Port Macquarie is a stunning seaside resort town on the Mid-North Coast of NSW and there are some great walks to be done here – the best one being the Coastal Walk going from Town Beach all the way down to Tacking Point Lighthouse. There are also many other things to do in Port Macquarie – the coastal city famed for it’s great surf and beaches as well as top dolphin and whale spotting sights. Port Mac, or even Port as the locals like to call it, is also known for being home to the world’s largest urban population of koalas
PORT MACQUARIE COASTAL WALK
The Port Macquarie Coastal Walk is 9km one way and goes from Town Beach to Tacking Point Lighthouse.
Walking along the whole length of Port Macquarie Coastal Walk should take you around three hours, although if you are short on time or don’t think you can walk so far you can always just do a section of the walk. It is also easy enough to drive and stop off at each point, meaning you’ll still get to see all the places along the walk but you won’t actually have to walk 9km. This also saves you having to get back to your car at the end! The great thing is that all parking is free in Port Macquarie so whether you choose to leave your car for the day or car hop to the different beaches and spots along the way, you won’t spend any money on parking tickets.
Remember the walk is 9km one way, so if you do plan to walk it all you will need to get back to Port Macquarie when you get to the lighthouse. Luckily the 322 bus can take you back from Lighthouse Plaza – click here to see the bus route and click here to see the 322 bus timetable. Buses run roughly every hour.
Note that some of the beaches along the walk do not allow dogs.
Westport Park Car Park
Port Macquarie Coastal Walk starts from Westport Park car park. You’ll find shops, cafes and restaurants nearby if you want to have some food beforehand or buy some food for a picnic later on in the walk. There are also toilets and water refill stations here.
From Westport Park car park it is 2km to Town Beach along the Hastings River and break wall. Make sure to look out for dolphins as you can often see them here! This part of the walk is easy, flat and suitable for wheelchairs. It is also suitable for families as there are lots of playgrounds along here.
Town Beach is really lovely and if you go up to Town Beach Park and Gaol Point Lookout (also known as Lions Park and Lookout) above the beach you’ll get stunning views over the beach and ocean. From here continue following the path in a clockwise direction around to Flagstaff Hill.
Between Town Beach and Oxley Beach take the path that leads to the wooden staircase up to Flagstaff Hill. There is a lovely lookout up here which commands perfect views over Town Beach and Oxley Beach. There are signs to be careful of snakes in this area so do watch your footing.
Stroll along Oxley Beach before making your way down Pacific Drive to Rocky Beach Lookout.
Rocky Beach Lookout
The Rocky Beach Lookout is another good place for whale watching in early winter through to spring. This is also a popular spot for hang-gliding and paragliding. Beneath the lookout you’ll see the isolated sandy and pebbly beach of Rocky Beach.
About 100 metres after Rocky Beach Lookout turn left down Tuppenny Road down towards the sandy Flynns Beach. This beach is patrolled in the summer months and is great for a swim. It is one of Port Macquarie’s favourite beaches, and you’ll also find the Flynns Beach Surf Club here which has a kiosk. There are also public toilets and water refill stations here at Flynns Beach. If you make your way back onto Pacific Drive you’ll see a few shops and cafes located on Pacific Drive by Flynn Street.
If you walk south along Flynns Beach towards the headland you’ll see some stairs. Take these and they will lead you to Nobbys Beach.
Walk along Nobbys Beach and take the path at the end of the beach that will lead you to Kenny Walk in John Downes Park. Follow the path down to Shelly Beach. Note at high tide it may be inaccessible due to the rocky area.
Stroll along Shelly Beach and you’ll come to the BBQs and Shelly Beach picnic area so it is the perfect spot to stop and have a picnic. Harry’s Lookout is located on the headland above the beach – it is also a popular paragliding and hang gliding spot. Keep walking along the beach and you’ll come to the car park. Do note the toilets at Shelly Beach car park are the last toilets on the walk until you get to Lighthouse Beach which is past the lighthouse, so definitely make sure you go to the toilet here if you need it! From here there is less than a third of the walk left and it should take you one hour to reach the lighthouse.
From the car park you can choose to see the Sea Acres Nature Reserve – one of the largest remaining coastal Rainforest reserves in NSW, in one of two ways. You can either walk along the coast for the rest of the walk (quite steep!) or go to the Sea Acres Rainforest Centre and do the Sea Acres Rainforest Board Walk.
Option 1: Miners Beach (nudist beach) and Walking Track
If you choose to walk along the coast follow the coastal path to the left towards Miners Beach along the Miners Beach Walking Track. Take the staircase down to Miners Beach (a nudist beach) and continue walking to the end of the beach. There is then a steep path that you will need to take up to get through Sea Acres Nature Reserve. You may see goannas here and maybe even some koalas up in the trees.
The path continues to go quite steep and will then lead you onto a little car park on Lighthouse Road. You’ll then see the Lighthouse Walking Track in front of you on the other side of the car park. Walk down here to the end where you will see a stunning view of the lighthouse (click here for the Google maps location).
If you choose to visit the Rainforest Centre and Boardwalk, head up along Shelly Beach Road to get back onto Pacific Drive. Turn left on Pacific Drive then take the first left to the Sea Acres Rainforest Centre.
Option 2: Sea Acres Rainforest Centre
It is free to access the Sea Acres Rainforest Centre where you can learn about the Aboriginal culture and rainforest, as well as see exhibitions by local artists. If you want to walk along the 1.3km Rainforest Boardwalk it will cost $9 for adults. A guided tour is included in the price or you can walk along the boardwalk alone if you wish. The boardwalk is a great place to explore the rainforest as many animals in the rainforest stay above ground level. By getting up into the rainforest canopy which is seven metres above the ground you can really explore the rainforest properly. You’ll be likely to encounter many birds, goannas and even the diamond python!
The Rainforest Cafe here serves some really great food to breakfast and lunch if you fancy something to eat (open 9am – 4.30pm)! Click here to see the menu!
When you are finished at the Sea Acres Rainforest Centre get back onto Pacific Road and then turn left when you get to Lighthouse Road. Walk down here for 1km and then on your left you’ll see a small space for a few cars to park. Here you’ll see signs for the Lighthouse Walking Track – head down here.
Lighthouse Walking Track
The Lighthouse Walking Track leads you down a 600 metre track that will provide you with stunning views over Tacking Point Lighthouse (click here to see the location of the best viewpoint to take pictures of the lighthouse) and Lighthouse Beach in the background.
This viewpoint provides a 230 degree angle and is a bit of a hidden secret only known by the locals in the area. Tourists tend to all go to the lighthouse to see the view and are all crammed together, whilst up on this lookout you can have stunning views across to the beach and look down onto the lighthouse without the crowds of people. Plus the views from this lookout are far better than from the lighthouse!
Once you are doing admiring the view walk back on yourself until you get to Lighthouse Road. Turn left and keep walking all the way down to the end of Lighthouse Road to reach the lighthouse.
Tacking Point Lighthouse
Tacking Point Lighthouse was built in 1879 and offers nice views down over Lighthouse Beach which stretches 7km. The lighthouse is incredibly picturesque and quite unique in it’s features. It is also the thirteenth oldest lighthouse in Australia.
Enjoy some time on Lighthouse Beach after the long walk! You can go for a swim, a surf or event a camel ride here!
The Tacking Club Surf Club is located here on the beach and you’ll find toilets and a kiosk here – perfect if you need an ice-cream or a nice cold drink to cool down.
The bus stop where you’ll need to go to get the bus back to Port Macquarie is just behind here on Matthew Flinders Drive (opposite Glen Street). Click here to see the exact location of the bus stop on Google Maps.
Where to find toilets along the Port Macquarie Coastal Walk:
- Westport Park car park
- Town Green
- Town Beach
- John Downes Park
- Shelly Beach car park
- Tacking Point Surf Club (Lighthouse Beach)
You’ll find water refill stations at almost all the beaches along the Coastal Walk.
OTHER POPULAR COASTAL WALKS NEAR PORT MACQUARIE:
If you have more time in Port Macquarie why not try out these nearby walks:
Bonny Hills to Grants Beach Walk
Roughly half an hour south of Port Macquarie is the Bonny Hills to Grants Beach Walk.
– The trail is 3.5km long one-way (7km return).
– It should take you around 45 minutes to complete each way (1.5 hours in total).
You start the walk at North Haven – on the southern end of Grants Beach, and walk up to Grants Head by Bonny Beach. The walk takes you through sand dunes and into woodlands and then gets steeper leading up to Grants Head. It is not too steep though and the walk is considered relatively easy. There are no shops along the way so make sure you are prepared and bring enough water and snacks with you.
Diamond Head Loop Walk – Crowdy Bay National Park
A 20 minute drive south from Grants Beach (or a 45 minute drive south of Port Macquarie) will take you to the Diamond Head Loop Walk in Crowdy Bay National Park.
– It is a 4.3km loop trail.
– The trail should take around 2 hours to walk.
Diamond Head is thought to be named so because of the quartz crystals in the cliff that can often be seen sparkling in the daylight.
The Diamond Head Loop Walk starts at Diamond Bay Campground and joins onto the Headland Walking Track and Forest Walking Track. This walk will reward you with stunning ocean views as well as dramatic views across Crowdy Bay and Perpendicular Point. You’ll also see the impressively striking Three Brothers Mountains behind you in the hinterland. This walk is considered moderately difficult.
OTHER THINGS TO DO IN PORT MACQUARIE:
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital
No visit to Port Macquarie is complete without a visit to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital looks after sick koalas and koalas injured through bushfires, motor vehicle accidents and dog attacks. Established in 1973 it is the world’s first hospital dedicated solely to koalas. It has one treatment room, eight Intensive Care Units and several recovery yards for the koalas. It also has a 24 Hour Rescue and Treatment operation. Normally anything between 200 and 250 koalas are admitted here every year.
You may have heard about Port Macquarie Koala Hospital during the devastating bushfires of 2019/2020 when it was thrown into the limelight on news channels around the world as many koalas were brought here from all over Australia after suffering horrific bushfire injuries. Sadly many didn’t make it, but many were also successfully released back into the wild. Some are still at the hospital recovering as their claws got burnt so bad that they still haven’t grown back.
As you enter the hospital you will see a big whiteboard on your left with all the information about the koalas currently residing in the hospital. It includes their names, age, sex, what they are in the hospital for and what treatment they are having. The koalas are named after the place where they were rescued from so that when they are ready to be released they go back to the place where they were found. If not they will keep looking for their home and could even die trying to find it. For example a Koala would be named Lismore if they were found in Lismore. If the koala was found in Port Macquarie it is named after the street it was found on (for example one of the koalas was named Ocean after Ocean Street).
YOU MUST BOOK ONLINE TO BE ALLOWED INTO THE KOALA HOSPITAL!
Entry to the koala hospital is free (though donations are very much welcomed and encouraged), however note due to the current global situation you will need to book online and provide your contact details to be allowed into the Koala Hospital. Absolutely all visits need to be pre-booked. If you do not book online beforehand and just turn up you will not be allowed entry.
There are currently six different time sessions available throughout the day available to book, with the first one (08.30) being the best to see the koalas as this is when they are most active. Sessions are one hour long and only 30 people are allowed on each tour. They will often book out so make sure to book in advance – click here to book.
Please consider making a donation as Port Macquarie Koala Hospital is run by volunteers (160 of them!). Click here to make a donation.
The Koala Hospital is located within the grounds of the beautiful and historic Roto House on Lord Street. It can be accessed via Little Owen Street or Roto Place. If you have the time you should definitely spend some time at Roto House after your visit to the Koala Hospital.
A visit to Timbertown Wauchope, 20 minutes drive from Port Macquarie makes for a really fun and educational outing, especially if you have children! Timbertown depicts the Colonial Era of a typical New South Wales village and was created to demonstrate both the achievements and the struggles of the pioneers in Australia’s Timber industry. Step back in time, ride on the steam train and horse drawn carriages and observe the timber craftsmen and blacksmith at work.
Entry is $23 for adults and $16 for children ($26 and $19 respectively on weekends, school holidays and Public Holidays).
How to get to Port Macquarie
If you will be travelling by train, you can reach Port Macquarie on the Sydney to Brisbane line. The train stops at Wauchope and from here it is 20 minutes to Port Macquarie by coach.
Places nearby Port Macquarie
If you will be doing a roadtrip down south or driving back to Sydney you may want to stop off at some nearby places. About 1.5-2 hours south of Port Macquarie you’ll find the beautiful Booti Booti National Park and Seal Rocks – two very much underrated but absolutely stunning parts of NSW that sport some incredible beaches!