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Flynn's beach
Flynn's beach
Oxley Cove Apartments
Pancake Place
Hydro Golf

Port Macquarie for $500

Thursday, July 17, 2003
We decided to see if a family of four could enjoy a weekend away from a capital city on a budget of $500 or less. We chose Port Macquarie, about 400km north of Sydney.

We decided to see if a family of four could enjoy a weekend away from a capital city on a budget of $500 or less. We chose Port Macquarie, about 400km north of Sydney. Here we put Kylie and Paul Reynolds and their children, Liam and Ella, to the test.

Port Macquarie, on the mouth of the Hastings River, has a temperate climate and its beaches, rainforests and hinterland have made it one of Australia's best-loved holiday destinations. Explorer John Oxley told Governor Macquarie about it in 1820. It became a penal colony for young, repeat offenders and buildings from those days remain. St Thomas's Anglican Church was built in 1824 by chain gangs.

To drive the 402km from Sydney to Port and back takes about 1.5 tanks of fuel, costing around $75.

The Reynolds family stayed in the Oxley Cove Holiday Apartments. There are one-, two- or three-bedroom apartments available, all self-contained, including linen. There is a television, video, undercover parking and a guest laundry.

Oxley Cove Apartments are very clean and are within walking distance of pretty much everything. Town is 10 minutes walk and the beach even closer. Two nights there at $85 a night comes to $170.

The Reynolds budgeted for dinner out one night and in the other.

Café 66 is an award-winning Italian restaurant. The budget for the night out was $50 for food — maybe two large pastas and two children's meals, garlic bread and salad — and a $12 bottle of chardonnay for the parents. Cost for that outing would be $62.

The Pancake Place is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and serves children's meals starting at around $5.90 and adult's light luncheons from $11.90. Cost $45.

For the other meal, the family enjoyed the barbecue at the apartments, using ingredients they bought at a local supermarket. They also bought a cooked chicken, salad and rolls, which they enjoyed as a picnic at Flynn's Beach.

They took fruit, bread and cereal from home for breakfast and bought milk and juice when they arrived.

Timbertown is a recreation of a 1900s settler town, complete with steam train rides, bullock display, Cobb & Co coaches and whip cracking. It is open every day and is just 20 minutes drive from town. Entry is free but some activities aren't. We allowed $15 for that.

Hydro Golf & Putt Putt is another fun family activity, located right in town. Hydro golf has floating targets and you win all sorts of prizes if you hit them. A bucket of balls costs $7. Putt putt costs $20. The Reynolds family went for the hydro golf, so spent just $7.

If it is rainy, there is a Kids' Crazy Maze, wonderful for roaming and exploring. There is a coffee area for parents, where they can keep an eye on the children.

There are plenty of free things to enjoy, including, of course, the beautiful beaches. There are six in the area — the most popular with families is Flynn's.

Coastal walks are wonderful. From Flynn's to Town Beach you can see pelicans, maybe dolphins, the maritime museum, court house and a replica of a sailing ship.

The Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park is 20ha of natural bushland with a boardwalk through parklands.

The koala hospital is run by volunteers. Visit and see how well the sick, injured or orphaned koalas are cared for. It is free, but they really appreciate donations.

It's a good idea to plan your holiday expenditure and activities before you leave home, but always be prepared for the unexpected. Don't forget to take plenty of film so you can enjoy the memories.


The mid-north coast of New South Wales


Oxley Cove Holiday Apartments start at $85 a night.

Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Oxley Cove Holiday Apartments
29 Owen Street, Port Macquarie 2444
Ph: 1800 809 193

Café 66
66 Clarence Street, Port Macquarie 2444
Ph: (026) 585 2322

Pancake Place
Clarence Street, Port Macquarie 2444
Ph: (026) 583 4544

Hydro Golf & Putt Putt
Boundary Road, Port Macquarie 2444
Ph: (026) 583 3200

Oxley Highway, Wauchope 2446
Ph: (026) 585 1886

Koala Hospital
Lord Street, Port Macquarie 2444
Ph: (026) 584 1522

To book a flight, visit or call 13 13 13.

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