I know it’s a bit cold at the moment but this shouldn’t stop you from going out and exploring the beautiful countryside around Sydney. It’s school holidays after all, so what better time to explore new activities and discover stunning scenery? Lake Macquarie is one of these places I just love to revisit from time to time, and I think it’s clear why. It’s not just the gorgeous country towns or the fresh air in the national parks, but also the abundance of wildlife and the wide range of activities on offer.
Please find below some great ideas on what you can experience and discover in this very popular tourist destination, just 2.5 hours north of Sydney’s CDB.
From the water’s edge to the mountain top there are 100s of reasons to ‘love the lake’
From holiday parks and classic camp grounds to uninhabited islands, secluded beaches, beautiful forests, majestic mountains and more…there’s somewhere special to appeal to every age group, budget and appetite for an adventure in Lake Macquarie. Home to undiscovered gems, the largest coastal salt-water lake in the country and 30 kilometres of pristine coastline, it’s one of the east coast’s hidden treasures – and this is your guide to the best it has to offer.
Towns & Villages
With more than 90 towns, villages and tight-knit communities dotted across its coastal, lake and mountainous landscape, there’s plenty to explore in lovely Lake Macquarie. Top towns include:
- Rathmines & Wangi Wangi – lakeside hamlets packed with cultural and historic attractions
- The Wallarah Peninsula – tailor made for family getaways, home to charming villages, rainforests and historic Catherine Hill Bay
- Southlake – gateway to the district, Morisset is home to galleries, shopping and museums. For a change of pace try horseriding in the rainforest or kayaking on Dora Creek.
With a coastline as diverse as it is delightful – where long sandy beaches sit alongside secluded coves – Lake Macquarie’s beaches are ripe for exploration:
- Catherine Hill Bay – the region’s most photogenic beach, home to rock platforms, a historic jetty and loved by scuba divers, snorkelers and surfers
- Caves Beach – a family favourite with sea caves, rock pools, surfing and beaches patrolled throughout summer
- Redhead Beach – renowned for its red rocky headland, wooden lookout tower, timber boardwalk and fabulous four-wheel driving.
The waterways of Lake Macquarie provide a spectacular aquatic environment ideal for visiting anglers keen to chase after flathead, bream, whiting and seasonal species. Top spots include:
- On the water – The Drop Over, Marks Point and Pulbah Island
- On the shore – Lucy’s Wall, Swansea Heads, Shingle Splitters Point and Balcolyn
- With the kids – Pelican Foreshore Reserve, Pelican and Speers Point Park.
With walking trails galore taking in beach and lake views, lush rainforest and marvellous lookouts, there’s no better way to explore Lake Macquarie than on foot. Charming choices include:
- Gap Creek Falls in the Watagan Mountains – a cool rainforest bushwalk leads to one of the Hunter region’s best waterfalls (1.5km return)
- Belmont Lagoon – ideally situated between the ocean and the lake, this walk is at its best in the early morning or late afternoon when the birdlife is active (4.3km return)
- Mount Sugarloaf – this summit walk culminates in panoramic views across plains and the ocean to Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. Short but steep it’s family-friendly. (1.6km return)
Cycling is the ideal way to show off the treasures of Lake Macquarie to the entire family, with pathways catering for all ages and abilities. Highlights include:
- Booragul to Belmont – with panoramic lake views, mountain vistas and the elevated over-water Redbluff Boardwalk, enjoy cafes, picnic spots, and an award-winning playground along the way (3-5km between major towns, 18km in total)
- Fernleigh Track (Belmont to Adamstown) – following a historic disused rail corridor through bushlands, wetlands and suburbia, this is one of the best-known pathways in the area (15km)
- Wangi Wangi – check out the yachts, sailboats, birdlife and sporadic turtle spotting as you make a leisurely trip around Wangi Bay (1.4km).
Enjoying 30km of unspoilt coastline and a central lake twice the size of Sydney Harbour, Lake Macquarie is a hotbed of water-based action (cruise, jet-ski, wakeboard, fish, sail) for all ages:
- Swinging Bridge Dora Creek – a terrific secret kayaking destination, the trail heads upstream taking in eagle’s nests, lizards, waterbirds and of course, the picturesque swinging bridge
- Pulbah Island – only accessible by boat, this island is home to a nature reserve, making it a quiet spot for a pretty picnic and beautiful bushwalk
- Boating – whether by boat, jet-ski, yacht, catamaran or kayak, there are so many sandy inlets and coves to discover.
With fresh seafood, delicious local produce and superb Hunter wines on offer, there’s a casual café, family-friendly bistro, fine dining restaurant or fabulous fish and chips shop to suit every palate – and budget:
- Awaba House Restaurant & Café – set amongst 15 acres of parkland and adjacent to Lake Macquarie Art Gallery this art deco cafe is the perfect place to enjoy a Devonshire tea
- Salty Dog Bistro at Lake Macquarie Yacht Club – unobstructed views of the picturesque marina make this an ideal location to relax and unwind for breakfast, lunch or dinner
- Milanos on the Lake – a relaxed waterfront venue offering locally sourced seafood in a stunning location.
A Place to Rest
Be it a family getaway, romantic escape, or weekend with friends, Lake Macquarie offers a plethora of accommodation from absolute indulgence to budget-friendly options. Stay right on the water’s edge or high in the mountains, choosing from self-contained holiday houses, holiday parks, hotels, resorts or bed and breakfasts. To book visit http://www.visitlakemac.com.au/ or call 1800 802 044.