The retail heart of beautiful Lake Macquarie is Charlestown, conveniently located near Australia’s largest coastal saltwater lake, the Glenrock State Conservation Area and Newcastle. With hundreds of shops and supermarkets, Charlestown Square is the largest shopping centre in the Hunter region.
A short drive east is Glenrock, where you can pedal on mountain bike tracks, relax on lovely beaches, and explore rainforest and waterfalls on walking trails. There are vantage points on the coast for spotting humpback and other whales migrating along the NSW coast between May and November.
Another walking trail is Leggy Point, a 2km loop to Elvis Rock for spectacular coastal vistas and a superb place for whale watching. The track meanders through forest of banksia, acacia, spotted gum and iron bark trees, and in spring keep an eye out for the pretty blooms of yellow donkey orchids.
On the Burwood trail is the heritage-listed Burwood Colliery, dating back to 1861. The 1.5km-return walk is a delightful wander in Glenrock. You’re likely to hear the call of bellbirds and you might spot distinctive male regent bowerbirds, glossy black with bright yellow on their head, nape and wings.
Neighbouring Charlestown is charming Warners Bay, where a shared path alongside the shimmering blue lake is perfect for walking, cycling and rollerblading. The 9km route between Lions Park in Eleebana and Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery in Booragul is part of a network around the lake.
Dolphins frolic in the vast lake, a popular waterway for sailing, kayaking, fishing and stand-up paddleboarding. You’ll discover the gorgeous ocean beaches of Redhead and Blacksmiths on a quick drive southeast of Charlestown, and accommodation options around the lake suit various budgets.