The hinterland town of Wauchope on the banks of the Hasting River may be tiny, but it packs a punch when it comes to rural charm and a surprisingly cool ambience. Just 20min drive from Port Macquarie, it makes a great base for exploring the surrounding 40,000 hectares of National Parks and State Forests.
Yesterday & today
Sitting amongst towering blackbutts and tallowwoods on the edge of the town is Timbertown, Wauchope’s major tourist attraction that celebrates the district’s 19th century timber origins. Ride a genuine steam train, take a carriage ride from the stables, watch the action at the Steam Sawmill or try your hand at gold panning.
The town has come a long way since its timbertown roots however, with its streets now lined with boutique fashion outlets, stylish homeware stores and cool cafes, all while retaining its laidback charm.
Hit the road
The town promotes itself as ‘motorcycle-friendly’, encouraging bikers to stop by a rest in its cafes and club before taking the iconic 300-bend ride along the Oxley Highway towards Walcha through the Cottan-Bimbang National Park. Bikers can also take the windy country road to Byabarra and Comboyne to discover majestic escarpments, panoramic views, forests, prime dairy and fruit farms.
Stop in and see Old Bottlebutt, a 200-year-old bloodwood tree with a 16 metre girth, located in the Burrawan State Forest along beautiful Bago Road. There are also many beautiful waterfalls in the region to visit, including plummeting Ellenborough Falls and Rawson Falls in the Boorganna Nature Reserve. Take in the scenery from the Wilson River picnic area through to temperate rainforest on the Waterfall walk in Willi Willi National Park.
At Bago Maze and Wine, the kids can get lost in one of the world’s largest hedge mazes while the adults enjoy a wine tasting at the cellar door. To celebrate its connection with the motorcycle community, Wauchope Motofest is held every September; while the monthly Wauchope Farmers' Market is also worth a look.
Getting there & where to stay
Wauchope is about four hours’ drive north of Sydney, 6hr 30min south of Brisbane and just 20min from Port Macquarie. Trains stop at Wauchope Station and the journey from Sydney takes just under seven hours, or you can fly into Port Macquarie Airport and hire a car to explore the region. Accommodation options include motels and campgrounds.