The largest saltwater lake in the Southern Hemisphere is at the heart of this region. The living is ultra-easy around Lake Macquarie, where the simple things you love never went out of style, the dress code reads ‘barefoot’ and the soundtrack is the gentle lapping of waves on the lake’s shore.
Australia’s largest coastal saltwater lake is a perfect getaway. The beautiful Lake Macquarie is ideal for water sports and sits next to stunning ocean beaches, including the famous sea caves at the aptly named Caves Beach near Swansea, the perfect spot of a classic seaside escape.
Sitting on the picturesque Belmont Bay, Belmont is home to two major sailing clubs and a number of waterfront restaurants and cafes. The largest town on the western side of the lake, Toronto is also popular within sailing circles, with a yacht club and marina, as well as shopping, eateries and an 18-hole golf course.
Naru Beach, Lake Macquarie
Charlestown is the bustling retail centre of the region, with Charleston Square the largest shopping centre in the Hunter region, host to over 280 speciality stores.
History & heritage
The heritage is exceptional at Lake Macquarie. At the Museum of Art and Culture (commonly known as MAC) admire works by famous painter William Dobell, who lived by the lake, and outstanding Indigenous artists. Catherine Hill Bay is a heritage mining township with a landmark old coal jetty, several miner’s cottages, a charming old-style pub, shipwrecks to dive and a pretty beach.
Wander the spectacular coastline on the Coastal Walking Track in Wallarah National Park, just south on Swansea on the narrow peninsula. Keep an eye out for majestic humpback whales between May and November and pods of dolphins throughout the year. You can spot dolphins in the lake, too. Watagans National Park and Olney State Forest also offer plenty of opportunities for hiking and camping.
Boating and fishing are popular – the lake is teeming with bream, tailor and other species. Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are also great fun. You can hire various boats and boards, and even learn foilboarding. Looking for an adrenaline rush? Try tandem skydiving from the small Belmont airport, join a helicopter tour with Skyline Aviation or jump on the Jetbuzz jet boat, which zooms across the lake with heart-racing spins and power brakes.
Cycling around the lake foreshore is a delight. Bring your own bicycle or hire one and pedal on a network of shared paths. The Warners Bay foreshore is part of a 9km route that includes the impressive Red Bluff boardwalk over the lake and the giant spiral slide for kids in Speers Point Park. Looking for an adrenaline rush? Try tandem skydiving or aerobatics with Matt Hall Racing.
Getting to Lake Macquarie is easy. The shimmering waterway is less than a 2hr drive north of Sydney and a short drive south of Newcastle. You can fly into Newcastle Airport and rent a car, and trains from Sydney stop regularly on the western foreshore at Morisset and Fassifern, near Toronto.
A glimpse of Lake Macquarie
A glimpse of Lake Macquarie
Just 90 minutes north of Sydney, you’ll feel yourself easing into holiday mode on the shores of the beautiful Lake Macquarie.
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the traditional owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.