There is something for everyone on this stunning walk beside the Hastings River and along coast – beaches, lookouts, heritage sites, cafes, rainforest and a lighthouse. The Port Macquarie Coastal Walk in one direction is 9 km and will take you about 3 hours, but you can easily adjust the distance and time to suit. The first section of the walk is accessible for strollers. The walk is popular with visitors and locals, families, runners and fitness enthusiasts.
Dogs on leash are welcome on some sections of the Port Macquarie Coastal Walk including Oxley Beach, and can enjoy off leash play on Nobbys Beach. Dogs are not permitted on Town Beach, Flynns Beach, Shelley Beach or in the Sea Acres National Park section of the walk.
This is Birpai country. Learn about their stories and culture at the Sea Acres Rainforest Centre.
Town Green to Breakwater
We began our walk where Kooloonbung Creek empties into the Hastings near the road bridge, but you can also start at Westport Park or the Town Green. A wide promenade follows the Hastings River past boats and parklands. The Lady Nelson Wharf is named after one of the ships that delivered the first convicts to the early penal settlement at Port Macquarie. Our first stop was at the Shack for the morning caffeine fix. Then on we walk, past the caravan park and the gaily painted rocks on the breakwall towards Town Beach. The breakwalls were constructed over a hundred years ago to channel the water over the bar to allow safer passage. Dogs on a leash are welcome on this section.
Town Beach to Flynns Beach
After leaving the Salty Crew Kiosk at the Surf Club at the southern end of Town Beach, you might notice a rusty relic by some steps that lead down to Flagstaff Cove. A friendly local told us this was the landing beach in the old days when the Hastings bar was too dangerous to cross. A bit further on a bridge leads up onto Flagstaff Hill, where a signalling station was established in 1821 with a pilot residence on the headland opposite. There is a good lookout on the hill.
Oxley Beach is next, dogs welcome on leash. Doctors Walk leads up to Windmill Hill Reserve, where there is a nice sculpture of a millstone. After the Rocky Beach lookout, a paraglider launch site, the path goes down to join Tupenny Road and then onto Flynns Beach.
The geology of this section of the coastline is interesting. This was a subduction zone when Australia was still part of Gondwana land. There is basalt at Shelley Beach, serpentinite at Flynns Beach and rare blueschist and ecologite at Rocky Beach. A Geotrail sign along the walk explains more, for the rock lovers there is also a Geotrail app with more information.
Flynns to Shelly Beach
After walking across popular Flynns Beach, admiring the rocks and wondering which is serpentinite, climb the stairs to reach Nobbys Head and then down onto beach number 4. Nobbys Beach is a beautiful spot, not least because of the joyful free play of dogs on this off leash beach.
Take care after Nobbys, when you descend onto the rocky section at the northern end of Shelly Beach – it may not be passable at high tide. No dogs here.
A detour leads off Shellys Beach up to Harrys Lookout. Harry Thompson lived here in a caravan as the self-declared Mayor of Shelly Beach; artworks in this area celebrate his life.
Shelly Beach to Tacking Point Lighthouse
South from Shelly Beach, Sea Acres National Park has high species diversity and protects endangered coastal rainforest on the hillside running down to the beach. The next beach is Miners beach, named for mines that were briefly worked here at the turn of the 19th century. Look for the Sea Acres walking track at the southern end of Miners Beach up into the littoral rainforest.
At last you can see Tacking Point Lighthouse – your final destination! The Sea Acres rainforest track descends to Little Bay, the final beach. After crossing the beach, all that remains is about 100 stairs to reach Tacking Point Lighthouse, built in 1879, with glorious views south to the Three Brothers.
Transport, lunch and coffee!
Port Macquarie has bus services (route 322 follows the coast), but we choose to park our car at the end of the walk at Tacking Point lighthouse, and caught a taxi (or Uber) to the start of the walk for about $20. After finishing the walk, we drove to the nearby Sea Acres Rainforest Centre for a cool drink and lunch. If you have any energy left, the rainforest boardwalk is a short stroll through the trees.
There are many coffee opportunities along the walk, such as the Shack in Port Macquarie town, and cafes at Town and Flynns beaches. There are benches for a rest, playgrounds, public art, water refill stations and toilets.
There is so much to see and do on this walk, naturally there is an app. Download the app to your phone.