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Posted on 29 June, 2017 in Updates, Tips & Tricks

Top 15 things to do in Port Macquarie during Winter

By Binstadt Steve

Our top picks of Winter Activites

Updated 10 August, 2018.

If you’re looking for something to get the family out of the house this weekend, here are some top ideas for things to do in Port Macquarie, even during winter!Port Macquarie is a beautiful place to live or to holiday with plenty of activities and things to do to keep you busy throughout the year. With it’s pristine kid-friendly beaches and picnic spots, and proximity to Sydney and Newcastle, Port has long been considered to be a top Summer holiday destination. But our mild Winters and seemingly endless Sunny weather also make it a great place to be in the cooler months, too!

1. Whale Watching

Due to its idyllic coastal location and the added benefit of many elevated viewing spots along the coast, Port Macquarie is one of the top places in New South Whales for whale watching. From May to November, you’re likely to spot a humpback whale in the waters off Port Macquarie, as thousands of this magnificent mammal make their yearly migration north to warmer waters. For a once in a lifetime experience, why not book in for a whale watching tour with one of the local whale watching boats. If boats aren’t your thing, you can also take advantage of the many parks and lookouts along the coastline. Some of the best spots around Port Macquarie include Tacking Point Lighthouse, Perpendicular Point and Charles Hamey lookout.  You can read more information about the best vantage points as well as book a whale watching tour by heading to the Visit NSW website.

2. Head for the hills

Port Macquarie is lucky to be situated close to the rolling lush green hills of the Hastings Valley, and of course the fresh local produce that flourishes in this region.  This weekend, hit the road and head for the hills around Port Macquarie. Head to Comboyne and pick up some produce from roadside vendors and take a nosey through The Old Church art gallery (open Sundays). On the way back, make a pit stop at The Byabarra for a wood fired pizza and soak up the sweeping views across the Hastings Valley hinterland.

3. Ricardoes Tomatoes

As we mentioned above, Port Macquarie is situated really close to the Hastings Valley,  and is also only short drive from the Manning Valley to the South. Ricardoes Tomatoes is a family-run business and is located just an easy 10 minutes’ drive North of Port Macquarie, on the Pacific Highway. Take the kids and pop up to Ricardoes to pick your own hydroponically-grown strawberries. There is nothing like tasting a strawberry picked straight from the vine, and we think they taste even better when you know you’ve picked it yourself! Entry to Ricardoes is free and you only pay for what you pick. While you are there you can also enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and some morning or afternoon tea at Cafe Red – we recommend the scones with cream and jam made from Ricardoes’  Strawberries – of course! You can also pick up some wonderful gourmet food products, sourced from many of the local farms and suppliers around the region.

4. Farm gate tours

Supporting our local farmers has never been more important, and it’s a really interesting experience to visit a farm and see where our food comes from. Kids get great delight from watching how cows get milked or checking out the hen house where all those eggs come from. Farmers from the Hastings Region participate in the Hastings Landcare Farm Gate tour every June Long Weekend. Over the course of the weekend, you can stop in at a variety of local farms and learn about the farming process – it’s usually a hands-on experience and perfect for kids of all ages! Purchase your ticket and program from The Glasshouse and plan out your June Long Weekend in the Hastings Valley, it’s a great way to see some beautiful country-side and learn more about where the food we eat comes from, and the work involved. Proceeds from the weekend are donated to the Hastings Landcare fund.

5. Explore the Hastings River

There are lots of different options for how to explore the Hastings River, but we recommend trying a boat tour at least once. There are heaps of options for boat trips on the Hastings River, including the famous Chinese Junk sunset cruise, Jet Boat Rides, Whale and Dolphin Watching and Wildlife tours. For those who want to combine their love or wine and water views, why not try the Wharf to Winery cruise? If you’d like to see the Hastings River from the air, how about taking a trip with Port Sea Planes – you’re almost guaranteed to spot a whale or two, and it’s a once in a lifetime experience that you’ll never forget.

6. Local Markets

Port Macquarie is full to the brim with creative people which means you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to locally made gifts, artwork and fashion. Check out the local artist markets at the Maritime Museum on the fourth Sunday of the month, or head to one of the many other markets and grab a one-off piece from local fashion designers, painters, photographers and crafters. Read our list of top markets.

7. Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail

The Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail is an arts project that celebrates an animal that has become synonymous with our region – the beautiful Koala. The project was created by Arts and Health Australia, an organisation whose aim is to use the arts as a way of inspiring health in people from all walks of life. In essence, the Hello Koalas Sculpture trail is designed to bring an element of surprise and delight to locals and visitors of our region, as they stumble upon the beautifully-painted koala sculptures in parks, gardens and at businesses in Port Macquarie. There are more than 60 sculptures dotted around Port Macquarie. Read more about the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail and Festival.

8. Visit a vineyard or brewery

Owing to its fertile location and climate, Port Macquarie plays host to a long list of wineries, vineyards and breweries, all within a stone’s throw from the town centre. If wine is your thing, take a day trip to Bago Vineyards and stroll through the labyrinth while you’re there. Or why not visit Douglasvale Historic Homestead and Vineyard for a tour followed by a tipple. You can find more information about local wineries and vineyards on the Visit NSW website. If you consider yourself a beer connoisseur, or fancy learning a thing or two about brews, head to Black Duck Brewery or the recently-opened Moorebeer Brewery. Hot tip – make sure you check out the individual vineyard or brewery opening hours first before making the trip.

9. Take a stroll

There are so many different walking trails throughout Port Macquarie to suit all types of fitness levels. Why not set a goal to try one every month throughout Winter? It’s a fantastic way to explore the region while keeping active at the same time! Check out the interactive walking trails map on the Port Macquarie Hastings Council website and take your pick from 20 different walks, or read our list of our favourite trails.

Photo of people completing Port Macquarie Coastal walk
Image courtesy of Port Macquarie Hastings Council.

10. Meet a koala

Did you know that Port Macquarie is the location of the first hospital in the world dedicated to the care of Koalas? Located in the grounds of Roto House, the hospital has a treatment room, eight Intensive Care Units, a 24 Hour Rescue and Treatment operation and multiple recovery yards. If you haven’t been to the Koala Hospital before, put it on your list of things to do this weekend. Not only will you get to see some of these gorgeous furry creatures, you will also have the opportunity to make a donation to this very worthy cause. Visitors are welcomed at the Koala Hospital every day of the year (excluding Christmas Day) between 8am and 4.30pm. Guided tours of the hospital are held daily at 3pm.

11. Get cultured

When the winter weather is not so good outside, a trip to the Glasshouse is definitely on the cards! The Glasshouse Regional Gallery presents around 20 to 25 diverse exhibitions each year featuring contemporary, indigenous, historical, traditional, design and sculptural artworks as well as a number of prominent social history exhibitions. Most of the exhibitions are free and some feature public programs such as artist talks and workshops. For more information check out the Glasshouse Port Macquarie website.

12. Explore the local history

If you’re interested in learning about local history, why not take a visit to the Port Macquarie Museum and check out their current exhibitions. With more than 14 rooms and galleries to explore, make sure you allow at least an hour for your visit! Entry fees are low and assist the Port Macquarie Historical Society to care for the heritage listed museum building and the collections contained within. Historic Roto House is another great spot to put on your list – this weatherboard cottage was built by surveyor John Flynn (who now has a beach named after him) and is a great insight into the heritage of Port Macquarie. The house is now managed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife service and entry is via donation. Roto House also shares its location with the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, so you could visit both in the same day if you so wish!

13. Wet a line

Port Macquarie has long had a reputation as a great spot for fishing due to its temperate climate. Fishing is a fantastic activity for you to do solo and get some quiet time to yourself, or can also be a group activity for the whole family! During the Winter months, beach and rock fishing are the best option, when you’re likely to nab a Tailor, Bream or Mulloway.  You could also try fishing the Hastings River or throwing in a line off the break wall or one of the many wharves and jetties. Hot tip – follow Ned Kelly’s Bait ‘n’ Tackle on Facebook for updates on what’s biting and where!

14. Wine and Dine

If you love food, wine and good coffee, look no further than the Port Macquarie region. Take your pick from dozens of stunning waterfront dining locations, such as Aqua Restaurant at The Westport Club, Salty Crew at Town Beach or take a drive to Dunbogan Boat Shed. For something more casual, pick up a haul of fish and chips and pull up a picnic rug at the Town Green.  The views are amazing and the food is equally as spectacular. For a great coffee, check out Hastings Coffee Co. at The Westport Club. Not only will you enjoy barista-made brews with a water view, you can also take home a loaf of house-made sourdough and decadent handmade pastries!

Aqua blog graphic

15. Get cosy

We don’t need to tell you that winter is the ideal time to rug up, sit by an open fire and read a good book. If you enjoy a beverage with your open fire, why not come and check out Jimmy’s Bar & Lounge at The Westport Club. Featuring an extensive wine and cocktail list and over 100 Whiskeys to choose from, Jimmy’s enjoys uninterrupted views of the Hastings River no matter what the weather outside is like. Did we mention that Jimmy’s also has a toasty warm fire for you to enjoy?

That concludes our list of things to do in Port Macquarie during Winter…

There you have it – our top 15 things to do in Port Macquarie during the cooler months. As you can see,  there’s heaps of activities to keep the whole family occupied throughout Winter in our region. Why not print this list out and aspire to try one of them each weekend during Winter?

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