Foodie hot spot and wine-lovers destination

Port Macquarie has emerged a dining, fine wine and craft beer destination for those seeking more than just fun in the sun.

Port Macquarie’s 15 glorious beaches have delighted holiday-makers for decades, however those who haven’t visited in a while can expect some gourmet surprises.

The mid-north coast town has become a foodie hot spot and wine-lover destination. Expect wineries, boutique breweries, artisan cheese and chocolate makers, and oysters harvested fresh from the rivers.

Kate Wood-Foye, area director of sales and marketing at Rydges Hotels and Resorts, says the change in Port has been remarkable.

‘‘Port Macquarie’s lifestyle is amazing, the beaches are stunning and it has a fantastic food and wine culture, which people are often surprised about,’’ she says.

Wood-Foye describes Port as a ‘‘slice of the city right on the coast’’. It has the dining options to back up such a claim, including two hatted restaurants.

The Stunned Mullet serves modern Australian fare from its beautiful Town Beach location, while Fusion 7 uses local produce to create refined international dishes.

Rydges Port Macquarie’s own Zebu Bar + Grill missed being awarded a hat last year by just one point. Not that guests seem to care. Zebu’s food and selection of tap beers and cocktails are complemented by stunning views over the mouth of the Hastings River and the Pacific Ocean.

For a more laid-back vibe, the everpopular Beach House is a fave hangout, serving tasty dishes and craft beers to a crowd chillaxing to tunes spun by local DJs.

Port Macquarie’s food markets and calendar of events showcases the region’s produce.

Last year’s Tastings on Hastings included 115 local producers. Slice of Haven, which takes place 30 kilometres south of Port in Camden Haven, is all about beautiful seafood and oysters.

All this gastronomy in paradise is attracting a new wave of visitors.

‘‘It’s not just older people travelling here,’’ says Wood-Foye. ‘‘We’re a magnet for those seeking the ultimate coastal experience.

‘‘I’d say the sector that’s growing the most would be the 30s to 45s – with and without children.’’

The town has got kids covered, though, especially if they like koalas.

There’s Billabong Zoo, the Koala Hospital (dedicated to the care and preservation of koalas) and the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail.

More than 50 one-metre-high fibreglass koala sculptures lead people to all sorts of interesting places in the area, from the mountains to the sea.

If parents get a bit tired of koalas, Cassegrain and Long Point wineries offer local art alongside wine tasting, while Bago Vineyards boasts a two-kilometre hedge maze that children love to get lost in while their parents sip Verdelho.

If beers are more your thing, just down the road is the Black Duck Brewery and the Little Brewing Company, which both produce flavoursome drops.

Port also dishes up traditional beach fun in spades. There’s surfing, jet boating, river cruising and whale watching – as well as camel and horse rides along the sand.

And then there’s the fishing: the Hastings and Camden Haven rivers, along with coastal waters, support bream, blackfish, tailor, whiting and flathead.

For history lovers, Port’s appeal never changes. The town, founded in 1821, was a convict settlement until 1840, and boasts many original buildings including homesteads, churches and museums. Just park the car and walk around town.


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