BBQs, bands and billycarts all feature in a bumper line-up of eclectic events in Port Macquarie this year. Plan your visit around one of the many foodie, cultural and sporting fixtures that will spice up any weekend in this gorgeous coastal town.
Meat-lovers can follow smoky flavours around the nation’s biggest BBQ festival at the Australian Blues & BBQ Festival (1-3 April), meet 80 local producers at Slice of Haven (29 May) and learn where their food comes from at the Hastings Landcare Farm Gate Tour (11-13 June).
Groove to the sounds of New Orleans at the Big Band Blast (27-29 May) and the Beechwood Billycart Classic (November) is a hilarious excuse to plan a hinterland holiday.
FOOD & WINE EVENTS
· Australian Blues & BBQ Festival (1-3 April) – now the nation’s biggest BBQ festival, this event is a sensory feast for meat and music lovers, held on the iconic foreshore. Smoky flavours waft through town as teams battle it out in the Australian BBQ Wars and on Saturday Tex Perkins will hit the stage along with a huge line-up of blues bands.www.bluesandbbq.com.au
· Slice of Haven (29 May) – spend your day by the Camden Haven River and meet over 80 local producers of nuts, cheese, wine, beer, vegetables and bush-foods. This year’s ‘Magic beyond the plate’ theme will feature cooking demonstrations, workshops, dancing, quirky stilt walkers and games. 10am-4pm. Entry via gold coin donation.www.sliceofhaven.com.au
· Hastings Landcare Farm Gate Tour (11-13 June, long weekend) – learn where your food comes from at this unique event run by Landcare that visits around 12 farms that aren’t normally open to the public. From the oyster farms of the Hastings River to the lush grazing valleys of the Wauchope hinterland, see cows being milked, chickens free ranging and baby animals being fed. www.hastingslandcare.org.au
· Jazz in the Vineyards at Bago Vineyards (monthly, every second Sunday) – a fixture now for 15 years, Jazz in the Vineyards is the best way to experience the magic of this hinterland winery. Live jazz, cuisine from XS Foods and great wine combine for a relaxing afternoon outdoors, while the kids can get lost in Bago Maze.www.bago.com.au
· Port Macquarie Beer and Cider Festival (24 September) – enjoy tastings from around 50 beer and cider makers, live music, a beer garden and fun games including the Beer Keg Toss competition, inspired by the long tradition of the Highland Games. Westport Park. www.portmacbeerandciderfestival.com
· Tastings on Hastings (28-30 October) – the region’s biggest culinary festival kicks off on Friday night with celebrity chef dinners, continues Saturday with intimate events and culminates on Sunday with the main event, a huge outdoor festival. Held on the banks of the Hastings River with over 120 local artisans, farmers, wine growers, brewers, restaurants and cafes. www.tastingsonhastings.com.au
· Port Macquarie Big Band Blast (27-29 May) – pack your dance shoes for a series of free and ticketed events including an outdoor jazz concert, New Orleans parade and swing dance party. Featuring over 30 bands it is presented by John Morrison and his band Swing City, Australia’s most celebrated 1940’s big band show.www.bigbandblast.com.au
· Ekam Yoga Festival Port Macquarie (18 September) – a day of music, play and connection, this event features talks by some of the most senior yoga teachers in Australia, plus classes, workshops and a sustainable living and natural health expo. Ekam, meaning one, is about coming together as one for the day. It is held at the Glasshouse. www.ekamyogafestival.org.au
· Beechwood Billycart Classic (November) – the gorgeous town of Beechwood, just 7km from Wauchope, is home to this hilarious and fun day out. Watch the thrills and spills as kids and adults race down Mt Pappinbarra with speeds of up to 100km/hr, finishing at the Beechwood Hotel, a great landing place for post-race festivities.www.billycartclassic.com.au
· Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail (daily) – now a permanent event, this free, tourist trail features 50 one-metre high hand-painted koala sculptures set up at various locations including attractions, wineries, beaches, parks and hotels. www.hellokoalas.com
· IRONMAN Australia (1 May) – one of IRONMAN’s original events steeped in triathlon history and a must-do for sport-lovers. This year the inspirational Turia Pitt will make her debut return to the field at one of the most scenic Ironman circuits in the world.www.ironman.com
· Suck it up Buttercup (20-21 May) – It’ll be muddy, messy, and so much fun, featuring a special opener with ‘Mini Mudder’ on the first day. Big crowds are expected for this outdoor obstacle race at Bago Vineyard, so get in early. www.centaurevents.com.au
Port Macquarie is a 4-hour drive North of Sydney or a 1-hour flight from Sydney and Brisbane with connections to the rest of Australia. Call 1300 303 155 or go on-line atwww.portmacquarieinfo.com.au.