Lake Macquarie NSW 

Mark Rothfield
Lake Macquarie is a multifaceted gem for calm-water boating and fishing.

It’s remarkable how green the grass can be on the other side of the fence, with Lake Macquarie NSW being a prime example for the locals who enjoy its waters yet perhaps never fully appreciate the bounty of natural gifts.

I’m among them, as I’ve swum, sailed, skied, slept and fished on the Lake all my life while never really considering it a holiday destination. But a visit with a RAM TRX and Whittley 2180CR in tow, along with a holiday cabin just 35 minutes from home, changed all that.

For the first time, I viewed the waterway through a tourist’s lens and loved what I saw.

Green isn’t the only colour associated with the lake, of course. There’s the sapphire blue of its channel waters, lapping golden sand islets and ringed by the moonstone tones of a rock shoreline. Sunsets are garnet and amber.

The waterway’s character varies enormously too, which isn’t surprising for the largest coastal saltwater lake in the Southern Hemisphere. Dimension-wise, it stretches 24km and has a circumference of 170km. The surface area, 120sq km, is twice that of Sydney Harbour.

A city has sprouted around the lake, with 90-plus towns and villages. Some 215,000 people call it home, 35,000 of whom hold boat licences. There are 30 public boat ramps in all, and a similar number of jetties.

Finding Lake Macquarie is easy – it’s a 90-minute freeway drive north of Sydney, while by sea you’re 22km (12nm) from Newcastle Harbour and 67km (36nm) from Pittwater/Broken Bay. Entering, though, requires vigilance..

First up is Swansea Bar, where lifejackets are a must. Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie’s radio centre overlooks the Heads and its boat base is at Pelican, further up the channel. Once inside, there are courtesy moorings on the eastern side of Swansea Bridge to await a bridge opening – phone Marine Rescue on (02) 4971 3498 or radio them.

Tide flow in the western channel is significant, and bear in mind that there’s a one-hour tidal difference between the Heads and bridge. At the “drop over”, 5km upstream where the channel meets the lake, the variation is three hours.

Much of Lake Macquarie’s foreshore is rocky or pebbly, the notable exception being the sandy beaches and islands around Pelican and Marks Point. This is runabout and jet ski heaven.

Cruising boats tend to head to Pulbah Island, a nature reserve covering 70ha and largely lined by boulders and rocky outcrops. It remains sacred to the local Awabakal people, however you can go ashore and stretch your legs.

The lake generally offers good holding and there are numerous courtesy moorings sprinkled along both the eastern and western shorelines. If you prefer a marina berth or commercial mooring, head to Marmong Point’s Empire Marine Lake Macquarie, Marks Point, Trinity Point or Wyee Bay.

Testament to its down-to-earth character, one thing you won’t find is 5-star resort-style living. Four stars, yes, and waterfront B&B options abound.

Lake Macquarie City Council runs three holiday parks on the eastern shore – Belmont, Blacksmiths and Swansea – along with the western side’s Wangi Point, where I enjoyed a two-night stay in a modest yet comfortable two-bedroom cabin surrounded by bushland and wildlife.

A wide concrete pad enabled my 13m RAM/Whittley combo to be easily parked next to the cabin, and nature has provided a rock ramp opposite the holiday park, which suffices for tinnies but lacks the depth for heavier fibreglass boats.

Better concrete options are to be found at nearby Balmoral and at Rathmines (pictured). Among the region’s ramps rated as ‘excellent’ are Blacksmiths and Bonnells Bay.
Wangi is where SailGP and Olympic stars Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen cut their teeth, and wing trimmer Kyle Langford wasn’t far away. Plans for a Sailing Centre of Excellence are in the pipeline as part of a strategy to position Lake Macquarie as the ‘sailing capital of Australia’.
Fishing is equally huge as the lake harbours a wide range of popular species, ranging from bream, flathead, tailor and whiting, to yellowtail kingfish, big eye trevally, cobia and even dolphinfish. Australian salmon often reside in the channel during cooler months.

Leave the boat at home for a day, tuck a picnic basket in the car, and head to the Watagan Mountains that rise 640m over Lake Macquarie. There are waterfalls, swimming holes, hiking and biking trails plus lookouts and picnic spots galore, all linked by dirt roads.

Especially with a TRX at your disposal, it would be a sin not to explore this Hunter hinterland. Even for locals, it doesn’t come much greener, although so many and varied are Lake Macquarie’s hues that no two days or places will ever look or feel the same.

Visitor Information: visit the Official Lake Macquarie tourism website

Accomodation: Lake Mac Holiday Parks

Read the full story in the Vol 38.2 April-May Club Marine Magazine.


Give us a call on 1300 00 CLUB (2582)
Any discounts offered are applied to our standard rates. Promotional or other discounts may apply from time to time. Minimum premiums may apply. Any discounts/entitlements only apply to the extent any minimum premium is not reached. If you are eligible for more than one, we also apply each of them in a predetermined order to the premium (excluding taxes and government charges) as reduced by any prior applied discounts/entitlements.

Any advice here does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. Terms, conditions, limits and exclusions apply. Before making a decision about this insurance, consider the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS)/Policy Wording and Supplementary PDS (if applicable). Where applicable, the PDS/Policy Wording, Supplementary PDS and Target Market Determination (TMD) for this insurance are available on this website. We do not provide any form of advice if you call us to enquire about or purchase a product.

Club Marine Limited (ABN 12 007 588 347), AFSL 236916 (Club Marine) issues this insurance and handles and settles claims as agent for the insurer Allianz Australia Insurance Limited (ABN 15 000 122 850) AFSL 234708 (Allianz). Club Marine is a related body corporate of Allianz. Copyright © 2024 Allianz Australia Limited