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Find joy on a Port Macquarie road trip

Sails Port Macquarie by RydgesCredit: Destination NSW

Scenic views of the Hastings River from Sails Port Macquarie, Port Macquarie.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Find joy on a Port Macquarie road trip

Sails Port Macquarie by Rydges Credit: Destination NSW

Scenic views of the Hastings River from Sails Port Macquarie, Port Macquarie.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Hashtags #feelnsw #newsouthwales

Take a relaxing, rewarding road trip along the southern sections of the Legendary Pacific Coast Drive, hugging the picturesque coastline north of Sydney to the beachside holiday destination of Port Macquarie, where laidback locals include heart-melting koalas. With a total driving time of less than five hours, you’ll never spend long in the car as you spend memorable days enjoying pretty beaches, great seasonal food in charming seaside towns and expanses of preserved natural beauty.

Activate holiday mode on the Central Coast

Start your epic drive by rejoicing in a string of beautiful beaches on the Central Coast, an hour’s drive north of Sydney. Refresh with an ocean swim or ease into a relaxed frame of mind with a stroll around the seaside villages of Ettalong Beach and Avoca and the larger beachside town of Terrigal.

Grab an energising caffeine hit — and maybe an exotic street food-inspired snack — at Lords of Pour in Ettalong, or linger in Terrigal for a long lunch at the likes of The Cowrie, where you can take in panoramic ocean views as you tuck into dishes spanning ocean trout tartare to sage and parmesan gnocchi with torched broccolini. Or take your taste buds to the Mediterranean via the Middle East and Asia at Yellowtail, a fabulous fine dining restaurant that offers tantalising lunch and dinner menus.

With an infinity pool spilling into a peaceful bush setting, The Outlook Cabana is a great base to relax and recharge before hitting the road again. The luxury cabin sleeps up to four people, and features an outdoor log fire you can cosy up beside on cool nights.

Embrace the new in Newcastle

Follow the curves of the coast northward for another hour to the vibrant port city of Newcastle. Learn about the changing face of Newcastle as you pedal through alleys splashed with street art on a cycling tour with Newy Rides. Then take a side trip back to your childhood at Mayfield Canteen, a novel café that has revived the roast of the day and other nostalgic takeaway classics, before joining fun-loving locals for an aperitivo at light-filled Humbug, a neighbourhood wine bar where the homemade pasta and noodles warm the soul.

Soak up more Newcastle history along with a slice of urban luxury at the slick QT Newcastle, where chic metallic furnishings reference the city’s mining heritage. Head up to the rooftop bar to bask in the golden glow of sunset with a cocktail in hand, then enjoy a hearty meal of local produce at in-house Jana Restaurant and Bar.

Avoca Beach, Central Coast Credit: Destination NSW

Woman heading out for a morning surf at Avoca Beach on the Central Coast.

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Avoca Beach, Central Coast Credit: Destination NSW

Woman heading out for a morning surf at Avoca Beach on the Central Coast.

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Jana Restaurant & Bar, QT Newcastle Credit: QT Hotels & Resorts

A selection of dishes from Jana Restaurant & Bar, QT Newcastle

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Jana Restaurant & Bar, QT Newcastle Credit: QT Hotels & Resorts

A selection of dishes from Jana Restaurant & Bar, QT Newcastle

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Pair nature with fabulous food in Port Stephens

Get back to nature in a big way in Port Stephens, less than an hour’s drive north of Newcastle. Get a buzz watching wild dolphins frolic in the Port Stephens–Great Lakes Marine Park on a cruise with Moonshadow–TQC Cruises, work up a sweat on the 2.2km-return Tomaree Head Summit Walk in Tomaree National Park, or simply seize the opportunity to laze on picture-perfect Zenith Beach.

Toast to a day well spent with an ice-cold Little Beach Lager at Below Deck marina café and bar. Perched over the azure waters of Nelson Bay and surrounded by bushland, it’s a dreamy location to catch the sunset. Then head upstairs to savour the setting along with contemporary dishes celebrating the region’s bounty at Little Beach Boathouse restaurant.

Retire for the night in luxury at The Anchorage in Corlette, where sweet dreams come easy after an indulgent visit to the hotel’s Spa Lucca.

Breeze along the Barrington Coast

Slow down to fully appreciate the spectacular scenery as you trace the blissful Barrington Coast, north of Port Stephens, perhaps pausing for an invigorating dip at Blueys Beach, one of the region’s prettiest stretches of sand. Or take a longer break to immerse yourself in nature on the 7.3km Booti Hill and Wallis Lake Walking Track in Booti Booti National Park, which pairs inspiring views with sweet swimming spots.

Continue on the coast road to the seaside town of Forster, where the soothing blue waters of Wallis Creek set the tone for a relaxing long lunch at Mediterranean-inspired Isola Riva, housed in a historic boatshed overlooking the water. Or keep it casual with an ultra-fresh fish and chips feast by the water at Wallis Lake Fishermen’s Co-op, just across the Coolongolook River in Tuncurry.

Push on to Port Macquarie for the night, or check into Forster’s Dorsal Hotel, where you can wake up with the sun in its ocean-facing rooms, refreshed and ready for your final leg of the trip.

Peace out in Port Macquarie

Savour the last hour or so of your road trip as you drive past the lush farms, coastal national parks and lazy rivers of the Manning Valley on your way to Port Macquarie. When you arrive, take your cues from resident koalas — which you might be lucky enough to spot along the 1.3km rainforest boardwalk in Sea Acres National Park — and relax.

A leisurely walk along the expansive Lighthouse Beach is a great way to wind down, followed by a moreish seafood meal at Bills Fishhouse and Bar or the iconic Whalebone Wharf, where you can slurp oysters to your heart’s content. Top off your trip with a calming soak in the private outdoor spa pool of your quaint cottage at Telegraph Retreat, just 15 minutes north of town. Or, soak up waterfront views from the sophisticated, Sails Port Macquarie

Tomaree Head Summit Walk, Port Stephens Credit: Destination NSW

Couple enjoying the coastal views along Tomaree Head Summit Walk, Port Stephens.

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Tomaree Head Summit Walk, Port Stephens Credit: Destination NSW

Couple enjoying the coastal views along Tomaree Head Summit Walk, Port Stephens.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Whalebone Wharf, Port Macquarie Credit: Destination NSW

The interior of the Whalebone Wharf seafood restaurant with views across Hastings River, Port Macquarie.

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Whalebone Wharf, Port Macquarie Credit: Destination NSW

The interior of the Whalebone Wharf seafood restaurant with views across Hastings River, Port Macquarie.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

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