Founded as one of Australia’s most miserable and deplorable early penal colonies, Port Macquarie today is one of Australia’s most enjoyable and comfortable cities. Set 4.5 hours north of Sydney on the coast of New South Wales, Port Macquarie is known for its beaches and famously temperate weather. It sits at the gateway to the subtropical north, and has coastal rainforests with wooden boardwalks just steps from white sand beaches. The forests teem with birds and koalas, and “The Port,” as it’s known, has so many koalas, that it’s home to a Koala and Wildlife Park that draws visitors from around the globe. Between June and October, whales are seen migrating and swimming offshore as surfers slash through the waves, and on shore you’ll find churches and colonial buildings that date to a time when Port Macquarie was one of Australia’s first settlements. Bolstered by its status as a wine and food outpost, Port Macquarie is now one of Australia’s fastest growing cities, with a wealth of vineyards, breweries, restaurants, and cafés for visitors to choose from. Add in the network of coastal trails and string of sandy beaches, and Port Macquarie is one of the most popular places in New South Wales.