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Holidays & Travel

Lake Macquarie

Travel is well and truly back in full swing and Australians are embracing the ‘experience stacking’ trend to make up for lost time by packing in as many activities as possible in a single regional destination. Offering an eclectic event schedule, high-adrenaline adventure sports, beautiful beaches, stunning coastal walks, and cultural attractions, there are plenty of opportunities to ‘experience stack’ in Lake Mac – all within a 90-minute drive from Sydney. 

Check out these seven experience-stacking ideas tailor-made for every kind of traveller: 

For Adventure Seekers

Those with a need for speed won’t know where to start with the dizzying array of action and adventure activities available in Lake Macquarie, so why not pack them all into one adrenaline-fuelled itinerary? 

If scaling a mountain from bottom to top – or top to bottom – sounds like your idea of fun, the experienced crew at Out and About Adventures offer rock climbing for all abilities as well as abseiling amidst the sandstone cliffs of the Watagan Mountains. 

Prefer your action on the water? JetBuzz offers stand-up paddleboarding and a range of boats for hire, from tinnies to a 12-person day tripper, as well as its famous heart-stopping jet boat thrill ride which twists, turns, spins and slides around Lake Macquarie in a 25-minute adventure you won’t forget. 

Swap the splash zone for the skies in a 20-minute joy flight with Matt Hall Racing, home to the fastest manoeuvrable two-seater aerobatic aircraft in Australia. Thrill seekers can experience high G turns, rolls, loops, vertical and upside-down flight – a must for the bucket list for those serious about adventure. Alternatively, skip the acrobatics and enjoy the view over lively Lake Mac while jumping out of a plane at 15,000 feet with Skydiving Newcastle. 

For Event-goers

The Lake Macquarie region is no stranger to major events, and there are plenty to add to your travel calendar in the coming months. 

One of the most popular picks is the Fast & Loud Festival starting today and extending over the next two weekends until 22 May. The festival incorporates an incredible line-up of action and live performances including concerts, markets, the Lake Macquarie Food and Wine Festival, the Belmont Beers, Blues & BBQ Festival, the Powerboats Grand Prix, Superboat Championships, air shows, a vintage car show, motorcross events and more. 

The annual iconic Float your Boat event is taking place on Lake Macquarie in June, where creative boat owners dress their vessels in twinkling lights and join a flotilla parade as they compete for prizes while spectators can enjoy a front row seat along 20km of shoreline. 

Later in the year, Lake Mac’s busy schedule of events just keeps getting better. In September, the Living Smart Festival will return to foster a love of the great outdoors, encourage sustainable living and raise awareness of environmental issues in a three-day family-friendly program including live music and entertainment. November will see an exciting new event added to the annual calendar as The World Air Race takes to the skies. 

For Beach Lovers

Travellers who love a waterfront escape can enjoy the best of both worlds in the Lake Macquarie region, which is home to beautiful beaches, boardwalks, sand dunes and sea caves, as well as secluded sandy inlets around Lake Macquarie - the largest coastal saltwater lake in the southern hemisphere that is twice the size of Sydney Harbour. 

The iconic Caves Beach is a must for any beach fan thanks to its network of ancient sea caves and rock pools made for low-tide exploration, while the Cave Beach Coastal Walk is the place to spot playful Humpback and Southern Right whales on their annual migration from May until September. Also known for its breathtaking sunrises, Caves Beach is a favourite with local early risers. 

Looking for wide open space? Then look no further than Redhead Beach, with its spectacular backdrop of towering red cliffs at the northern end of a stunning nine-mile stretch of sand. Try your hand at fishing, catch a wave with the local surfers, frolic with the family – including off-leash furry friends – or head up to the Redhead Bluff Lookout for panoramic ocean views. 

If having a beach all to yourself is your idea of a heavenly escape, then Ghosties Beach in Munmorah State Conservation Area ticks all the boxes. Utterly unspoilt, it’s the ideal spot to leave your footprints in the pristine sand and discover one of the best walk-through beach caves in Eastern Australia.

Step back in time to the days of the old-school beach holiday at Catherine Hill Bay, a sleepy village which is popular with swimmers, surfers, fishing fans and families.  The Catherine Hill Bay Surf Life Saving Club and historic Catho Pub are the perfect picks to refresh and refuel after your dip. 

The uninhabited islands of Lake Macquarie are one of the east coast’s best-kept secrets, and the Sand Islands off Naru Beach are an idyllic spot for a private picnic and a swim or paddle in turquoise waters reminiscent of those in island-hopping destinations like Fiji and the Maldives. 

For Nature Fans

The Watagan Mountains are a hiker’s haven and one of the region’s best-loved destinations. Home to spectacular waterfalls (don’t miss the 40-metre cascade at Gap Creek Falls), lush rainforest gullies, bushwalking trails, picturesque picnic spots and campgrounds, the area caters to hardcore hikers as well as those looking for a tranquil stroll in the bush. The Pines Circuit Walk is an easy route through lush rainforest, while the 10-kilometre section of the Great North Walk in Watagans National Park is a more challenging path which rewards hikers with spectacular lookouts and wonderful birdwatching. A horseback trail ride with AAA Horse Riding is a glorious way to explore the foothills. 

For a different kind of natural beauty, the Belmont Wetlands State Park combines wetlands with native bushland and a spectacular sand dune system where you can walk, cycle, 4WD on the beach, birdwatch and more. Meanwhile the 15km Fernleigh Track traverses Glenrock State Conservation Area and Awabakal Nature Reserve, as well as Belmont, offering a family-friendly flat path for cyclists and walkers. 

For Foodies

From lakeside dining to picnics in the park, Lake Macquarie is home to diverse dining destinations which can all be experienced over a delicious weekend. 8 at Trinity is a recent addition to the Lake’s shoreside dining scene, dishing up contemporary Italian in a stunning setting at Trinity Point, while Caves Coastal Bar and Bungalows, nestled in the dunes behind Caves Beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean, is a favourite for long lunches or breezy dinners showcasing fresh local produce and seafood in a chic, laidback setting. nestled in the dunes behind Caves Beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean, is a favourite for long lunches or breezy dinners showcasing fresh local produce and seafood in a chic, laidback setting. 

Crusoe’s on the Lake is a long-time local hotspot within Lake Macquarie Yacht Club. Featuring a massive deck stretching out over the Lake, the restaurant serves traditional pub favourites with a twist for lunch and dinner, or order to go and enjoy your meal on your boat, or picnic in the park. For those looking to take their picnic game to the next level, Luxe Lakeside creates Instagram-able outdoor dining with a view in some of the most scenic spots in and around Lake Macquarie.  

For Families with Kids

Once you’ve treated the kids to a day on the water or a bunch of beach hopping, pop into Warners Bay with its boutique shops, quirky eateries and gorgeous foreshore made for picnics and games in the park. Need a break from the great outdoors? Head to Dullboys Social Co and challenge the kids to mini golf, dodgem cars, bowling, arcade games or karaoke, then cool off with a jump off the jetty at the netted Belmont Baths. 

Tire out active kids with nearly two hectares of playtime fun including a flying fox, water play zone and bike circuit at the Lake Macquarie Variety Playground at Speers Point Park – voted the ‘Best Play Space in Australia’. Win extra brownie points with the young ones by following it up with ice-cream which has won rave reviews in a funky 50s diner at Greg and Audrey’s. 

For Those who Crave Culture  

Lake Macquarie is home to a vibrant arts culture, and there’s always an event or exhibition around the corner. At the heart of the local scene, MAC, the Museum of Art and Culture, hosts exhibitions and classes, as well as a café and boutique in a scenic lakeside location. Not to be missed is the cutting-edge Lake Macquarie Multi-Arts Pavilion, which brings art and innovation together in a space which cements Lake Mac’s reputation as a contemporary, creative region. Visit Lake Mac in early June to see artists in action during the Lake Mac Open Studios event. 

For a more traditional experience, the NSW State heritage-listed Dobell House is a must for art lovers who can step back in time in the former home and studio of the late Sir William Dobell, one of Australia’s most revered portrait and landscape painters – and a three-time Archibald Prize winner. 

With so much on offer, it’s no wonder Lake Macquarie is known as New South Wales’ hidden coastal gem. All that’s left to do is start planning your next experience stacking adventure in Lake Macquarie. To learn more about Lake Macquarie and the best places to stay, please visit:

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