Last night I got home from a lovely long weekend in Port Macquarie. We left Sydney about 12pm on Friday, and after a quick lunch stop, arrived at The Best Western Plus HW Boutique Hotel (our home for the next 3 nights). Our room had a great view of the ocean, was spacious and was located just 10 minutes walk from the town centre. There is a Breakfast Room, also with sea views, but we chose to eat in town instead.
On Friday night, we met friends who live locally, at Zebu’s for dinner in the bar area. The Meat Lovers Pizza was really good and the huge log fire indoors was perfect for the cool evenings. There is also a fine dining section at Zebu’s, but we were saving ourselves for The Stunned Mullet.
On Saturday morning, we had a lovely breakfast overlooking the river at The Point, before exploring Port (as the locals call it) and doing the Hello Koala Sculpture Trail. If you love art, or koalas, I would definitely recommend this, but be quick as it ends in December this year. We managed to see 39 out of 51 of them, which is a pretty good effort, as they are quite spread out. The koalas which were manufactured in fibreglass, then individually designed and hand painted by local artists, dot the Port Macquarie-Hastings landscape from the mountains to the sea.
After looking at lots of koala sculptures, we decided to look at some real koalas and visit the Koala Hospital. It was established 42 years ago to treat sick and injured koalas, as well as help with research into koala diseases. If you go at 3pm, like we did, you can do a free tour where a volunteer will explain the issues that brought the koalas into our care and you can watch them being fed. Unfortunately whilst we were doing our tour, a new koala was brought in with a broken leg.
After watching the stunning sunset across the road from our hotel, we met our friends again for dinner at Cafe 66; a great Italian restaurant which accepts BYO and is also licensed. The next morning, we went back to Zebu’s for their buffet breakfast. It wasn’t the best buffet breakfast I’ve had, but for just $20 it’s great value and the view makes up for the lack of choices.
After breakfast, we had another jam packed day ahead of us. The whale watching season in Port Macquarie starts around April when the whales start their trek north to breed and ends around November when they head back down south. We chose to do our whale watching cruise with Cruise Adventures in their 8.5 metre RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat), as its the fastest way to get to the whales. It wasn’t the most relaxing half-hour boat journey and was a bit jumpy for my liking, but if you are looking for an adrenaline rush, this is it. Please note, RIBs are suitable for most ages but definitely not suitable for people with back or neck injuries, heart problems or with serious physical disabilities. We saw quite a few whales (about 20?), all of which were very active when we saw them in the distance, but unfortunately once we got close they all seemed to get shy and dive back under. Luckily, I still got few good shots.
After checking out the town and a few more koala sculptures, we did a another cruise. This time it was on the Hastings River (instead of the open ocean) and so much more relaxing. The Chinese Junk Sunset Cruise was the perfect way to enjoy Port’s stunning sunsets. You can even take your own nibbles and drinks (alcoholic and otherwise). If you prefer a warm drink, complimentary tea and coffee is provided. The captain’s commentary was entertaining, as well as informative.
By the time we got back to dry land, the stars were shining and the bats were out. But the day was not over yet. We ended our last night in Port at hatted Stunned Mullet. The Stunned Mullet is Port Macquarie’s quintessential dining experience. Locals often call it ‘Stunned Wallet’ as it is on the expensive side for Port Macquarie, but compared to Sydney’s standards, I found it averagely priced and excellent value. It was established in 2005 and holds a coveted SMH Chef’s hat. It has also been featured in Gourmet Traveller’s Wine list of the Year publication. As expected, the service, food and wine was sublime. I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to end our weekend in Port!