For more than 40,000 years the Birpai people have been the original inhabitants and occupants of the Greater Port Macquarie region.
Relying on the land and waterways to sustain themselves, the Birpai people made temporary huts along the river and around the lakes allowing them to follow the seasonal food trail. The region's richly diverse landscapes together with the subtropical climate ensured that the community thrived in harmony with the environment for many thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans.
Today, with its own unique heritage, Port Macquarie is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the NSW Coast.
Discovered by John Oxley in 1818 and named after the Governor of NSW, Lachlan Macquarie, our first visitors were convicts sent to the Port Macquarie penal settlement in 1821 to serve time for secondary offences. The town was built by those convicts and overseen by military officers of the 48th Regiment. Port Macquarie was opened up to free settlers from 1830 and remained a convict town until 1847. Evidence of our convict past can be viewed at various locations including the convict built St Thomas' Church, the well of the Female Factory in Munster Street, the well of the 1840 gaol located within the HW Boutique Hotel and at the Port Macquarie Museum. The historic cemetery at the southern end of Horton Street is home to the remains of many of our early settlers including convicts, military officers and free settlers.
Over the next four years Port Macquarie and the Hastings region will reach a number of milestones in their European discovery and settlement. 2018 marks two hundred years since Surveyor General John Oxley's journey of discovery during which he and his party travelled to the place he named Port Macquarie. A number of commemorative events and activities are planned throughout the Hastings region across this year.
Port Macquarie Museum is an award winning museum featuring themed displays from the first settlers right through to today. Located in Port Macquarie's CBD, it is one of the few surviving early commercial and residential buildings in Port Macquarie and is listed on the NSW State Heritage Register. Open Mon-Sat 9.30am-4.30pm (minimal charges apply) 22 Clarence Street, Phone 02 6583 1108.Mid North Coast Maritime Museum - Originally built as Pilot Cottages in 1896, they now house a wonderful collection of maritime material including superbly built scale models of a variety of vessels, charts, maps, paintings and an extensive collection of historical maritime photos. Open 7 days 10am4pm, 6 William Street, Phone 02 6583 1866.
The Historic Courthouse was designed by colonial architect James Barnet and built in 1869 by local builders Butler and Bourne costing £1,091 and nine shillings. It served the community for 117 years and was restored in 1993. This National Trust of Australia (NSW) classified building is open Mon-Fri 10am-3.30pm, and Sat 10am-1pm, Corner of Clarence and Hay Streets, phone 02 6584 1818.
St Thomas' Anglican Church - Australia's fifth oldest church is still in use. Built by convict labour between 1824 and 1828 the walls are constructed of one metre thick hand-made brick. It features an 1857 barrel organ that plays 33 hymns the only one of its type in Australia. Open Mon-Fri 9.30am-12 noon, and 2pm-4pm, 50 Hay Street, Port Macquarie, phone 02 6584 1033.
Historic Roto House was built in 1891 and belonged to the Flynn family. In the early 1980s, it was restored by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and features furnishings and artefacts from the 19th Century. Pack a lunch and picnic in the pleasant surrounds of Macquarie Nature Reserve, or visit the nearby Koala Hospital. Open daily from 10am-4.30am subject to volunteer availability, Phone (02) 6584 2180.