Port Macquarie, where have you been all my life?

How can it be that I have not discovered Port Macquarie before? For many years it has been there —a glistening jewel with its inviting beaches, coastal bush walks, vineyards, cafe and restaurant society. It’s like a larger, undiscovered Noosa.

Picture yourself in our day: we awoke to the view of the ocean, fringed by Norfolk Pines from our room in the iconic The Observatory. From its colourful facade, you may recognise this unique award-winning 4½ star hotel in a dress circle location overlooking Town Beach. It was well-located for all our on-foot adventures.

It was a clear, bright day and we ventured out for a morning walk. Port Macquarie has a unique coastal walk— nine kilometres of walking track with views of the coastline. I can vouch for it. At the top of each rise, I strained to see a whale, but could only see the area in which John and Suzie from Cruise Adventures were heading with their boatload of keen whale watches. What a day for it.

After completing the ocean part of the walk, we skirted the Hastings River foreshore, meeting Edmund Barton’s statue (the first Prime Minister of Australia, long since departed) and had a coffee hit. It seemed as if the whole town had participated in painting the rocks along the foreshore, paying tribute to family, friends and those dearly departed. Dolphins came out to play and stopped all of us in our tracks.

While still exploring by foot, I couldn’t resist the pull of Port Macquarie’s grand old churches. Perched on prime real estate (aren’t they all?), St Thomas’ Church was convict built and the walls consist of 365,000 handmade bricks. Opposite is St. Agnes, built around 1940 and while not of great age, a beautiful site nonetheless.

I couldn’t resist a walk through the historic cemetery; the headstones reflecting the fragility of life for soldiers, convicts and settlers.

We returned to The Observatory for a swim in the heated lap pool and a hot spa — heaven. There was so much to do and we wanted to fit in one of the region’s famous vineyards. We ventured to the Little Fish Café overlooking the vineyards of the Innes Lake Estate. We knew it was good because the venue was full of guests enjoying the winter sun.

I had the best grilled fish ever … so good that I’m still comparing all subsequent meals to it. The suggested white wine to accompany it—a 2011 InnesLake Semillon was delicious. My partner, Chris, is a man who loves his game meat and was excited to see the Farmers Wild Rabbit on the menu. Accompanied by a 2011 InnesLake Shiraz, he proclaimed it to be excellent.

Port Macquarie was buzzing with excitement in winter so I can only image what it will be like in summer when the beaches come alive and every rock is taken by a keen fisherman/woman.

You can fly direct to Port Macquarie staring from just $79 one-way on a one hour flight with Qantas or Virgin.

Really, there’s no excuse not to check out this amazing find of mine!

The author was a guest of Greater Port Macquarie Tourism.