How long has it been since you have ventured into our idyllic part of the world? We have some hidden gem locations you are going to love and it all starts in the Camden Haven, 40 minutes south of Port Macquarie.
For those in the region head to Laurieton, if you are driving north from Sydney, get off the Pacific Highway at the Kew exit. Head along Ocean Drive and turn onto Captain Cook Bicentennial Drive, head to the the summit of North Brother Mountain in the Dooragan National Park, where the panoramic views are breathtaking. There are walking trails to discover at the top of the mountain, some of these trails head down the mountain so remember there could be a challenging climb back to the top! Para gliders are also a regular sight taking off from the top. Great place also for a picnic.
Fancy a view now from a different perspective to appreciate just how high you were on North Brother Mountain? Continue back along Ocean Drive and head through Bonny Hills and head to Waterloo Creek Road, Jolly Nose. A stroll along the Queens Lake walking track will have you appreciating the majestic mountain whilst enjoying the stunning peaceful lake foreshore. Be warned once discovered, you might not want to leave the natural beauty of the lake. Ideal for swimming, bird watching, boating and a picnic.
Feeling peckish for a bite to eat with a coastal lake view? Next stop is Lake Cathie, head back along Ocean Drive towards Port Macquarie. Lake Cathie's large saltwater lake is the second largest estuarine salt march area in NSW. Periodically opened to the sea, the warm shallow waters are ideal for young children and there are lots of picnic tables and barbecues around the shore. You can also grab some fish and chips and other takeaway favourites across the road from the park facilities.
Staying on the scenic Ocean Drive and heading north towards Port Macquarie, continue along and turn right onto Matthew Flinders Drive (after you pass the Port Macquarie Golf Club). Follow the signs to Tacking Point Lighthouse on Lighthouse Road where there is a platform overlooking Lighthouse Beach. From here you can see south down the coast and catch another view of North Brother Mountain. This lookout is a favourite spot for locals and visitors anytime of the year, but if you are fortunate to be visiting during May to November you are likely to have the thrill of seeing Humpback Whales breaching on their migration journey. Be sure to also take a look at the heritage site of where the Lighthouse Keepers cottage use to be. This location is also the last stop of our popular Coastal Walk which is a 9km walk (one way) from Port Macquarie taking in 9 beaches along the way.
Can you see the camels? Yes Camels just south of the large rocks on Lighthouse Beach. Another great spectacle to witness from this stunning beach is the Port Camel Safaris as they meander along the shoreline just south of the Watonga Rocks.
A change of scenery now as you continue along Lighthouse Road and take a right onto Pacific Drive and continue heading towards Port Macquarie. A visit to Sea Acres Rainforest Centre gives you a view from another viewing platform, this one is elevated on a 1.3km loop through a rare subtropical rainforest. This is a tranquil and magical rainforest experience, where you can explore at your own pace or take a guided tour. Within these beautiful surrounds is their Rainforest Cafe offering delicious coffee and baked treats - a little oasis set within the rainforest canopy. There is also a Gift Shop and Boardwalk entry fees apply.
Continuing with the rainforest theme, you don't have to continue too far along Pacific Drive before you turn right onto Shelly Beach Road where the rainforest meets the sea at Shelly Beach. This natural tidal lagoon and long stretch of white sandy beach is surrounded by rainforests and home to resident bush turkeys and goannas. There are public artworks on display in recognition of the love and care that resident Harry Thompson gave to this special part of our coastline, along with plenty of shady spots to enjoy picnics and barbecue facilities.
When you work up the motivation to leave the surrounds of Shelly Beach continue right along Pacific Drive and take in the views of the coastline until you come to Town Beach. This is the last stop and the perfect spot to start your walk towards the captivating Town Beach Breakwall. Follow the path along the north end of Town Beach and you will arrive at the colourful grafitti rocks, forever changing where holiday makers make tributes to fond memories and moments of times spent in our region. The skate park is another favourite spot to marvel at the energetic action on display.