The Road Ahead : October November 2007
STORY ROGER ALLNUTT Por t Macquarie is located by the Hastings River, mid way between Brisbane and Sydney, on a lovely stretch of New South Wales coastline. In 1821, the site was chosen as a suitable place for a penal settlement on the recommendation of explorer John Oxley, who commented not only on the suitable landing area but also the fer tile countr y inland from the harbour. The penal colony only lasted about 10 years before free settlers took over and the settlement continued to develop. Many historic reminders remain, including a foreshore lined with Nor folk pines brought from another penal settlement on Nor folk Island. A number of historic buildings from the penal and colonial settlement remain, including the lovely St Thomas' Angilcan Church (1824), and some old wells constructed with convict- made bricks. The building that now houses the Por t Macquarie Historical Museum is also an original and it contains a mar vellous collection. Gravestones from the earliest times are preser ved in the historic cemeter y, together with a few others on a grassy patch overlooking the harbour. An unusual 'memento' of the town's histor y is a series of embroidered and quilted panels hanging in the hall of the Senior Citizen's Club in Munster Street. You can view them but take care not to disrupt the indoor bowlers. Built in 1890, National Trust-listed Roto House captures the social histor y of the town through the Flynn family who lived there for nearly a centur y. Nearby is the Koala Hospital, where volunteers nurse sick and injured koalas (be there for feeding time at 3pm). Until a breakwater was constructed, the entrance to the Hastings River was a hazardous under taking for the early ships and many foundered tr ying to get in. These days all is calm and you are likely to see dolphins playing in the river. Cruises are available and the harbour is a star ting point for other seagoing activities. On the town green is a statue of Edmund Bar ton, the first Prime Minister of Australia, who came from the area. A feature of Por t Macquarie is the large open space along the foreshore, with an extensive range of walking paths joining headlands, along beaches and beside the river. From the historic cemeter y, a walking trail through the Kooloonbung Creek Nature Reser ve encompasses various types of forest and wetland plus a myriad of birds and fruit bats. The Sea Acres Rainforest Park is one of the last remaining vestiges of subtropical rainforest along the coast. It is recommended to take a guided tour of the 1.3 km raised boardwalk to learn about the flora and its uses by the local Biripi Aboriginal people There are excellent surfing beaches, including Town Beach and Lighthouse Beach, with great sea views from Flagstaff Hill and Tacking Point Lighthouse. Visitors will find a range of accommodation in and around Por t Macquarie, ranging from upmarket resor ts, motels, apar tments and B&Bs to a several caravan parks. Coastal refuge The mid north coast of New South Wales is fertile ground for touring. TRAVEL & LEISURE GET THERE WITH RACQ'S HELP Check out the attractions and plan your driving holiday route and your accommodation online with the RACQ trip planner at racq.com. Pics courtesy www.por tmacquarieinfo.com.au 44 OCT/NOV 07 MAIN PHOTO: Pilot Beach. ABOVE: St Thomas' Anglican Church.
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August September 2007