Home to undiscovered gems, the largest coastal salt-water lake in the country and 30km of pristine coastline, Lake Macquarie is one of Australia’s east coast’s hidden treasures. Just 90 minutes from Sydney, it has something for everyone, whether you’re an outdoors type, history buff, or simply seeking relaxation. The Visit Lake Mac team have given us six key themes to put Lake Macquarie at the top of your domestic holiday list.
With nature reserves galore there’s no better way to explore Lake Macquarie than to don the hiking boots and hit the walking trails, with tracks taking in views of the beach and the bush, through to lush rainforest and waterfalls. Top choices include: Boarding House Dam in the Watagan Mountains – A cool rainforest bushwalk leads to a pretty waterfall along an easy pathway, featuring a 110 metre long moss covered rock wall (650m return) Or, for something more difficult, check out the Gap Creek Falls trail, with the spectacular Gap Creek Falls (1.5km return). Wallarah Peninsular Track – stretching from the Lake to the ocean this scenic track takes in bushland as well as the cool Palm Gully rainforest, with a number of side trips leading to local hideaways such as Spoon Rocks Spit and Pinny’s Headland (8km one way). Ken and Audrey Owens Walk – A gorgeous four kilometre network of pathways, boardwalks, wetland bridges and whale observation platforms that wind through sand dunes and restored bushland, with views over Redhead beach and Webb Park. (4km return).
With 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. Highlights include: Kayaking at 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. Lake Mac Kayak & Bike Hire can deliver kayaks directly to your accommodation, or start point. Boating – whether by boat, jet-ski, yacht, catamaran or kayak, there are so many sandy inlets and coves to discover. Bring your own, or hire a BBQ or speed boat Jet Buzz at Cams Wharf. Jet boating with Jet Buzz – If its thrills and spills you are seeking head directly to Jet Buzz, get the heart racing with a Lake Thrill ride, or head out beyond the channel on the Ocean Extreme.
Lake Macquarie’s coastline is as diverse as it is delightful, boasting sandy beaches alongside secluded coves, each with their own iconic features:
Caves Beach – a firm favourite for locals and tourists, with tidal sea caves and rock pools, as well as some top notch surf breaks. Redhead Beach – renowned for its red rocky headland, iconic shark tower and timber boardwalk this pretty beach features its very own café – located moments from the sand. Blacksmiths Beach – the calm conditions at Blacksmiths make it a popular spot for both families and ocean swimmers – be sure to watch out for sandcastles!
For a scenic way to explore the region, jump on a bike and enjoy the plethora of pathways catering for all ages, abilities and timeframes – and with plenty of hire options available there’s no need to bring your own. Both Lake Mac Kayak & Bike Hire and Boomerang Bike Hire can deliver bikes directly to your location. Warners Bay Foreshore – Enjoy a ride along the water’s edge, taking in panoramic lake views and enjoy the elevated over-water Redbluff Boardwalk. With a Boomerang Bike Hire station located along the foreshore riders can simply meander, or enjoy a longer ride. Fernleigh Track (Belmont to Adamstown) – follow a historic rail corridor through bushlands, wetlands and suburbia – one of the best-known, and most varied, pathways in the area (15km). Wangi Wangi – check out the yachts, sailboats, birdlife and keep an eye out for turtles as you make a leisurely trip around Wangi Bay (1.4km).
An abundance of land dedicated to open space and conservation makes Lake Macquarie perfect for picnickers, with plenty of spots featuring a variety of facilities and vistas.
Morisset Picnic Area – get back to nature, and spend lunch with one of Australia’s most iconic animals – here, dozens of roos are just waiting for visitors to come and give them a gentle pat. The park boasts a large grassy area, a barbeque area as well as lovely views across the lake. Speers Point Park – enjoy a barbeque or picnic on the shore of the Lake, and let the kids run wild on the state of the art variety playground – featuring a flying fox, water play and a bike circuit with two intersecting tracks. Pelican Foreshore Reserve – loved amongst locals, this picnic spot features expanses of shady grass, sheltered tables, barbeques and a play area. Take in the relaxing atmosphere, or throw in a line off the small fishing jetty.
This vast area is home to some unique Australian history, with something to suit almost any culture seeker. highlights include:
Dobell House – a unique opportunity to visit the home and studio of one of Australia’s most prominent artists – Sir William Dobell. Volunteers run tours from 1pm – 4pm on Weekends and Public Holidays. Catherine Hill Bay – this historical coal mining town remains relatively unchanged since its former working days, featuring uniform rows of miners’ cottages and historic rail jetty stretching over the beach and out to sea. Free Heritage Walking Trail guides are available at the Lake Macquarie Visitors Centre. Rathmines –used as an important Catalina Sea Plane base during World War II, Rathmines is jam packed with history. Take a walk around Rathmines Park, or join a free tour with Friends of Rathmines (1.5 – 3.5 hour tours, dates and times vary. Contact 02 4975 1973 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
To book your 2016 trip to Lake Macquarie, go to Visit Lake Mac or call 1800 802 044.