Explore the best of Lake Macquarie in one day

Australia’s largest coastal saltwater lake doesn’t disappoint when it comes to natural diversions. But it also ups the arts and culture ante, delivering heritage-listed galleries alongside eye-opening sculpture trails, all seamlessly linked by a ferry.

Destination NSW

Destination NSW

Jun 10 -
min read

Lake Macquarie is twice the size of Sydney Harbour. So, naturally, the best way to explore it is on the water. It’s the most convenient, too. The Lake Mac Ferry docks in five locations across the immense waterway, linking cultural and natural attractions along the way. Pick up a hop-on, hop-off pass and plan out your day. Or jump aboard and alight on a whim when an attraction catches your eye. Here’s some inspiration on how to plan your big day out on the lake. 

Bolton Point, Lake Macquarie

Bolton Point, Lake Macquarie

An injection of art 

If you’re in need of creative inspiration, make your first ferry stop Booragul, where the Museum of Art and Culture (MAC) sits lakeside amid five hectares of leafy grounds dotted with alfresco sculptures. There are plenty of reasons to linger outdoors before exploring inside exhibitions, which include a strong roster of Aboriginal art. You don’t have to go far to refuel – the on-site Three Bears Cafe serves up fancy corn fritters and gourmet pies, plus stellar coffee you can enjoy in its light-filled dining room or outside on the grass.  

Booragul Museum of Art & Culture (MAC), Lake Macquarie

Museum of Art & Culture (MAC), Booragul, Lake Macquarie

Step back in time 

The late Australian portrait and landscape painter Sir William Dobell was fond of the Lake Macquarie region; his former home here is now a shrine to his life and creative work. Disembark the ferry at Wangi Wangi, and within minutes you’re exploring the one-time studio of the Archibald Prize-winning artist, his furniture and memorabilia so perfectly preserved you’d be forgiven for thinking he just popped out for groceries. The handsome Dobell House is heritage listed for its contribution not only to art but also to architecture.   


Discover Lake Mac’s wild side 

Don’t be too fast to depart Wangi Wangi Point, part of the Lake Macquarie State Conservation Area. The 1.8km Wangi circuit walking track meanders through a glorious bushland of wattle, coastal banksia and orchids, leading to lookouts offering vistas of Pulbah Island. Keep an eye out for green sea turtles and dolphins below and sea eagles above. This patch of paradise is also home to squirrel gliders, kangaroos, lorikeets and the threatened pied oystercatcher. 

Wangi Wangi Point, Lake Macquarie

Wangi Wangi Point - Credit: Lake Macquarie Council

Park life 

Next, let the ferry take you on an outing to Speers Point Park, a glorious swathe of green with a foreshore promenade offering horizon-hugging views over the lake. Bring snacks for a picnic after your stroll, then head to waterside Multi-Arts Pavilion (mima), a high-tech creative canvas for contemporary art and the newest outlet from the MAC. The dramatic cube-shaped building is an artwork unto itself, and it hosts installations, digital screenings and audio presentations. 

Sculpture by the lake 

Taking its cues from the MAC’s expansive sculpture park, the Creative Lake Sculpture Trail is a waterside loop linking seven larger-than-life installations. You’ll have spotted many of them from the sundeck of the ferry when you first arrive at Speers Point Park. But the best way to appreciate the artwork’s intricacies is on foot. Lace up your walking shoes for a 5km jaunt, taking in pieces by Sydney-based artist Alex Seton – his bronze deflated rubber lifeboat pool toy is a thought-provoking nod to privileged society – as well as by Guan Wei, Guy Maestri, Naidee Changmoh and Antone Bruinsma. 

A foreshore thing 

You can walk or cycle into the lakeside suburb of Belmont along the 15km Fernleigh Track (or at least part of it). Or, once again, make the most of your hop-on, hop-off ferry ticket to arrive at the town’s stop. For greens with a view, tee off at the suburb’s golf course. But we recommend heading straight to the Lake Macquarie Yacht Club’s restaurant Crusoe’s on the Lake for seafood platters piled high with blue swimmer crabs, tiger prawns, Sydney rock oysters and snapper.

Belmont Wharf, Lake Macquarie Ferry

Belmont Wharf, Lake Macquarie Ferry

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