Audio tour

Audio tourB - Port Macquarie Beginnings

Only in English

Port Macquarie has a long and rich history dating back tens of thousands of years with Indigenous occupation by the Birpai people. Following its European discovery by the explorer John Oxley in 1818, Port Macquarie was named in honour of Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of New South Wales at that time, and settled as a British penal establishment in 1821.  

When Lachlan Macquarie visited Port Macquarie he noted the site of the town as most convenient, being close to a harbour, well supplied with fresh water and an abundance of excellent timber for building growing close by. These attributes shaped the development of the penal establishment and the area’s wider settlement and history. The convict population peaked in 1825 with over 1500 convicts recorded at the settlement. The area was opened up to free settlers from 1830.

Port Macquarie is often overlooked in Australia’s history because there is little physical evidence of its convict past. Redevelopment is now uncovering many significant sites and objects from that time.

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