Enjoy fun festivals and foreshore picnics, admire the sculpture park and William Dobell collection, and savour the waterside dining in charming Toronto, on beautiful Lake Macquarie. Just south is the heritage-listed Rathmines Catalina Memorial Park, a World War II base for the Catalina flying boats.

On the western side of Australia’s largest coastal saltwater lake, Toronto is a popular spot for sailing, rowing, fishing and cycling. On the 3.6km shared cycling path between the Toronto sailing club and the Fassifern Railway Station is a petrified forest created by volcanic ash 250 million years ago.

The wooden Toronto public wharf and a tour boat on Lake Macquarie

The Kurra Kurrin fossilised pines in Blackalls Park, Fennell Bay are culturally significant to the local Awabakal Aboriginal people, who have Dreaming stories about the ancient stone forest. You can also explore Aboriginal cultural heritage in Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery’s fine indigenous collection.

The gallery is a wonderful attraction, with a sculpture park overlooking the shimmering lake and exhibitions throughout the year. The permanent collection includes important works by William Dobell, a famous Australian artist who lived and worked at Dobell House in nearby Wangi Wangi.

Dobell won the Archibald Prize for portraiture thrice. His home and studio is open on weekends. On the short drive south from the gallery to Dobell House take a detour to Rathmines and visit the Catalina Memorial Park, once the largest seaplane military base in the Southern Hemisphere.

Entrance to Dobell House with views towards boats moored on Lake Macquarie

Catalina flying boats from the Rathmines RAAF base took part in the Battle of the Coral Sea, a decisive naval battle against Japan in May 1942. The annual Rathmines Catalina Festival is an air show in May that honours the RAAF flying boat crews. You can take a Catalina scenic flight, too.

Check out the events calendar for more festivals such as Lakefest, which celebrates the area’s aquatic lifestyle in February. The Lakemac Heritage Festival in March attracts classic boats from around Australia. The enticing Farmers and Artisan Market is on the first Saturday of the month.

Toronto is less than two hours’ drive north of Sydney. A great base for exploring, Toronto is near the magnificent Watagans National Park and the Hunter Valley wine region – Best Tour offers wine-tasting tours. Accommodation options range from lakeside caravan parks to waterfront retreats.


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  1. Respect All Markets Cooranbong

    Sunday 16 December 2018 to Sunday 21 April 2019 , Morisset

    The Respect All Markets Cooranbong held in Cooranbong Park from 9am to 2pm each third Sunday of the month hosted by Southlake Business Chamber and Community Alliance. With an overall theme of respecting all – the environment,…

    16 Dec - 21 Apr
  2. Farmers and Artisan Market: Toronto

    Saturday 05 January 2019 to Saturday 06 April 2019 , Toronto

    The Farmers and Artisan Market at Toronto moves to its cooler weather time of 9am to 2pm on the beautiful Toronto Foreshore. First Saturday of each month. Keeping it local, the markets offer a range of seasonal fresh produce, fresh fruit…

    05 Jan - 06 Apr
  3. Lakefest

    Friday 15 February 2019 to Sunday 03 March 2019 , Toronto

    Lakefest is a celebration of Lake Macquarie's aquatic lifestyle and rich maritime history. The Heaven Can Wait regatta involves sailing yachts, dinghies and skiffs racing around Lake Macquarie for up to 24 hours and raises money for…

    15 Feb - 03 Mar