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Port Macquarie Fast Facts
- State: NSW
- Famous for/as: Port Macquarie Beach
- Population: 41,491
- Language: English
- Best Season:
- Local Transport:
- Pincode: 2444
Port Macquarie Info
- The Glasshouse
Port Macquarie, NSW 2444
- Toll Free: 1300 303 155
- Phone: (02) 6581 8000
- Fax: (02) 6581 8010
- Address: Clarence Street, Port Macquarie NSW 2444, Australia
Phone: (02) 6581 8000
Port Macquarie, Australia Overview
Port Macquarie has a stirring history that began almost with the earliest days of European settlement in Australia. Today, the town still has many tangible reminders of that period and these are among its attractions.
The city has a five-star array of beaches from Port Macquarie Beach to Town Beach at the very front of the city centre; to the 16 km golden swathe of North Beach on the far side of the Hastings River.
Port Macquarie also has a fine range of accommodation, dining and activity options that make this a favourite for families and an outstanding choice for a holiday base. Be sure to cross the Hastings River on the vehicle ferry and visit the Limeburners Creek Nature Reserve and spend the day swimming, bushwalking and wildlife watching.
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Must See Places in Port Macquarie, Australia
Port Macquarie, Australia History
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.
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 wild fowl. 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 the first penal settlement, replacing Newcastle as the destination for convicts that 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 Valley 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 the flogging, the settlement became 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.
Due to the lack of liberties of the settlement, Ralph Darling, governor of New South Wales, quickly sent many 'specials' or literate convicts with a decent education who had voiced negative views about him. Later on in the settlements 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.
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.
St Thomas’ Anglican Church is a Georgian building designed by Lieutenant T Owen and was built by convicts under military supervision during 1824-1828. 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. The Walker Pipe Organ is the only one of its type in the southern hemisphere. The castellated tower permits excellent views of the coastline, city and river. This church is now classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW) and it is also registered on the National Estate.
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 due to presence of 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).