A few thoughts on how slowing down can find the essence of fun and laughter, and the special memories we all share — told through a long weekend in Port Macquarie, NSW Australia. No itinerary just a beautiful place.
When an opportunity arose to take the family up the coast, I packed up the family and my camera gear. Then we got in the car and traveled to Port Macquarie in New South Wales Australia – a regional coastal town on the mid north coast. We’d been there a few times before but this time it was very different as it was last minute and we stopped everything to slow down a little and enjoy life.
There were no specific items on our itinerary other than Jazz in the Bago Vineyards that my wife had previously read about. If we had more time I am sure my wife would have carried an extensive checklist of must-sees and dos and of course a map with the best shopping locations. I’m not sure if it’s because of the smaller coastal size of Port Macquarie however for this trip there was no such need for planning.
Maybe we just needed a break from such structured life that involves all the chores that comes with raising a young family. A break where we can slow down and appreciate the little things, those details we often overlook that creates laughter, smiles and fun times both us and the kids will look back on forever.
Such memories were found in Port Macquarie.
When we first arrived in town, we had to stop by Ricardoes to pick some fresh strawberries and give the kids a fresh food experience as well as taking home a yummy snack. Take a farm tour, have lunch or just grab some tomatoes or strawberries plenty of fun at Riccardoes and for the strawberries we made sure we picked up some rich chocolate sauce to go with. The kids just enjoyed picking and nibbling at the beautiful fresh strawberries – so did we.
From the strawberries we strolled along the coastal walk that stretches 9km starting at the iconic break wall on Town Green, where you can see colourful graffiti rocks then takes you past eight beaches ending at Lighthouse Beach. However, a 3yo and 5yo’s patience grows thin and there was no chance of doing the whole walk. We enjoyed the early morning gray, people cycled, people walked, people fished and people skated. Stay around long enough and there will be early morning drama with a 5yo getting stuck in the bowl at skate park. Oh that 5yo was my son.
The next morning we stumbled across Cruise Adventures. Unaware of the Southerly winds blowing we thought it would be a good idea to share a morning with the gentle giants of the sea and witness the beauty of the humpback whales migrating to warmer waters. A large swell awaited us and the Cruise Adventures lived up to its name sake. My 3 year old son laughed and joked all the way as we jumped through air, my 5yo son laughed for most part however when the boat stopped became a little sick. However, that did not dampen our spirits as we were accompanied by a juvenile humpback whale splashing about and checking us out. The crew at Cruise Adventures (Port Macquarie) were professional and did everything to respect the beautiful marine life and also give us a great time. If you visit Port Macquarie between May and November be sure to call up Cruise Adventures and experience the migrating whales up close for yourself.
Before we knew it was Sunday afternoon and we were driving up a dirt road to the Bago Vineyards. The kids fell asleep before we got there and my wife and I enjoyed a quiet wine and cheese platter whilst sitting in the beautiful park listening to some fine jazz tunes.
As the kids started to wake up the bottle of wine was empty and it was time to explore the Bago maze. This is not a token maze and boy do we get lost. My advice study the maze before you go in as you may find yourself going in circles over and over as we did. I guess not making it to the end allows us the excuse to return to this majestic vineyard.
Port Macquarie struck me as an almost perfect spot to dose oneself with a little sun and outdoor activity. I felt the best way to appreciate it was by getting out and enjoying nature and the elements we are so privileged to live in. There is an endless list of activities and in our small trip we did not even touch the surface.
Before heading back we had to visit the famous Tacking Point Lighthouse built in 1879. We approached slowly by car and when we turned corner the little white house sit upon the hill so perfectly. My little one called out.
“Is that all it is, it so small, when can we go to the skate park.”
Oh how the beautiful things can be lost on the little ones. I just wish I had more time as I ran around the house snapping picture from whatever angle I could in a ten minute time frame. I could have stayed there with a picnic all day but it seems that only I had this inclination as I was out voted 3 to 1.
The best food guides don’t tell you to go to Port Macquarie for fine wine and great meals, however we found both in this location. Whether it’s a simple slider at LV’s on Clarence, a relaxing drink at Restaurant Splash or a romantic delight at Grape and Petal we experienced the best food and wine we have had for some time rivalling many of the great cities.
We left Port Macquarie feeling that we had appreciated the essence of the place and this was all done with no itinerary or single plan. Sure, we barely touched the surface of what is on offer but that is the beauty of the location – there is so much to do.
OH almost forgot. For the budding photographer I always travel light so this trip I only took an Olympus OMD E-M5, 17mm 1.8 prime and my 12-50mm kit lens weather proofed for the wet occasions. My day bag an F-Stop Guru back pack that easily takes this and all the needs of a father of 2 needs on a day trip.