Endless pristine waterways and sleepy seaside villages...
If you're staying in Port Macquarie and looking for a day trip this one has it all; nature walks, scenic lookouts, more beaches, a lake, National Parks plus fresh local seafood if that's your fancy. To get started head south out of Port Macquarie on Ocean Drive. This road hugs the coast passing through the coastal villages of Lake Cathie and Bonny Hills. Which in themselves are both worthy of a visit but today we're heading further south! On the drive there are spectacular coastal views from the headlands looking over some 14 kilometres of pristine beaches.
Your drive today is taking you to North Haven, Laurieton and Dunbogan. First stop is at the picturesque riverside park at North Haven, on the northern bank of the Camden Haven River, take a stroll along the breakwall or swim in the netted tidal pool to cool off. There are plenty of great cafe's to grab a coffee or a bite of morning tea.
Continuing on you drive into Laurieton which is nestled under the shadow of impressive North Brother Mountain. If you enjoy a good local market the Laurieton Riverwalk Markets are on the third Sunday of each month. As you pass through Laurieton town centre you'll continue your meander along the banks of the Camden Haven River before crossing the bridge and turning left onto The Boulevard to visit Dunbogan and Camden Head. The name Dunbogan makes this unique little village worth a visit regardless of it's waterside charms. Pop in to the Dunbogan Boatshed for a coffee, to feed the fish or to hire one of the many water vessels available to explore the pristine and extensive waterways.
If you continue on straight after the bridge along Diamond Head Road it will take you to Crowdy Bay National Park. All access is by unsealed roads and you would need several hours to explore this fascinating coastal park including Diamond Head. (4WD vehicle is recommended).
The Boulevard continues to Camden Head and Kattang Nature Reserve which has 58 hectares of coastal bush bordered by the vertical cliffs of Perpendicular Point. Charles Hamey Lookout provides views in all directions. The lookout is one of several in Kattang Nature Reserve which is well known for its signed walks, birdlife, spring wild flowers and a great spot for whale and dolphin watching.
At the end of Camden Head Road you arrive at Pilot Beach, this is the mouth of the Camden Haven River. Pilot Beach is inside the breakwall and offers sheltered swimming and is a popular beach for families. Wash House Beach is on the other side of the breakwall, a long stretch of beach with waves, shade from Silky Oaks and rock platforms to explore. This spot offers the best of both worlds.
Heading back towards Laurieton directly after the Dunbogan Bridge is the local marina which is a port of call for yachts travelling up and down the coast. Pop into Laurieton Riverside Seafoods for some fresh local seafood then head through Laurieton town centre and take a right onto Henry Kendall Drive to arrive at Henry Kendall Reserve on the shores of Stingray Creek to enjoy your picnic. From here you are close enough to take a stroll along the Queens Lake walking track.
While you are here a visit to the majestic North Brother Mountain in Dooragan National Park is essential. Turn right as you exit on Henry Kendall Drive onto Kew Road which becomes Ocean Drive. Continue on this road past the cemetery and take a left onto Captain Cook Bicentennial Drive. This winding sealed road will take you to the summit where viewing platforms provide extensive panoramas over the whole of the Camden Haven. There are three wheelchair accessible lookouts, a picnic area and three walks of varying length and difficulty within the park. The most popular being the Rainforest Loop, a 30 minute stroll through lush sub-tropical rainforest.
With your touring done for the day wind your way back to the base of the mountain and turn left to Kew where you will join the Pacific Highway for your return to Port Macquarie.
Day trip facts at a glance:
- Approx. Driving Time: 1.5 hours
- Approx. Duration: 4 hours but longer if including swimming, eating and leisurely sightseeing.
- Distance: 150km
- Experiences: Beaches, scenic lookouts, historic sites, lakes, cafes & restaurants
- Walking track Areas: Camden Head - Kattang Nature Reserve, Laurieton - Dooragan National Park & Queens Lake
- Road conditions: Mostly sealed road, (Unsealed to Charles Hamey Lookout and Crowdy Bay National Park)