NSW’s largest coastal lake system, the Great Lakes on the Barrington Coast encompasses three beautiful lakes – Myall, Smith and Wallis – and is a haven for boating, fishing and houseboat holidays. Flanked by kilometres of pristine white beaches on the ocean-side, and by rainforest to the west, this natural paradise is the perfect choice for a weekend getaway or longer.
The vibrant town of Forster is the heart of the Great Lakes region, with all the facilities, accommodation, restaurants and activities required for a fun family holiday. From here, you can take a dolphin or whale watching cruise with Amaroo Cruises, scuba dive with Grey Nurse sharks or swim with dolphins with , or hire a houseboat with Forster Houseboat Hire and wake up to the sounds and sights of the tranquil Wallis Lake.
Forster is surrounded by sublime beaches, which can be accessed via the Bicentennial Walk, leading from the patrolled Main Beach with its ocean baths, to One Mile Beach via the calm inlet of Pebbly Beach, a popular spot for snorkelling.
A short drive south via the rainforest and beaches of is Pacific Palms, a relaxed hideaway boasting three beautiful beaches: Elizabeth, Boomerang and Blueys, which has a chic café scene. Bounded by Wallis Lake to the north and Smith Lake to the south, this is a lovely spot to explore calm-water activities such as stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and fishing. In nearby Wallingat National Park, take the trail to the breathtaking Whoota Whoota lookout.
Located 50min drive south of Forster, the riverside town of Bulahdelah is the gateway to the shallow lakes of stunning . where you can hire a houseboat and cruise the lakes spotting pelicans, sea eagles, kangaroos and koalas. Also nearby is The Grandis, the tallest-known tree in NSW surrounded by lovely picnic areas.
Hawks Nest & Tea Gardens
The southern gateway of the Myall Lakes National Park, Tea Gardens is a tranquil town dotted with fabulous riverside cafes and restaurants. Take the public ferry across Port Stephens to Nelson Bay; or hire a kayak to explore the hidden coves and beaches along the river. Across the “singing bridge” is the beautiful beaches of Hawks Nest; stroll along Hawks Nest (or Bennetts) beach before making the ascent of Yacaaba Headland, with the hike rewarded by stunning views of the coastline and Port Stephens.