Not quite halfway between Sydney and Brisbane on New South Wales' sunny coast, Port Macquarie is a quieter but nonetheless scenic destination for holidays full of swimming, relaxing and exploring native flora and fauna.
One of Port Macquarie's biggest draws is its local beaches. Town Beach is the most central, with easy access to facilities and nearby restaurants. Surfers love Flynn's Beach for its strong waves and surf club, while families come to swim and picnic. Shelly Beach is especially picturesque, bordered by a rainforest and featuring a tidal lagoon.
Nature lovers will find plenty to do in Port Macquarie. The Coastal Walk passes some of the town's most picturesque lookouts and attractions, including the 19th-century Tacking Point Lighthouse. Along the route, keep your eyes peeled for wallabies, goanna and whales during migration season. The Sea Acres Rainforest Centre features even more chances to spot regional plants and animals. Port Macquarie's large koala population can be seen at the family-owned Billabong Zoo Koala & Wildlife Park as well as the Koala Hospital, which focuses on species rehabilitation.
Port Macquarie wasn't always the holiday destination it is today: the town started as a penal colony in 1821. You can still visit the Trial Bay Gaol jail, which sits on a cliff edge and was built by convicts. The Port Macquarie Historical Museum is another convict-built structure where you can learn about the town's history through costumes and relics.