We’ve visited Port Macquarie more than any other destination in Australia. We usually visit once or twice a year and I’ve been a regular to the region since I was a child. We feel Port, as the locals call it, is our second home. That familiarity makes it an easy and relaxing holiday for us. As BJ has grown up we’ve had to find the most accessible way to enjoy our Port Macquarie holidays. With domestic travel the only option on the horizon for quite some time, we think it’s a good time to share our tips in a wheelchair accessible guide to Port Macquarie. We’re covering Port Macquarie’s accessible accommodation, activities and dining. We hope to keep adding to this with each visit to the region.
PORT MACQUARIE – WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE GUIDE
Port Macquarie was once a a popular retirement town so I think this has played a part in its excellent accessibility. Although it still has a large retirement community, Port is now drawing young families looking for a seachange. This has seen the town develop a great foodie scene and evolve to meet the needs of a diverse population. Thankfully the gorgeous coastline and beaches, that attract tourists and locals alike, haven’t changed.
BEACH ACCESSIBILITY PORT MACQUARIE
Port Macquarie was one of the first places to develop an extensive beach wheelchair program. The inventor of the Sandcruiser beach wheelchair lives in Port Macquarie and was passionate about getting the chairs on beaches. We were the winners because thanks to his efforts, we could continue to enjoy many of Port Macquarie’s beaches when Hubby could no longer carry BJ to the water.
We’ve been to just about every beach in the region and list our fave accessible beaches and the beach wheelchairs available to borrow in our Port Macquarie’s accessible beaches post.
LIVVI’S INCUSIVE PLAYGROUND PORT MACQUARIE
When BJ was younger we would have loved to have an accessible and inclusive playground to play in while on holidays. A Livvi’s inclusive playground was built a few years ago in Westport Park. You can read our review and see the equipment here.
Sea Acres is a popular tourist attraction as it offers a 1.3 kilometre walk through the rainforest. Rising seven metres through the forest it’s the perfect spot to enjoy the cool of the rainforest while spotting the extensive birdlife that calls it home.
Sea Acres has accessibility top of mind with the boardwalk, cafe and bathroom all wheelchair accessible.
Check the Sea Acres website for more information including entry prices and opening hours.
Port Macquarie’s Koala Hospital has been rehabilitating sick and injured koalas since 1973. The Koala Hospital is open to visitors each day and offers volunteer led tours.
Entry is free but donations help the Koala Hospital to continue their important work. You can read all you need to know about the Koala Hospital and accessibility in our review.
KOALA SCULPTURE TRAIL
A free activity while on holidays is always welcomed. The Koala Sculpture Trail has become a permanent fixture in Port Macquarie. Grab a map and let the kids play eye-spy finding all the koalas around town.
You can read more about the Koala Sculpture trail in this review.
It’s been a long time since our last visit to Billabong, as you can see by the photo of the kids. We had no problems getting around the zoo and had a lovely day but a few accessible features were missing back then. We’ve heard from local friends access has been a focus of the zoo and judging by the accessibility information on the Billabong Zoo website it’s now a good accessible day out.
BBQ BOAT HIRE
One of the best ways to appreciate the Hastings River is to hire a BBQ boat. Pack your food, drinks and something to barbecue and you’re set for a few hours of checking out Port from the river.
You can read our review here.
PORT MACQUARIE BREAKWALL – ACCESSIBLE WALK
We love taking an early evening stroll from the Town Green to the end of the breakwall towards Town Beach. It’s a popular spot just before sunset with bike riders, people going for a stroll and families with little scooter lovers. It’s completely level so it’s good for wheelchair users and those using mobility equipment.
We love checking out the graffiti on the rocks. It’s not the usual abstract art, it’s friends, families and travellers leaving their mark. No doubt many return years later to see if their artwork is still there. We keep promising the kids we’ll do one and haven’t got around to it as yet. Next time we’ll go prepared with our paint, brushes and sealer. People get quite creative and it’s lovely to see Port Macquarie has provided such happy holiday memories for so many.
We recommend finishing your walk with a picnic fish and chip dinner from Off The Hook seafood just around the corner from the Town Green.
TACKING POINT LIGHTHOUSE
I never tire of the views from the lookout near Tacking Point Lighthouse. It’s stairs up to the actual lighthouse but the view of Lighthouse Beach below from the car is pretty good. We usually do a lap up to the lighthouse every trip to Port Macquarie.
RICARDOES TOMATOES & STRAWBERRIES
Located just 10 minutes north of Port Macquarie, Ricardoes Tomatoes & Strawberries is a fun spot to visit on a non-beach day. At Ricardoes you can pick your own strawberries and stock up on a range of local produce. Even if we don’t get to Ricardoes, we make sure we grab their tomatoes from one of the local stockists in town, or from the market.
Check the Ricardoes Tomoatoes website for further details.
BAGO MAZE & WINERY
The Bago Maze and Winery is about a 30 minute drive from Port Macquarie and is a favourite spot with local families. BJ loves the fun of the maze and then ploughs his way through a cheese platter and scones as soon as he’s found his way out.
You can read our tips for visiting the Bago Maze & Winery in our review.
Lake Cathie probably doesn’t make it on to the must-see list of many tourists but when the lake is full (drought conditions affect the lake and at times it doesn’t have much water in it) it’s a fabulous spot to swim for children or those who prefer calm waters. It’s only about 30 minutes from Port Macquarie and makes a good day trip.
Barbecue facilities and a wheelchair accessible fishing platform, with rod holders at wheelchair height and accessible bathroom facilities make this a great picnic spot.
If you are looking for a lovely drive from Port Macquarie, don’t take the highway. Head towards Lake Cathie, Bonny Hills and then on to North Haven. There’s a lovely riverside walk which is accessible. Keep an eye out for dolphins while you’re wheeling or walking along the river.
ACCESSIBLE PORT MACQUARIE ACCOMMODATION
Lake Cathie was the location we booked for years, but it became difficult to find accommodation to suit our needs as the kids got older. We now find the convenience of being in the heart of Port Macquarie and the ability to walk to the shops and cafes makes our holidays more carefree.
This is our favourite spot in Port Macquarie. We don’t stay in the accessible apartment but give it a good score for accessibility and love the view from the balcony.
You can read our full review and see lots of photos of the Northpoint accessible apartment here. We’ve also found there’s some lovely permanent residents in this block and management always go out of their way to assist.
RYDGES PORT MACQUARIE
Not far from Northpoint Apartments is the Rydges Port Macquarie which has a one bedroom accessible apartment.
You can read our review here.
Beachcomber Resort isn’t quite as conveniently located as Northpoint Apartments and Rydges but the accommodation cost reflects this too. This could be a good option if you’re looking for something accessible but a little cheaper than the others.
You can read about our stay at Beachcomber Resort in our review.
BEACHSIDE APARTMENTS FLYNNS BEACH
Flynns Beach is one of our favourite beaches and just behind the beach is Beachside Apartments (it is a drive to the beach though as it’s a steep walk back). The last time we stayed at Beachside Apartments we noticed the accessible apartment is being used regularly by respite groups in the area but it is available to book.
You can read our review here but keep in mind it’s been a while since we’ve stayed at this property so make sure you ask questions if you have specific needs.
REFLECTIONS HOLIDAY PARK BONNY HILLS
Bonny Hills is located around 35 minutes from Port Macquarie and is a gorgeous spot on the coastline. The Reflections Holiday Park’s accessible villa offers excellent accessibility.
This accommodation really suited our needs and we wrote about our stay in this review.
ACCESSIBLE DINING IN PORT MACQUARIE
BJ isn’t a fan of lingering over long meals so we usually self-cater but we do have a few favourites.
The kids request at least two visits to Pancake Place each time we stay in Port Macquarie.
Pancake Place is wheelchair accessible with inside and outside dining and an accessible bathroom. Check the Pancake Place website for opening times. BJ highly recommends their strawberry milkshakes and banana pancake with caramel sauce.
Fat Fish Bonny Hills
Fat Fish at Rainbow Beach Bonny Hills sits above the surf club and has fabulous water views and a great menu to match. It’s wheelchair accessible but has a steep ramp up to it unless you park part way up.
Our local friends Julie and Iain are both wheelchair users and they recommend the following restaurants for accessible dining.
CHANGING PLACES BATHROOM
A Changing Places bathroom and two unisex stand-alone accessible bathrooms are located in the Short Street Plaza car park in Port Macquarie. A MLAK key is needed to open the Changing Places bathroom.
An adult-size height adjustable change table is available in the Changing Places bathroom with hoist. As always, you need to use your own sling.
Port Macquarie Council has a comprehensive list of accessible facilities on their website.
Port Macquarie feels miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city but with a good hospital and all the shops you could need for forgotten items, it offers all the conveniences of home. I’m not sure we’re too smart sharing what a paradise it is, but it’s not really a hidden secret these days. A visit always results in our family feeling relaxed and happy. AJ always says it’s her happy place and I have to agree. We hope this wheelchair accessible travel guide to Port Macquarie helps you plan a getaway.
If you’ve got an accessible tips for Port Macquarie, please feel free to share them with us.