Just a 90-minute journey from Sydney, Lake Macquarie is the ideal destination for a self-driving day trip or mini-break. With the great outdoors being top of the agenda for many visitors, Visit Lake Macquarie has crafted a top highlights driving itinerary for cruising over 60 kilometres of easy road. Travellers can take in breathtaking views during a 90-minute circumnavigation of the lake – the largest coastal saltwater lake in Australia – or stop and explore the very best this regional gem has to offer.
Stop 1: Catherine Hill Bay
Drive time from Sydney – 1.5 hours
A state heritage-listed historic mining village, Catherine Hill Bay features a stunning patrolled beach, twice named among ‘Australia’s 101 Best Beaches’. Popular for swimming, surfing and fishing, the beach is home to a former coal-loading jetty – a favourite subject of local photographers. If you’re looking for a spot to sit back and unwind, a small but scenic picnic area overlooks the beach and boasts tables, barbecues, toilets and off-street parking – perfect for a sausage sandwich!
Stop 2: Caves Beach
Drive time from Catherine Hill Bay – 15 minutes travelling 11km
Lake Macquarie’s iconic Caves Beach is a perennial visitor favourite. Its extensive network of sea caves and rock pools are ideal for low-tide exploration and are guaranteed to keep the whole family entertained. Also home to the Caves Beach Surf Life Saving Club – featuring facilities including a kiosk, bathrooms, barbecues and picnic tables – Caves Beach is a must-visit attraction. Pack your sunnies, hat and sunscreen, get your swimmers on, and enjoy a coastal visit to remember.
Stop 3: Pelican Reserve Foreshore
Drive time from Caves Beach – 10 minutes travelling 6km
Pelican Reserve Foreshore is one of the region’s most loved picnic areas, so pull out your picnic rug and claim a spot on the shaded grassy expanses. This little gem also offers a small sandy beach area where the water runs crystal clear and bright blue – perfect for a dip on a warm spring day. The reserve is complete with barbecues, covered picnic tables, a boat ramp, public toilets, and a fenced playground to keep the kids happy, too!
Stop 4: Redhead Beach
Drive time from Pelican Reserve Foreshore – 17 minutes travelling 12km
Situated in an idyllic location at the northern end of a stunning nine-mile coastal stretch, Redhead Beach backs onto magnificent red cliffs and is renowned for its iconic shark tower. Take a dip, try your hand at fishing or join the local surfers, Redhead Beach’s Cargo Espresso Bar is also well worth visiting for an early morning coffee, homemade botanical soda or delicious bite to eat.
Stop 5: Redhead Bluff Lookout
Drive time from Redhead Beach – 2 minutes travelling 1km
Head up onto the headland to find one of Lake Macquarie’s most breathtaking views. Redhead Bluff Lookout is the perfect spot to enjoy panoramic ocean vistas while taking a moment to block out all distractions. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of passing whales during migration season!
Stop 6: Belmont Foreshore
Drive time from Redhead Bluff Lookout – 13 minutes travelling 9km
Whether you are travelling with kids or road tripping with friends, Belmont Foreshore is a must. The recently renovated Belmont Baths features a jetty (perfect for practising big splash bombs), large netted swimming area, brand-new amenities block, change rooms and foreshore landscaping. If all that swimming gets your tummy rumbling, just a short walk down the road you’ll find Common Circus, known for its gorgeous homewares and gifts as well as fresh, delicious cuisine.
Stop 7: Red Bluff Boardwalk
Drive time from Belmont Foreshore – 10 minutes travelling 7km
Lake Macquarie offers walking trails galore, with the Red Bluff Boardwalk being a highlight not to miss. This elevated boardwalk stretches 380m with viewing decks over the glistening water at Eleebana. The boardwalk is part of a 9km route, which travels around the lake from Belmont to Booragul. Along the way you can enjoy picnicking, bike riding, or a visit to one of the popular Warners Bay cafes, all while soaking in the beautiful lake scenery.
Stop 8: Warners Bay Foreshore
Drive time from Red Bluff Boardwalk – 2 minutes travelling 2km
You can’t say you have been to Lake Macquarie without visiting Warners Bay. This lively lakeside town has everything from boutique shops to quirky eateries and a fabulous foreshore, perfect for post-meal strolls. With cafes aplenty, this is a foodie’s haven. If picnics are more your style, head over the road to the lake and pick a nice spot to enjoy the afternoon.
Stop 9: Museum of Art and Culture Lake Macquarie (MAC)
Drive time from Warners Bay Foreshore – 9 minutes travelling 7km
Overlooking the shores of Lake Macquarie, the Museum of Art and Culture (MAC), is the region’s premier art destination. This award-winning contemporary arts space hosts a comprehensive collection featuring distinguished pieces. Alongside a permanent collection are regularly changing exhibitions as well as a diverse visitor program including workshops, installations, performances, and other activities.
Stop 10: Toronto
Drive time from MAC – 13 minutes travelling 6km
Lakeside relaxation and waterfront dining are a few of the pleasures you can expect to enjoy when visiting Toronto Foreshore. The vibrant sailing scene is clearly evident with a yacht club and marina loved by locals. Don’t forget to stop by one of the most talked about locations to get a bite in Lake Mac, Greg and Audreys. The delicious American-style food, including their raved-about range of ice creams all made in-house (sundaes served with a mini umbrella!) will have you drooling.
Stop 11: Wangi Wangi Village
Drive time from Toronto – 10 minutes travelling 12km
Wangi Wangi is a well-known holiday spot, popular with families and water lovers. Beautiful surrounds, peaceful lake views, good company and friendly wildlife make it the perfect place to relax and unwind. Wangi Point Holiday Park is nestled on the shores of the lake, offering an ideal location for boating and fishing.
With a long weekend on the horizon, school holidays and many sunny weekends ahead, there’s never been a better time to pack up the car and head on a road trip around lovely Lake Macquarie.
Plan your Lake Mac visit at www.visitlakemac.com.au
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