata has an extremely generous portion of cheese within and comes with a julienne vegetable salad, house made chutney and a slab of pan toasted sour dough. We then made our way to the break wall.

The painted rock wall that stretches along the break wall next to the Port Macquarie Caravan Park was nothing short of amazing and served a true testament to the wonderful Port community. What began as an art competition back in 1995 has since grown into an incredible rock gallery commemorating life, love, and adventures on the road. Every rock was unique, hand painted by locals and visitors alike. Some paintings were elaborate meaningful tributes to family, friends, or loved ones. Others were simple scribbles on the rocks, marks of casual passers by.

The next day we headed 15 minutes west toward Wauchope and Kim uncovered a treasure trove of unique clothing boutiques, gorgeous homewares and cute cafe’s with great coffee. The best part is you won’t be fighting holiday makers for the privilege of discovering unique products and clothing with customer service second to none. When we finished in Wauchope, we head down to Laurieton where we found the same boutique shopping experience. On the third Sunday of each month, you’re in for a wonderful treat with Laurieton Riverwalk Markets offering an array of goods from hand crafted specialties to organic products and local meat and veg.

Up and early for a sunrise photo and on the highway for the five and a half drive onto Sydney.

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