Located on the New South Wales Holiday Coast at the mouth of the Hastings River, Port Macquarie boasts some of the most pristine waterways and magnificent beaches in Australia. With an abundance of things to do, beautiful nature reserves, and a colourful history, Port Macquarie is a coastal resort town that has something for everyone. The climate is noted for being one of the best in Australia with average temperatures ranging from 20C - 32C in Summer, and from 8C - 21C in Winter.
Port Macquarie (31º 26' 00" S - 152º 55' 00" E) is 420kms north of Sydney and 500kms south of Brisbane. Being half-way between Sydney and the Gold Coast makes the resort town an ideal stop off if your touring up to Byron Bay or south east Queensland. There are regular flights to and from Port Macquarie's domestic airport, train services at the nearby town of Wauchope and frequent inter-city coach services stopping in the centre of town.
Port Macquarie's European History
Port Macquarie was named by John Oxley after the governor of NSW, Lachlan Macquarie in 1818. The Hastings river was named after the governor general of India at around the same time. Although the area had been first noticed by Captain Cook on his voyage along the coast in 1770 and again later by Matthew Flinders in 1802, it was not explored in any detail until Oxley returned in 1819. Macquarie initiated Oxley's expedition as he was interested in the sites potential as a penal settlement.
The penal settlement would be established in 1821 under Captain Francis Allman who landed at the "town green" at the top of what is now Clarence Street. Captain Allman immediately began directing the 60 convicts sent to establish the settlement, to clear the area of trees and begin farming in order to become self-sufficient. Timber supplies further south near Newcastle where dwindling providing further impetus to the clearing.
Sugar Cane was first grown in Australia on the site by a prisoner from the West Indies and a sugar mill was established in 1824. The penal settlement endured into the early 1840's after the area was opened up to free settlers in 1830. After being hard hit by the depression in 1840 and the final relocation of the remaining convict labour in 1847, the settlement began declining. The town began to recover in the early 1860's upon the arrival of pastoralists and by the 1880's the town had a Catholic Church, a bank, a newspaper and local government was formed in 1887.
The North Coast Railway passed by Port Macquarie in 1910 changing the way goods were transported marking the end of the town's harbour traffic. Throughout the 1960's the town experienced rapid growth and its popularity as a holiday spot was beginning to manifest. Today the town has more than 40,000 residents and is a popular tourist destination and the old buildings that remain are a testament to the towns colourful history.