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A trail from Port to Port

Soldiers Point Jetty, Port StephensCREDIT: Alesha Bradford

The Soldiers Point Jetty in Port Stephens.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

A trail from
Port to Port

Soldiers Point Jetty, Port Stephens CREDIT: Alesha Bradford

The Soldiers Point Jetty in Port Stephens.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Hashtags #lovensw #newsouthwales

From Port Stephens to Port Macquarie, on the New South Wales Mid North Coast, there’s much to discover: you can take a whale-watching cruise, feed cute animals, go on a sand dune adventure, learn about the culture of the local Worimi people and get lost in one of the largest hedge mazes in the world.  

Newcastle to Port Stephens 

Port Stephens is a 30-minute drive from Newcastle, or a 2.5-hour drive north of Sydney. Before you leave Newcastle, take a refreshing dip in the Newcastle Ocean Baths and grab a meal at Signal Box, which is located in a heritage building that once housed the railway station. Or visit FogHorn Brewhouse for a tour of its 1,800-litre custom-built brewery and a pub-style lunch that showcases Hunter Valley produce. Nearby, Earp Distillery makes gin, limoncello and absinthe, and is open for guided trips and tasting experiences.  

On the way to Port Stephens, spend the afternoon exploring the rolling landscape of the Worimi Conservation Lands with Sand Dune Adventures. This Aboriginal-owned business will give you hands-on insight into the culture and heritage of the Worimi people.  

For other family-friendly attractions, you can see cuddly animals and scaly reptiles at the Oakvale Wildlife Park. Get up close with koalas and quokkas, bottle-feed farm animals and learn about the native and exotic animals that live in this reserve. Or opt for a whale-watching experience or dolphin cruise to observe sea creatures in their coastal habitats.  

You might even see a pod of dolphins swimming by Rick Stein’s restaurant at Bannisters Port Stephens. Here, the menu showcases seafood caught in Nelson Bay, Stockton and other local stretches of water. Spend the night at Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary in deluxe glamping tents and you might wake up to koalas in the surrounding bushland.  

Forster-Tuncurry 

A two-hour drive north of Port Stephens, Forster is a coastal town with many picturesque attractions. Head to the Cape Hawke Lookout for panoramic views of the Great Lakes region. You’ll see Booti Booti National Park with its lush stretches of rainforest and access to beaches, picnic spots and biking trails. There are views of Wallingat National Park, too.  

For a refreshing drink, drop by The Coastal Brewing Co, the only microbrewery in the region. Its beers reflect the Barrington Coast area: there’s an IPA named after sandy Cellito beach, and the Wallis Weizen pays tribute to the brewery’s site and Tuncurry across the water (a surfing spot also known as Nine Mile Beach). If you’re visiting the brewery on weekends, stick around for Chappy's Warung food truck, which has a beer-friendly menu of Indonesian food for guests. 

Stockton Sand Dunes, Port Stephens CREDIT: Destination NSW

Quad biking experience on the Stockton Sand Dunes in the Worimi Conservation Lands, Port Stephens.

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Stockton Sand Dunes, Port Stephens CREDIT: Destination NSW

Quad biking experience on the Stockton Sand Dunes in the Worimi Conservation Lands, Port Stephens.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Forster-Tuncurry CREDIT: Destination NSW

Forster is another scenic stop on the Mid North Coast of NSW.

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Forster-Tuncurry CREDIT: Destination NSW

Forster is another scenic stop on the Mid North Coast of NSW.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Port Macquarie 

Drive to Port Macquarie along the Legendary Pacific Coast Drive, one of the most breathtaking routes in NSW. For your first stop, enjoy lunch at Cassegrain Winery’s restaurant, Twotriplefour, which offers a farm-to-table menu championing local produce. Afterwards, explore the gorgeous estate on foot or by horseback. At Billabong Zoo, sleepy koalas, spider monkeys and an albino wallaroo will be your playmates for the afternoon. Bill’s Fishhouse has a reputation for simple, elegant dishes — try the local oysters and prawns. Check into Sails Port Macquarie, a 4.5-star resort perched on the edge of the water with a private jetty and poolside cabanas.  

The Hastings River has shaped the way the local people have lived for thousands of years. Take a morning cruise with Port Jet Cruise Adventures for your chance to see dolphins, turtles, sea eagles and learn more about the river’s history. If you’re visiting from May to November, it’s worth joining a whale watching cruise as it’s the migration season for these captivating animals.  

Experience more of Port Macquarie’s pristine natural world at the Sea Acres National Park. The boardwalk is elevated seven metres above the ground and runs through this coastal rainforest, allowing a lush view of the canopy, as well as a chance to learn more about the site’s amazing ecosystem. There’s The Rainforest Cafe if you need to power up on a post-walk smoothie or coconut pancakes if you plan to sit in for brunch.  

For truly local fare, try LV’s on Clarence, a family-run farm and cafe that uses its own pasture-raised eggs and ham on the menu, and sweetens house-baked bread with its own sour cherry jam. The in-house pork is particularly good in the pho, and is served with local Asian greens. 

The Stunned Mullet also makes great use of regional flavours (like blueberries from nearby Rolland Plains). With dishes such as Mandagery Creek venison loin with smoked popcorn cream, dinner here will be a memorable occasion — especially thanks to its well-considered wine list.  

Spend a wholesome morning picking (and eating) five different types of strawberries at Ricardoes. Lunch at Whalebone Wharf for the best view in town: the restaurant serves seafood on the edge of Hastings River. Get lost at Bago Maze and Wine in Wauchope, it’s home to one of the world’s largest hedge mazes. Reward yourself for finding your way through 2,000 metres of pathways — book ahead to reserve a local cheese platter and a sampler of the winery’s drops. Then spend the evening at Telegraph Retreat, a series of isolated Australia Federation-style cottages on a sprawling property of native bushland, where kangaroos and wallabies roam.  

Sea Acres National Park, Port Macquarie CREDIT: Destination NSW

Couple enjoying a scenic walk through the Sea Acres National Park in Port Macquarie.

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Sea Acres National Park, Port Macquarie CREDIT: Destination NSW

Couple enjoying a scenic walk through the Sea Acres National Park in Port Macquarie.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Bago Maze and Winery, Wauchope CREDIT: Destination NSW

Aerial overlooking the Bago Maze at Bago Maze and Winery, Wauchope.

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Bago Maze and Winery, Wauchope CREDIT: Destination NSW

Aerial overlooking the Bago Maze at Bago Maze and Winery, Wauchope.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

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