A laid-back atmosphere and awesome activities make Port a perfect destination for families wanting a coastal escape that’s not too hectic, writes Julie Jones from Have Wheelchair Will Travel.

Port Macquarie’s stunning coastline may be the main drawcard for holidaying families, but there’s more to explore when visiting this coastal town. Here’s a list of the best beaches and activities in the area.

1. Hitting the beach

Port, as the locals call it, has a smorgasbord of beaches to choose from but Flynns Beach, Town Beach and Rainbow Beach are the pick for families. All three are patrolled, have a good family atmosphere and have beach wheelchairs available for anyone with mobility restrictions. Port Macquarie Surf School operates from Flynns Beach and is popular with holidaying teens looking to learn to surf or improve existing skills.

If you prefer calm waters head 20 minutes south of Port Macquarie to Lake Cathie. This is a popular spot with locals and is ideal for families with young children, or those travelling with canoes or stand-up paddle boards.

2. Sea acres

Sea Acres National Park is the location of a 1.3km boardwalk which winds its way through a rainforest abundant with birdlife. You can do a self-guided walk or join one of the guided walks which is included in the entry price. The easy walk is suitable for all ages and great for prams and wheelchairs too.

3. Billabong Koala and Wildlife Sanctuary

Billabong Wildlife Park is a renowned koala breeding centre and home to a large variety of other animals including Shrek the crocodile, Snow Leopards, Red Pandas, reptiles and more. Kids love being able to interact with the animals including patting a dingo or lizard and feeding the kangaroos. The penguin encounter is fantastic and highly recommended but it is an optional extra.

4. Timbertown

Timbertown recreates the pioneer days giving visitors an opportunity to step back in time. Visitors can ride a steam train, watch a bullock team at work and see a working sawmill.

5. Bago Maze

Bago Maze is situated at Bago Vineyard where parents can enjoy a wine tasting before or after a visit to the maze. Kids will love climbing the towers to plot their way out of the largest hedge maze in NSW. It’s a great place to burn off energy with kids racing each other to the end. On the second Sunday of the month Bago is home to Jazz in the Vineyards.

6. Koala Hospital

The Koala Hospital cares for sick and injured koalas with an aim of releasing them once they are rehabilitated. The informative 3pm volunteer guided tour is highly recommended. Visitors will hear stories about the individual koala residents, see them being fed and receiving their medicine. Entry is free.

7. Koala Sculpture Trail

Fifty-one large koala sculptures individually designed and hand painted by local artists form a sculpture trail around Port Macquarie and surrounding towns. Grab a map from the tourist information centre and let the kids have fun spotting them and marking them off.

8. Fruit Picking

Ricardoes Tomatoes and Strawberries is only a 10-minute drive from the centre of Port Macquarie. Families can enjoy picking strawberries fresh from the plants. This is undercover making it an all-weather activity.

The café stocks a wide range of local produce including Ricardoes famous tomatoes.

Port Macquarie is a destination which sees families returning year after year for its laid back beach lifestyle and the wonderful variety of other family-friendly attractions.