Port Macquarie is a coastal town in the local government area of Port Macquarie-Hastings. It is located on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, Australia, about 390 km (242 mi) north of Sydney, and 570 km (354 mi) south of Brisbane. The town is located on the Tasman Sea coast, at the mouth of the Hastings River, and at the eastern end of the Oxley Highway (B56). The town with its suburbs had a population of 47,973 in June 2018.
New South Wales
Clockwise from top. Entrance to Kooloonbung Creek, Town Beach, and intersection of Clarence & Horton Streets, featuring Majestic Cinemas in the Ritz Centre
Location in New South Wales
|Elevation||5 m (16 ft)|
|LGA(s)||Port Macquarie-Hastings Council|
|State electorate(s)||Port Macquarie|
Port Macquarie sits within Birpai (Biripi, Birripai, Bripi, Biripai, Birrbay) Country, and the Birpai people are recognised as the traditional custodians of the land on which Port Macquarie is located.
The site of Port Macquarie was first visited by Europeans in 1818 when John Oxley reached the Pacific Ocean from the interior, after his journey to explore inland New South Wales. He named the location after the Governor of New South Wales, Lachlan Macquarie.
Oxley noted that "the port abounds with fish, the sharks were larger and more numerous than I have ever before observed. The forest hills and rising grounds abounded with large kangaroos and the marshes afford shelter and support to innumerable wildfowl. Independent of the Hastings River, the area is generally well watered, there is a fine spring at the very entrance to the Port."
In 1821, Port Macquarie was founded as a penal settlement, replacing Newcastle as the destination for convicts who had committed secondary crimes in New South Wales. Newcastle, which had fulfilled this role for the previous two decades, had lost the features required for a place for dumping irredeemable criminals, that being isolation, which was lost as the Hunter Region was opened up to farmers, and large amounts of hard labour, which had diminished as the cedar in the area ran out and the settlement grew in size. Port Macquarie, however, with its thick bush, tough terrain and local aborigines that were keen to return escaping prisoners in return for tobacco and blankets, provided large amounts of both isolation and hard labour to keep the criminals in control. Under its first commandant, Francis Allman, who was fond of flogging, the settlement became a hell, where the convicts had limited liberties, especially in regard to being in possession of letters and writing papers, which could get a convict up to 100 lashes.
The penal settlement lasted from April 1820 to c. 15 August 1830. The settlement peaked with 1500 convicts by 1825 but by 1828 this had fallen to 530. The commanders of the settlement were:
- Francis Allman, March 1821–1824
- Captain Rolland succeeded Allman in April 1824
- Lieutenant Carmac, 1824
- Henry Gillman in January 1824–
- Archibald Clunes Innes 1826–1827
Because of the lack of liberties of the settlement, Governor Ralph Darling quickly sent there many 'specials' or literate convicts with a decent education who had voiced negative views about him. Later on in the settlement's history, in the 1830s, disabled convicts started to arrive. One-armed men would be grouped together and required to break stones, men with wooden legs would become delivery men, and the blind would often be given tasks during the night which they performed more skilfully than those with sight.
In 1823 the first sugar cane to be cultivated in Australia was planted there. The region was first opened to settlers in 1830 and later on in the decade the penal settlement was closed in favour of a new penal settlement at Moreton Bay. Settlers quickly took advantage of the area's good pastoral land, timber resources and fisheries.
St Thomas's Anglican Church is a Georgian building designed by Francis Greenway and built, under the supervision of military engineer Lieutenant T. Owen, by convicts from 1824 to 1828. This church is among the oldest in Australia and one of the few remaining convict-built churches. Inside there are red cedar box pews that were peculiar to that period in church architecture. The Walker pipe organ is the only one of its type in the southern hemisphere. The castellated tower permits excellent views of the coastline, town and river. This church is now classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW) and has been registered on the National Estate heritage list.
In 1830 Major Archibald Clunes Innes built Lake Innes House Ruins which grew over the next decade into a luxurious establishment and attracted many notable visitors. It is now a ruin and is managed by the NSW Parks and Wildlife Service.
In 1840 the "Wool Road" from the Northern Tablelands was under construction to enable wool and other produce to be shipped from the port. Port Macquarie was declared a municipality in 1887, but the town never progressed as a port owing to a notorious coastal bar across the mouth of the river.
Over 20 shipwrecks occurred in the Tacking Point area before a lighthouse was designed by James Barnet and erected there in 1879 by Shepard and Mortley. Tacking Point Lighthouse is classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW).
Writer Louis Becke was born and grew up in the town in the 1860s and later recalled those days, saying Port Macquarie was an,
old-time town ... a quaint, sleepy little place of six hundred inhabitants, who spend their days in fishing and waiting for better times. There are two or three fairly good hotels, very pretty scenery along the coast and up the river, and a stranger can pass a month without suffering from ennui – that is, of course, if he is fond of fishing and shooting; if he is not, he should avoid going there, for it is the dullest coast town in New South Wales.
Port Macquarie has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:
The estimated urban population of Port Macquarie was 47,973 as at June 2018, having grown 1.8% on prior year and from 41,496 over the prior decade. Port Macquarie is expected to be the fastest growing place in New South Wales. The city is expected to grow from an estimated 43,655 people in 2009 to 58,888 in 2027.
Port Macquarie is a coastal destination, known for its extensive beaches and waterways. The town is also known for its koala population, being the home to the Billabong Zoo (a wildlife park and koala breeding center) and the Koala Preservation Society's Koala Hospital, caring for koalas injured through bushfire, dog attacks and collisions with vehicles.
In 2016 the war memorial was relocated from Town Green to its original location at the intersection of Clarence and Horton Streets.
The residential suburbs stretch to Lighthouse Beach in the south, Thrumster to the west and to North Shore, on the northern bank of the river. In July 2010, Sovereign Hills began development in the west.
Sister and friendship cities
- Handa, Aichi, Japan
Suburbs and localities
Central business district
Port Macquarie's central business district contains two shopping centres, many specialty stores, a marina, and the starting point for the 9 km coastal walk, a scenic walking trail that travels from Westport Park, through the Port Macquarie CBD to Tacking Point Lighthouse. The Glasshouse, a centrally located arts, conference and entertainment centre, includes a visitor-information facility. Bus services link the city with Laurieton, Wauchope, Kempsey, Lake Cathie and Bonny Hills.
Transit Hill to the south is crowned by telecommunication towers. The district is the site of two arterial roads which provide a direct link between Lighthouse Beach and Port Macquarie CBD. The main intersection of Pacific and Kennedy Drive is situated midway up Transit Hill. It is an area of high-priced real estate owing to ocean and city views. Transit Hill borders Lighthouse Beach, Dahlsford, Shelly Beach and Waniora.
Sovereign Hills is a newer development in Port Macquarie, between the locality of Thrumster to the east, and the Pacific Highway to the west. Its development is currently managed by the Lewis Land Group. Most recent press releases have suggested that the area will have around 2500 homes when complete.
St Joseph's Regional College moved from its previous location on Warlters Street to Sovereign Hills in 2009. A town centre is planned for opening in 2019, and has been advertised to initially include a supermarket, pharmacy and a café. The local organisation, Hastings Co-Op has announced that they will operate the supermarket to be built in this new town centre.
Beaches and attractions
Beaches (in order from north to south) are: North Shore, Town Beach, Oxley Beach, Rocky Beach, Flynns Beach, Nobbys Beach, Shelly Beach, Miners Beach (unofficial clothing-optional) and Lighthouse Beach. Only Town, Flynns and Lighthouse Beaches are manned by Surf Life Saving Clubs. Lighthouse Beach is patrolled at only the northern end. Dogs can be walked off-leash at Lighthouse Beach, south of Watonga Rocks, excluding sections at the northern end and Nobbys Beach.
Sea Acres National Park is adjacent to Shelly Beach and contains a Visitor Centre with access controlled rainforest boardwalk.
Port Macquarie has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) with warm, humid summers and mild winters, with frequent rainfall spread throughout the year.
|Climate data for Port Macquarie (Port Macquarie Airport AWS, 1995–2017)|
|Record high °C (°F)||41.9
|Average high °C (°F)||27.7
|Average low °C (°F)||18.4
|Record low °C (°F)||9.5
|Average rainfall mm (inches)||155.3
|Average precipitation days||12.2||13.2||15.2||13.5||13.0||11.8||10.5||8.5||9.3||10.2||13.9||12.5||143.8|
|Average afternoon relative humidity (%)||65||66||65||64||61||60||55||52||56||59||65||64||61|
|Source: Bureau of Meteorology|
Previous site, Port Macquarie (Hill Street). This site is now closed and data is now taken from the airport AWS which is located 4.4 km away.
|Climate data for Port Macquarie (Hill Street) – Temperature data 1907–2003, rainfall data 1840–2010|
|Record high °C (°F)||41.2
|Average high °C (°F)||25.7
|Average low °C (°F)||18.3
|Record low °C (°F)||10.0
|Average rainfall mm (inches)||152.3
|Average precipitation days||12.4||13.2||14.1||12.6||11.3||10.0||9.1||8.5||8.8||10.5||11.0||11.2||149.0|
|Average afternoon relative humidity (%)||75||75||74||70||68||66||63||62||66||70||73||75||70|
|Source: Bureau of Meteorology|
- Bangalay Child Care Centre Port Macquarie
- Blooming Kids Early Learning and Long Day Care Centre
- Columba Cottage Early Learning Centre
- Fernhill Road Preschool and Long Day Care Centre
- Goodstart Early Learning Port Macquarie
- Hastings Preschool and Long Day Care Centre
- Joey's House Early Education Centre
- Lighthouse Child Care Centre
- Moruya Drive Child Care Centre
- Port Macquarie Community Preschool
- Port Macquarie Early Learning Centre
- Portside Preschool and Long Day Care Centre
- St Agnes Early Education Centre
- St.Joseph's Family Services
- St.Joseph's Preschool and Long Day Care Centre
Other private schools
Tertiary educational facilities
Three universities and TAFE offer a range of courses in Port Macquarie, as well as other vocational institutions. Charles Sturt University opened a new campus in 2016, and offers courses in Creative Industries, Psychology, Medical Imaging and Medical Radiation Science, Environmental Sciences, Paramedicine, Social Work, Business Studies and Accounting, Criminal Justice Studies, Exercise Sports Science and Physiotherapy, among others. Nursing will be offered from 2020. There is a TAFE campus for further qualifications and pathway options into higher education. Courses are also offered by the University of Newcastle through the TAFE campus. The University of New South Wales has run a clinical school from Port Macquarie since 2007, and now runs the complete six-year medical degree from this Campus. The growth in tertiary educational options in the region has been in response to significant research designed to retain young people in the area and contribute to the growth of the educational standards for the Hastings region.
Port Macquarie Airport (4 km [2.5 mi] west of town) has regular flights to Sydney with QantasLink (5 times daily) and Virgin Australia (twice daily), and to Lord Howe Island with QantasLink and Brisbane with Virgin Australia.
There is no railway station in Port Macquarie. However, the Port Macquarie CBD and northern suburbs are served by the nearby Wauchope railway station (17 km west of town), and the southern suburbs including satellite towns of Lake Cathie and Laurieton are served by Kendall railway station (30 km [19 mi] southwest). Both stations are on the North Coast Line operated by NSW TrainLink with 3 services daily in each direction towards either Newcastle and Sydney or northwards to Grafton, with travel time to Sydney of approximately 6 hours. There is a railway-operated connecting bus service available from Wauchope railway station to the Port Macquarie CBD.
Four significant nearby road projects have been completed in recent years to help with road traffic issues in the area:
- Pacific Highway – Karuah to Bulahdelah section 2 and 3 (Karuah to Bulahdelah section 1 – Completed December 2006).
- Pacific Highway – Bulahdelah Bypass The Bulahdelah bypass/upgrade fills the only missing Pacific Highway link between Hexham and Port Macquarie after the opening of the Karuah to Bulahdelah section(s) 2 and 3 and the Coopernook to Herons Creek upgrade.
- Pacific Highway – Coopernook to Herons Creek.
- The Oxley Highway upgrade, from a 2 lane undivided road to a 4-lane divided carriageway, from Wrights Road to the Pacific Highway.
These four projects are all from the AusLink funding on a joint basis from the Commonwealth and the state of NSW making equal financial contributions.
- ArtWalk (variable dates mid year)
- LitFest2444 (Literary Festival for youth, variable dates mid-year)
- Luminosity Youth Summit (July)
- Creative Ageing Festival
- Pacific Coast Slam (January)
- Big Band Blast
- Mountain Bike Festival of Australia – Port Macquarie (first weekend of June)
- Tasting on Hastings – culinary and cultural food festival weekend event showcasing the region's farmers, artisans, food producers, wine growers, brewers, restaurants and cafés (October)
- Sundowner BREAM Classic (November)
- Festival of the Sun (December)
- NSW Touch State Cup (first weekend in December)
- NSW Touch Junior State Cup (February)
- Oxley Region Amateur Radio Club Field Day (Queen's Birthday Long Weekend)
- Port Macquarie Kart Racing Club's Pacific Coast Titles
- Hello Koalas Festival is the world's first festival celebrating Australia's iconic koala and is held annually over the June Long Weekend. Port Macquarie has the largest koala population on the east coast of Australia, its acclaimed Koala Hospital is a national leader in koala conservation and the region's Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail is an award-winning attraction for the community and visitors.
- George Louis Becke (1855–1913) author
- Nick Cummins (born 1987), rugby union player
- James Magnussen (born 1991), Olympic swimming medallist
- Aleyce Simmonds (born 1986), country music singer-songwriter
- Damian King, Three time world bodyboarding champion
- Ryley Batt, OAM (born 1989), Wheelchair rugby player
- Lachlan Morton (born 1992), Road cyclist for EF Education First Pro Cycling
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|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Port Macquarie.|