We felt a little sad to be leaving Nelson Bay, the place had left such a good impression on us all. Reflecting, post trip, we classed Nelson Bay as the little sibling to Port Douglas, with very similar marina, town centre, beaches and chilled vibe. We weren’t sure how we could top our stay there, but we had to move on and Port Macquarie was our next destination.
The day we left was super hot and we found a great location to stop and break up the drive at a little place called Johns River, which had a playground covered by large sails for shade. Nearby there were calves, which Fletcher ran to see, but in his excitement scared them off into the paddock. After another uneventful trip, which with the young kids is a blessing, we arrived at the Port Macquarie Breakwall Holiday Park, our home for the next two nights.
Halfway along the painted rocks
The weather was less than pleasurable and we had to set up in the heat and wind, our first real challenge with the awning. Rather than wait around for the weather to calm we jumped into the pool to cool off before heading into town along the renowned painted rocks by the waterfront. Visitors for years have been painting pictures or leaving their mark in one way or another. Some families have been coming for decades adding something each year, whilst tourists from all around the world leave a piece of their homeland in art form. It was great to see, bringing some life to an otherwise drab rock wall.
Each Saturday evening the food trucks come down to the beach front and we were keen to grab some grub. However, the few that arrived then quickly left again as the weather turned for the worse with the wind picking up significantly. This forced us back in to the camper to cook our first meal on the stove.
Town Beach hangs
The next day the weather was perfect! We spent most of the morning at the nearby Town Beach, which was abundant with shells for the kids to hunt and amongst these we even found a number of small crabs and sea snails. At one point a dozen yachts sailed out past the breakwall giving us a spectacle by happenstance. Five days into our trip now and we were all completely relaxed having shed all the weight and expectations of day to day life and this morning, specifically, was the first time I’d been living in the moment for a long time.
Sandcastle empires were raised and felled and after almost 3 hours on the beach we went into town to meet a friend and get some lunch. Plenty of options in town for lunch, but of course we picked a place that had food we knew the kids would eat! Our friend met us at the Westport Park where there was room for the kids to run and, you guessed it, a playground. Other than the water front itself the main feature of the park was a large tree at it’s centre. Kids were clambering all over it and Fletcher, who lately has been obsessed with copying what the ‘big kids’ are doing, insisted he climb it too. However he was a bit short to do it himself, so I lifted him into the tree and he was able to make his way around from there.
Just a couple of monkeys
Not thinking it completely through we realised he could not get down himself, nor could I reach him where he was. So into the tree I went. I can’t remember the last time I climbed a tree, but it was a lot of fun to be doing it again with Fletcher, who thought it was hilarious. As we sat perched on a branch together I suddenly felt the decades since my last tree climb and I looked to the ground and wondered if it would hurt more to jump from the branch or to try squeeze and stretch myself to get back down the way I came up. I did ‘Dad-up’ though and we both got out of the tree easily.
Port Macquarie Lighthouse
That afternoon we went to the lighthouse and took in the views with rocky outcrops and a secluded beach to one side and the long stretching beach to the other side. It was a quaint lighthouse with little grandeur to speak of, but the views were spectacular. On the way back to the caravan park we stopped at the Sea Acres Rainforest Centre and went around the rain forest boardwalk. It was near the end of the day so we rushed around the forest, but we were there by ourselves so it was quite peaceful, especially when it started to drizzle with rain through the canopy. The kids loved the koala sculptures scattered around the boardwalk all painted in a different styles, but the highlight would have to be the large striped goana we saw climbing down a nearby tree.
To finish off our stay here we went to the rocks and painted our names whilst the kids painted big blotches of colour. Leaving our mark gives us something to look for when we visit again, as Port Macquarie sure left it’s mark on us.
Hmm too corny to leave it on that note, so stay tuned for Part 4 of our trip as we next head to Coffs Habour.
Also if you have just found our adventures via this post, I encourage you check out Part 2 of this trip covering our stay in the even better Nelson bay. Or you can start from the beginning of this trip and read about our purchase of the camper and our first leg to Sydney in Part 1.
The best place to follow Josh’s adventures with his family is on his Instagram site @josh.duthie. You can see this post and more Adventures of Duth by clicking the link below or following #adventuresofduth.