Birrbay Artist Featured In COVID-Safe Festival Celebrating Port Macquarie Art

The ArtWalk hopes to attract NSW travellers to help the community recover from the summer bushfires and the coronavirus.
Nobbys Beach at Port Macquarie, one of 17 beaches in the area.
Nobbys Beach at Port Macquarie, one of 17 beaches in the area.

Just when you thought all festivals in 2020 were a write-off, Port Macquarie has pivoted to produce a COVID-safe art event that celebrates First Nations culture and local artists.

Usually hosted over one night, the annual ArtWalk will look different in 2020 and will roll out over seven days in order to comply with coronavirus safety measures.

Visitors can explore artworks across the CBDs of Port Macquarie, Wauchope, and Laurieton from October 1-8 with galleries showcasing the breadth and diversity of creatives living and working in the region.

Lovingly known as Port Mac, the town will transform its main drag of local businesses into ‘The Longest Footpath Art Gallery’ with shopfronts acting as mini-galleries and live exhibition spaces.

Port Macquarie's ArtWalk during 2019's event.
Port Macquarie's ArtWalk during 2019's event.

“We are planning for this year’s ArtWalk to be particularly special as we have found a unique way to support our local businesses and creative community, demonstrating we are there to help them to recover following bushfires and the current pandemic,” said Amanda Hatton, the acting group manager of economic and cultural development at Port Macquarie-Hastings Council.

Birrbay artist Angela Marr-Grogan, a cultural arts and language teacher and specialist in contemporary Aboriginal art, imagery and design, is exhibiting at the event.

“Being able to create and showcase pieces that represent my connection to country and celebrate my culture is such a rewarding and spiritual process for me,” Marr-Grogan said.

“Creativity and language are my two big loves.”

Angela Marr-Grogan, a Birrbay woman with connections to the Dhanggatti and Warrimay people, will exhibit her works at ArtWalk 2020.
Angela Marr-Grogan, a Birrbay woman with connections to the Dhanggatti and Warrimay people, will exhibit her works at ArtWalk 2020.

Marr-Grogan’s works will be on display with four other local artists at Vivianne Hazenveld’s Art Sanctuary.

While residents are legally allowed to travel within NSW, the state has temporarily shut its border with Victoria. At the time this article was published, residents from the remaining states and territories are allowed to enter NSW but may face a strict 14-day hotel quarantine upon arrival to their home state at their own expense.

Up-to-date locations in NSW that have been affected by COVID-19 — known as ‘hotspots’ — are updated regularly on the NSW Health website.

Whether you’re able to visit Port Macquarie and its 17 crystal-clear beaches or just want to add it to your aspirational bucket list for a future stay, here are our recommendations for when you’re in town:

Stay

Telegraph Retreat Cottages

These are Federation-style cottages with private outdoor hot tubs and wood fires for ambiance and warmth. There’s plenty of wildlife around, but the baby donkeys on the property are a must-see. Telegraph Retreat Cottages will throw in a $100 voucher for a local activity to seal the deal.

Akuna Luxury Waterfront Retreat

Lap up the warm spring weather by the water. The packages include a three-course gourmet dinner for two.

Eat

Ricardoes Strawberry Farm

Pay for the luscious strawberries you pick from the latticed A-frame avenues and add fresh cream from the produce shop. Cafe Red offers farm-fresh breakfast, brunch, lunches, cakes and Devonshire teas with farmhouse scones. You’re welcome to BYO booze and there’s no corkage — cheers to that.

Little Fish Cafe Restaurant Vineyard

A seasonal menu by French-born head Chef Steve served in the gardens overlooking the vineyards.

Port Fresh Seafoods

You can’t visit an Australian coastal destination like Port Macquarie and not sample the seafood sourced from local fishermen. Pick up oysters, salmon carpaccio or barramundi for the BBQ.

Play

Cassegrain Winery

Chocolate, cheese and wine, oh my! This mid-north coast winery offers immersive experiences such as a comprehensive tour from crushing to bottling. Don’t miss tasting the local cheeses in the form of a delicious charcuterie board.

Cassegrain Winery, a vineyard in the Port Macquarie area, offers tours and cheeseboards in the vines during ArtWalk.
Cassegrain Winery, a vineyard in the Port Macquarie area, offers tours and cheeseboards in the vines during ArtWalk.

Meet the internet-famous koalas

You can visit the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and see the great work director Sue Ashton and her team have done since going viral last year.

Billabong Zoo

If you’ve had enough of the many beaches in the area, you can meet spider monkeys, red pandas and cheetahs at the Billabong Zoo.

Port Jet Cruise Adventures

High-adrenaline whale watching runs from May to November each year.