The largest town in the region, Charlestown is a busy hub halfway between Lake Macquarie and Newcastle, and is home to Charlestown Square, the largest shopping centre in The Hunter. Charlestown is close to the beautiful Glenrock State Conservation Area and is also a stop on the famous Great North Walk.

A short drive east of Charlestown, Glenrock State Conservation Area is a place to relax on empty beaches, pedal along picturesque mountain bike trails and hike through deep-green rainforest to find waterfalls. There are vantage points along the way for spotting whales as they migrate along the coast between May and November.

Street view of Charlestown Square shopping centre at dusk, Lake Macquarie

Yuelarbah Walking Track is part of the Great North Walk that stretches all the way from Newcastle to Sydney. This 6.8km-return trail winds through gullies and rainforest and past two waterfalls to arrive at Glenrock Beach. The track twists and turns to Leichhardt’s Lookout at the halfway point, offering magical district views.

Leggy Point is another great walking trail that ushers you along a 2km loop to Elvis Rock to reveal show-stopping coastal vistas and top spots for whale watching. The track meanders through forests of banksia, acacia, spotted gum and iron bark trees, and displays pretty blooms of yellow donkey orchids in spring.

Coastal views along Leggy Point Loop Walking Track, Glenrock State Conservation Area, NSW, Australia

Walk along the Burwood Trail to the heritage-listed Burwood Colliery, which dates back to 1861. Along the way you're likely to hear the call of bellbirds and spot the distinctive bright yellow markings of the male regent bowerbirds. The 1.5km-return walk along the Burwood Trail links to Glenrock Beach.

Charlestown is flanked by the charming township of 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 that loops around the lake.

Dolphins can also be seen frolicking in the Lake Macquarie, Australia’s largest coastal saltwater lake, which is a popular waterway for sailing, kayaking, fishing and stand-up paddle-boarding. You’ll discover the gorgeous sands of Redhead Beach and Blacksmiths a quick drive southeast of Charlestown.

Charlestown is just over two hours’ drive north of Sydney and 20 minutes from Newcastle. You can also take the train from Sydney or fly to Newcastle Airport from Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Accommodation options include motels, apartments, campgrounds and holiday parks.