Read our writer's views on this property below
Angie Schiavone finds a modest beachside inn with views, an unbeatable location and echoes of convict history.
Plenty of people would happily stamp their name on the holiday town of Port Macquarie but it was the explorer John Oxley who bestowed the honour on Lachlan Macquarie when he was governor of NSW from 1810 to 1821.
Nowadays, visitors settle for coastal immortalisation by painting their name or an artwork on one of the rocks along Port's break wall. It's a colourful, often humorous display that shows how much affection visitors have for the area.
Of course, it wasn't always such a lovable place. Once upon a time they had to employ cannon to ensure no one escaped. The main area of concern, it seems, was on the corner of Stewart and Lord streets, where a convict jail had been positioned carefully so as to deny prisoners a chance to behold the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and Hastings River.
Taking up residence on this particular corner doesn't require criminal activity or a trip back in time (the jail was demolished in 1917 and all that remains on the site from this period is a 35-metre-deep convict-built well). Instead, book a room at the modest Quality Inn HW (historic well) Boutique hotel, enjoy the view and come and go as you please without fear of cannon blast.
The idea appeals to me, so I check in to an ocean-view room with private balcony and I'm pleased to find a fresh, spotlessly clean room with simple, tasteful decor and a comfortable queen-sized bed with crisp, white linen. The bathroom, while small, is decked out in marble and is perfectly sufficient. I'm very happy about the free Wi-Fi, too. The only thing I'd suggest is a fresh lick of paint on the balcony. (Although who, once out there, doesn't have their eyes fixed firmly on Town Beach and the ocean?)
There's so much to like about this hotel. The most obvious drawcard is its headland location. The view is gorgeous. If you don't have one of the rooms with a small private balcony, it can be enjoyed from the first-floor lounge area or the breakfast room. Breakfast, while not bad, isn't as good as you can find at one of the many cafes nearby. Whatever the case, the view is both calming and rejuvenating. To make the most of it, wake up early to watch the sunrise over the water, framed by Norfolk pines.
There's plenty to enjoy here. Stay poolside at the hotel (there's a small outdoor pool with deckchairs around it) or head to one of the many beaches in and around Port. The three surf beaches - Town, Flynns and Lighthouse - are the closest to the hotel. At 8am, Friday to Monday, yoga classes are held at Town Beach. The schedule varies according to the weather and time of year but it's "suitable for all" and just $12 a person (see theyogashala.com.au and click "beach yoga").
Port also has a great selection of good restaurants and cafes. A short walk from the hotel is Clarence Street, busy with the sound of tourists in thongs and baristas brewing. You'll find a top-notch brekkie at The Corner (11 Clarence Street), with Campos coffee and freshly baked muffins, plus more hearty fare.
Also on Clarence Street is the Port Macquarie Historical Museum. Here you can learn more about the early history of Port - from its first inhabitants to colonial times and more recent history. There is an extensive display of artefacts and photographs, including items relating to the aforementioned old jail.
The brightly decorated wall by the water represents Port Macquarie as it is today with various commemorations - families who holiday here every year and couples who were engaged or married in the area. It's novel but also charming, fun and full of stories.
Those after more action should ask the hotel about deep-sea fishing and four-wheel-drive surfing tours; there's even the option to have a professional cameraman accompany you on the latter. Or explore the wall of brochures in the hotel lobby for something suitable - there are heritage walks, horse riding, go-karting, kayaking and more.
Holidaying families shouldn't miss a trip to Ricardoes Tomatoes and Strawberries, a short drive from Port's hub, on Blackmans Point Road.
The intoxicating smell of fresh strawberries hits as soon as you get out of your car but the best bit is you can pick your own from the rows of hydroponically grown beauties.
There's also the farm's cafe and food store, Cafe Red, where you can enjoy a meal or a locally roasted Peak coffee and buy fresh tomatoes, terrific sauces, jams and chutneys.
Clearly, there's plenty to do in Port Macquarie and because of this, there is also an abundance of places to stay. The Quality Inn HW Boutique claims to have the "best beachfront location" - it is good - but what's also appealing is the warm, welcoming staff and the reasonable tariff.
Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.
Address 1 Stewart Street, Port Macquarie.
The verdict All the basics plus brilliant views.
Price River view and spa rooms from $125, ocean-view rooms from $135.
Bookings Phone 6583 1200, see www.qualityinnhw.com.au.
Getting there Port Macquarie is 385 kilometres, or a five-hour drive, from Sydney. Virgin Blue flies between Sydney and Port Macquarie, fares from $79 one way, including tax.
Wheelchair access No.
Perfect for Couples or anyone wanting to relax.
While you're there Swim, surf, walk, learn about the Port's colonial history, embark on a coffee crawl.