Port Macquarie

Last updated

Port Macquarie
New South Wales
Port Macquarie 1.JPG
Port Macquarie 3.JPG
Port Macquarie 4.JPG
Clockwise from top. Entrance to Kooloonbung Creek, Town Beach, and intersection of Clarence & Horton Streets
Australia New South Wales location map blank.svg
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Port Macquarie
Location in New South Wales
Coordinates 31°26′S152°54′E / 31.433°S 152.900°E / -31.433; 152.900 Coordinates: 31°26′S152°54′E / 31.433°S 152.900°E / -31.433; 152.900
Population45,698 (2016) [1]
Postcode(s) 2444
Elevation5 m (16 ft)
LGA(s) Port Macquarie-Hastings Council
County Macquarie
Parish Macquarie
State electorate(s) Port Macquarie
Federal Division(s) Cowper
Mean max tempMean min tempAnnual rainfall
23.6 °C
74 °F
12.7 °C
55 °F
1,436.2 mm
56.5 in

Port Macquarie is a coastal town [2] [3] 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 45,698 in June 2016. [1]

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council Local government area in New South Wales, Australia

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council is a local government area in the mid north coast region of New South Wales, Australia.

Mid North Coast Region in New South Wales, Australia

The Mid North Coast is a country region in the north-east of the state of New South Wales, Australia. The region covers the mid to north coast of the state, beginning at Seal Rocks, 275 km (171 mi) north of Sydney, and extending as far north as Woolgoolga, 562 km (349 mi) north of Sydney, a distance of roughly 400 km (250 mi).

New South Wales state of Australia

New South Wales is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Tasman Sea to the east. The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave within the state. New South Wales' state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia's most populous city. In March 2018, the population of New South Wales was over 7.9 million, making it Australia's most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state's population, 5.1 million, live in the Greater Sydney area. Inhabitants of New South Wales are referred to as New South Welshmen.



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.

John Oxley British explorer

John Joseph William Molesworth Oxley was an explorer and surveyor of Australia in the early period of British colonisation. He served as Surveyor General of New South Wales and is perhaps best known for his two expeditions into the interior of New South Wales and his discoveries of the Tweed River and the Brisbane River in what is now the state of Queensland.

Pacific Ocean Ocean between Asia and Australia in the west, the Americas in the east and Antarctica or the Southern Ocean in the south.

The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south and is bounded by Asia and Australia in the west and the Americas in the east.

Governor of New South Wales vice-regal representative of the Australian monarch in New South Wales

The Governor of New South Wales is the viceregal representative of the Australian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, in the state of New South Wales. In an analogous way to the Governor-General of Australia at the national level, the Governors of the Australian states perform constitutional and ceremonial functions at the state level. The governor is appointed by the queen on the advice of the premier of New South Wales, for an unfixed period of time—known as serving At Her Majesty's pleasure—though five years is the norm. The current governor is retired General David Hurley, who succeeded Dame Marie Bashir on 2 October 2014.

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.

Newcastle, New South Wales City in New South Wales, Australia

The Newcastle metropolitan area is the second most populated area in the Australian state of New South Wales and includes most of the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie local government areas. It is the hub of the Greater Newcastle area which includes most parts of the local government areas of City of Newcastle, City of Lake Macquarie, City of Cessnock, City of Maitland and Port Stephens Council.

Hunter Region Region in New South Wales, Australia

The Hunter Region, also commonly known as the Hunter Valley, is a region of New South Wales, Australia, extending from approximately 120 km (75 mi) to 310 km (193 mi) north of Sydney. It contains the Hunter River and its tributaries with highland areas to the north and south. Situated at the northern end of the Sydney Basin bioregion, the Hunter Valley is one of the largest river valleys on the NSW coast, and is most commonly known for its wineries and coal industry.

Aboriginal Australians term used to refer to some groups of Indigenous Australians

Aboriginal Australian is a collective term for all the indigenous peoples from the Australian mainland and Tasmania. This group contains many separate cultures that have developed in the various environments of Australia for more than 50,000 years. These peoples have a broadly shared, though complex, genetic history, but it is only in the last two hundred years that they have been defined and started to self identify as a single group. The exact definition of the term Aboriginal Australian has changed over time and place, with the importance of family lineage, self identification and community acceptance all being of varying importance. In the past Aboriginal Australians also lived over large sections of the continental shelf and were isolated on many of the smaller offshore islands, once the land was inundated at the start of the inter-glacial. However, they are distinct from the Torres Strait Islander people, despite extensive cultural exchange.

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:

Archibald Clunes Innes Australian pastoralist

Archibald Clunes Innes (1799–1857) was a soldier and pastoralist from Thrumster, Caithness, Scotland. When he arrived in Australia in 1822 he was a captain in the Third Regiment (Buffs), on the ship "Eliza", in charge of 170 convicts.

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. [4]

Ralph Darling British Army general

General Sir Ralph Darling, GCH was a British Army officer who served as Governor of New South Wales from 1825 to 1831. He is popularly described as a tyrant, accused of torturing prisoners and banning theatrical entertainment, but he also built new roads and extended the boundaries of the colony. Local geographical features named after him include the Darling River and Darling Harbour in Sydney.

St Thomas' Anglican Church Prt Macquarie 18.JPG
St Thomas' Anglican Church
St Thomas' Church, painted by Joseph Backler in the 1830s St. Thomas' Church, Port Macquarie, 1832-1842 Joseph Backler a7469002h.jpg
St Thomas' Church, painted by Joseph Backler in the 1830s

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.

Moreton Bay bay in Queensland, Australia

The Moreton Bay is a bay located on the eastern coast of Australia 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) from central Brisbane, Queensland. It is one of Queensland's most important coastal resources. The waters of Moreton Bay are a popular destination for recreational anglers and are used by commercial operators who provide seafood to market.

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. [5] 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.

Tacking Point Lighthouse Port Macquarie.JPG
Tacking Point Lighthouse

In 1830 Major Archibald Clunes Innes built Lake Innes House 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).

Heritage listings

Port Macquarie has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:


The estimated urban population of Port Macquarie was 45,341 as at June 2015, [1] having grown 1.1% on prior year and from 39,783 over the prior decade. [1] Port Macquarie is expected to be the fastest growing place in New South Wales. The town is expected to grow from an estimated 43,655 people in 2009 to 58,888 in 2027. [14]


Port Macquarie is a retirement 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. [15]

In 2016 the war memorial was relocated from Town Green to its original location at the intersection of Clarence and Horton Streets. [16]

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.

Port Macquarie was found to be the least affordable smaller city in Australia by Demographia's 2013 International Housing Affordability Survey. [17]

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 9km 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 town with Laurieton, Wauchope, Kempsey, Lake Cathie and Bonny Hills.

Transit Hill

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

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. [18]

St Joseph's Regional College moved from its previous location on Warlters Street to Sovereign Hills in 2009 [19] . A town centre is planned for opening in 2019, and has been advertised to initially include a supermarket, pharmacy and a cafe [20] . The local organisation, Hastings Co-Op has announced that they will operate the supermarket to be built in this new town centre [21] .

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 [22] ) 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 days12.
Average afternoon relative humidity (%)65666564616055525659656461
Source: Bureau of Meteorology [23]

Previous site, Port Macquarie (Hill Street). This site is now closed and data is now taken from the airport AWS which is located 4.4km 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 days12.413.214.112.611.310.
Average afternoon relative humidity (%)75757470686663626670737570
Source: Bureau of Meteorology [24]
Port Macquarie (Hill Street) Rainfall data 1840–2010
millimetres (inches)
Average rainfall152.3 (6.0)178.1 (7.0)175.2 (6.9)167.3 (6.6)144.3 (5.7)133.2 (5.2)97.6 (3.8)81.3 (3.2)81.4 (3.2)94.0 (3.7)104.1 (4.1)126.5 (5.0)1,515.2 (59.7)
Highest Daily rainfall274.6 (10.8)212.2 (8.4)259.6 (10.2)298.2 (11.7)140.7 (5.5)180.1 (7.1)140.7 (5.5)142.2 (5.6)149.4 (5.9)150.6 (5.9)273.3 (10.8)205.2 (8.1)298.2 (11.7)
Highest Monthly rainfall1,387.6 (54.6)844.5 (33.2)678.0 (26.7)619.2 (24.4)916.4 (36.1)651.5 (25.6)774.2 (30.5)775.5 (30.5)355.8 (14.0)419.5 (16.5)462.0 (18.2)636.7 (25.1)3,204.4 (126.2)
Lowest rainfall5.7 (0.2)1.8 (0.1)9.8 (0.4)7.2 (0.3)6.9 (0.3)3.3 (0.1)0.5 (0.0)0.0 (0.0)0.0 (0.0)9.4 (0.4)1.6 (0.1)8.1 (0.3)734.0 (28.9)
Source: Bureau of Meteorology. [25]

Educational facilities

Nobby Head, Port Macquarie Prt Macquarie 1.JPG
Nobby Head, Port Macquarie

Preschools/Child Care

Primary schools

Public schools

  • Port Macquarie Public School [26]
  • Hastings Public School [27]
  • Tacking Point Public School [28]
  • Westport Public School [29]

Catholic schools

  • St. Joseph's Primary School [30]
  • St. Peter's Primary School [31]
  • St. Agnes' Primary School [32]

Other private schools

  • Port Macquarie Adventist School [33]
  • Heritage Christian School (Kindergarten to Year 12) [34]
  • St Columba Anglican School (Kindergarten to Year 12) [35]

High schools

Public schools

  • Hasting Secondary College [36]
    • Port Macquarie Campus (formerly Port Macquarie High School) [36]
    • Westport Campus (formerly Westport High School) [36]

Catholic schools

  • St. Joseph's Regional College [37]
  • Mackillop College (formerly St. Paul's High School & MacKillop Senior College) [38]
  • Newman Senior Technical College (Year 11 & 12) [39]

Private schools

  • Heritage Christian School (Kindergarten to Year 12) [34]
  • St Columba Anglican School (Kindergarten to Year 12) [35]

Tertiary educational facilities

There is a TAFE campus for further qualifications. Courses are also offered by the University of Newcastle through the TAFE campus. In 2012, Charles Sturt University set up a campus with a small number of programs available in accounting and business studies, health sciences, policing, psychology and social work. 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 as 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 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 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.

Road access is via the Pacific and Oxley Highways. The Pacific Highway lies between Port Macquarie and Wauchope, and is the main road for tourists travelling from coastal areas.

Four significant nearby road projects have been completed in recent years to help with road traffic issues in the area:

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. [49]

Annual events

Notable events held in the Port Macquarie area include: [50]

Notable people

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