Wet Wet Wet
Port Macquarie’s beaches are perfect for swimming and surfing. Four beaches are within easy reach of town with surf patrols during summer months and school holidays. At the beginning of the 20th century the health benefits of sea bathing were recognised with Port Macquarie Municipal Council forming a sub-committee to further the town’s claims as a tourist resort and sanatorium. Property owners were encouraged to realise that ‘Port Macquarie must become a tourist resort or remain nothing’. In 1909 Council drew up a set of rules to govern surf bathing noting that it had ‘caught on’ here.
Port Macquarie’s natural beauty and environment were recognised by the NSW Premier in 1935 when he described Port Macquarie ‘as the natural playground of New South Wales’. Since then, wildlife and marine parks, bushland reserves, coastal walks, hinterland trails and our world famous koala hospital have drawn visitors to Port Macquarie and surrounds.
Tourist travel directly to Port Macquarie was usually by coastal steamer until 1915 when the North Coast railway was opened to nearby Wauchope. However visitors from the Northern Tablelands travelled by horse along the bush track which later became the Oxley Highway. Once the region was serviced by the North Coast railway, local car and bus operators met the train and transported visitors directly to their accommodation. Passenger air services between Sydney and Port Macquarie commenced in 1955.
Rest And Refreshments
Accommodation and dining options now abound, but this was not always the case. In December 1938, one traveller described his arrival at Port Macquarie as ‘the charming watering-place was over-crowded with tourists. The usual camping ground along the waterfront could not accommodate the influx of campers, many of whom occupied the principal streets in the area’.
In 1896 at a public meeting to form a Progress Association for Port Macquarie, one of the ideas presented was to judiciously advertise the town as both a summer and winter resort. Two decades later, Port Macquarie was described in Moore’s Australian Almanac as rapidly coming into favour as a pleasure resort with splendid fishing, shooting, surfing, boating and golfing. Port Macquarie’s first bowling green opened in 1937.
Places, Parks and Parades
Tourist attractions and festivals have been a key part of Port Macquarie’s tourism history. From its early convict connections and historical places, beautiful scenery, theme parks and carnivals, the town has offered something for everyone. Port Macquarie introduced the marketing slogan of ‘Australia’s First Resort’ in 1967.
Getting the word out about Port Macquarie’s tourist facilities and amenities was essential in attracting visitors, increasing tourism investment and building the town’s branding and reputation as a tourist destination. In 1969, Port Macquarie Municipal Council’s decision to raise water and sewerage funds through a ‘lavatory levy’ on tourist accommodation pedestals caused outcry and was not the publicity the town wanted!