What to do on A Weekend in Port Macquarie.
Each year for just one precious weekend I spend time with my 3 sisters. Just us. No partners, friends and especially no kids. It has been a tradition of ours now for about 5 or 6 years. The four of us together just like we were when we were young. Growing up isn’t always as fun as you thought, but sisters are ALWAYS fun and this weekend is the highlight of my year. Now that both of our parents have gone, its even more important. No matter what happens in between this is our tradition and the older we get the more precious each and every time is.
This year as last year we spent our weekend in Port Macquarie.
There is lots to do here and over time we have covered many of Port Macquarie’s gems but a trip up to Lighthouse beach to see if you can see Whales or Dolphins is always a great start. Watch the sunset or just marvel at the pristine beach. A drive up to the top of the world at North Brother Mountain, 25 km outside town is also a must. Look out over Port Macquarie and the hinterland with it’s far flung coastal paradise beaches north and south.
A lot of our weekend is devoted to food, of course. This years visits were great and if you are passing by any time soon you could drop into a couple of these cafes or look and look and look for Koalas, like we always seem to.
This time we flew arriving instead of driving the 4-5 hours. We were there in 40 minutes from Sydney and walked straight into Social Grounds Cafe.
It’s not just that it has great coffee Social Grounds has some of the best food you will find in Port Macquarie. It’s imaginative and interesting and it was hard to choose from the small blackboard menu. They’re also licensed and open at night and have all kinds of special events to keep them going. You might find a Big Burger night or the occasional musical interlude. Seems something’s always happening here breakfast, lunch and dinner. I had…..Poached Eggs, Mushroom, haloumi, pesto, avocado and dukkah $18, but the bacon and egg roll a $5 and the toasted Gluten Free fig and seed bread were just as good.
We took a beautiful drive 29 km out side of Port Macquarie past beaches and forest and on to sleepy Laurieton.
Just out of town, once off the main road you drive over the bridge and along the Camden Haven River past tiny suburbs and sandy sided roads to get to North Haven. During the low season it’s a relaxed town where throwing a fishing line in the river or going to lunch at Oasis by the River is just what the doctor ordered.
Here relaxation is expected, and we sat ourselves at the big windows that open onto the street and looked out to the River. I don’t think there could have been anything more perfect for us. It was hot and sunny and we drank a glass of wine and had lunch together. The menu is long with a lot of seafood. It moves all over the place with pies and sandwiches, pastas and even Vietnamese rice paper rolls. I suspect if you were camping nearby it would be a true Oasis devotee breakfast lunch or dinner ( well it would be for me if I had to camp). We ordered Soft shell Crab salad $22, oysters $2.50 each, Roasted Pork Belly with scallops $34 and Grilled Fish, salad and fries $20.
We visited some of our favourite haunts too. Bittersweet Cafe was on the list. We visited here last time.
Another not to be missed Cafe is Blue Poles in the hinterland village of Byabarra, NSW, it’s a 35 minute drive inland from Port Macquarie, on the way to the Ellenborough Falls – Southern Hemisphere’s (and Australia’s) tallest falls. It’s on the market sadly but the current owners Colleen and Ian have run it for 8 years. We booked for lunch and truly, sitting out on the balcony with the green rolling hills and mountains before us was one of those experiences you file away in your head and unpack when you need virtual a break. It’s beautiful. Colleen radiates so much charm that we found ourselves chatting to both her and Ian way after all the other diners had gone. She had us dreaming of running the restaurant and gallery ourselves. Just the four of us (sisters) out there in the hills. It wasn’t until we had viewed the whole property and climbed back into our car to leave that we came back to our senses (the music stopped playing and the birds stopped singing). We suddenly remembered we have lives and family to return to……. and the spell was broken. The Cafe has recently sold and will become The Byaburra bakery cafe.
Go for the food, go for the view, go for the drive but check the website first
A patch of Heaven…….
One more thing you should do if you visit Port Macquarie is go to The Artist Market in The Vines, held on the 4th Sunday of each month in the grounds of Cassegrain Winery. Here art of all kinds, jewellery, music, clothing, food and wine of course are on offer. This is a real market with handmade food and crafts.
Visit Cassegrain Winery, or help Elephants by dropping by the Elephant Valley Project stall, ( I volunteered for this group in Cambodia a few years ago). Shop for beautiful gifts, and check out the Soap Cupcakes. And guess what?. There is really delicious food too.
Below are hand made wool figures- spooky, no?
Have you ever been to Port Macquarie?
Do you have any kind of special family traditions?
Social Grounds Cafe: 1/151 Gordon St Port Macquarie, 0423 240 635
North Brother look out: Dooragan National Park 25km from Port Macquarie
Oasis by the River , 613 Ocean drive North Haven 02 6559 6918
Bittersweet cafe 2/ 48 watonga St, Port Macquarie 02 65824008
Blue Poles Cafe 1086 Comboyne Road, Byabarra Port Macquarie hinterland (02) 6587 1167
Artists in The Vines market: 4th Sunday each month 9am-2pm at Cassegrain Winery, 764 Fernbank Creek Road, PM
My Kitchen Stories and crew visited all of these places independently