Explore a beautiful port
THE sun, sand and surf are renowned and needs no introduction but there's so much more of Port Macquarie to be seen.
And when you see it through the eyes of a three-year-old who has a smile from to ear to ear, it opens up a world of memories to treasure.
Port Macquarie offers this world in so many ways.
Time spent with the family on the beach building sandcastles or frolicking in the waves at Flynn's, Town or Lighthouse Beach has always been a joy but making the effort to get a little further out of town opens up so many opportunities.
Time spent with the family watching our youngest catch his first fish while dolphins swim past and pelicans glide in to land is one of those opportunities.
The Camden Haven area is a leisurely drive south, lasting a bit more than half an hour but the destination is worth it.
The tranquil small towns of Laurieton, Dunbogan and North Haven provide an idyllic escape, which allows the family to change down a couple of gears and while the time away. Time spent on the Camden Haven River on a covered tinny from Dunbogan Boat Shed is time worth taking.
The disappointment of not bringing a couple of fishing rods quickly disappeared with bait and tackle on offer.
With the number of dolphins and pelicans around you knew the fish were in the river and it wasn't long before the smallest member of the crew had his first whiting.
"Teach a boy to fish and he'll remember that first catch forever."
To finish off the river adventure, a quality coffee on the Dunbogan Boat Shed's deck, while soaking up the sun with a view of the yachts on the water.
That's not to say the township of Port Macquarie has little to offer the family - far from it.
There are plenty of accommodation choices when looking for somewhere to stay and Ki-ea Beachside Apartments knows how to cater for families.
Its fully self-contained apartments are just minutes from both the beach and town centre, with the little ones able to make plenty of use of the separate kids pool with fun rain dome while you laze poolside.
Being so close to town means Port Macquarie's many and varied dining options are within a short stroll.
The local gourmet produce, beer and wine on offer at Quay Lime while overlooking the marina offers a touch of sophistication, while ensuring the children are catered for.
Quick moving feet are stopped in their tracks when a complimentary colouring book and stickers are produced to make it easier for mum and dad to relax with their glass of red rather than worrying if their kids are making too much noise to be a bother for other patrons.
Then again, was another glass of wine really needed? When the kids have been worn out taking a horse ride while you're at Cassegrain Winery, perhaps not.
If the smile of catching a fish was big, the smile when a horse takes its first steps while you're sitting on a placid mare's back is something else.
The Port Macquarie Horse Riding Centre is a new addition near the winery, which is only a 10-minute drive from the town centre.
Offering trail rides, pony rides, junior riders club, school holiday camp and horse riding lessons, it's simply one of the many fun, family- friendly activities on offer around the Hastings Valley.
- Both Qantas and Virgin Australia have a direct flight each day from Brisbane to Port Macquarie.
- Alternatively you can make the 550km drive from Brisbane.
WHERE TO STAY
- Ki-ea Beachside Apartments offers 50 modern and spacious 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedroom fully self-contained, non-smoking apartments as well as studio rooms for business travellers and one night stays.
THINGS TO DO
- The Port Macquarie Horse Riding Centre at Cassegrain Winery offers trail rides for everyone, from complete beginners to experienced riders.
- Dunbogan Boatshed lets you experience the water is by kayak or boat, both for the keen fishermen and those who just want to explore.