Gap Creek Falls - Watagans S

Wanting a getaway not too far from Sydney, Lake Macquarie has an inspiring array of outdoor activities and winter is the ideal time to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Take advantage of smaller crowds and make the most of sunny winter days with brisk hikes, brilliant birdwatching, fabulous fishing and coastal cycling, then retire to cosy accommodation to enjoy regional wines and local cuisine on a wonderful wintry break by the lake.

Winter days are made for exploring on foot and Lake Macquarie is bursting with bushwalks ideal for every ability, from strolling through to heavy-duty hiking. Enjoy diverse scenery including lush rainforests, rugged headlands, pristine beaches and the lovely lakefront.

Kids on water

The Belmont Lagoon Walk, set between ocean and lake, is a 5 kilomtre return trail that teems with wildlife, especially during winter mornings and late afternoons when birdlife is at its most active.

Nestled deep within the Watagan Mountains, the lush 1.7km Gap Creek Falls Trail features red cedars and strangler figs as it winds its way to one of the Hunter region’s most spectacular waterfalls.

For those who love to cycle, you’ll find cycling paths galore. From winding coastal roads, pretty villages, stunning lakeside scenery, dense forests and heaps of heritage, there’s a cycling adventure suitable for everyone. There’s no need to even bring your bike along as there are plenty of places to hire one.

The Warners Bay Foreshore is the ideal path for beginners, with the track following the lake via the elevated Redbluff Boardwalk. With rides from 500 metres to two kilometres long, the Wangi Wangi area is renowned for its bushland and gorgeous lake views. The Fernleigh Track is an intriguing 16km path that follows an original restored heritage railway corridor, taking in stunning wetlands and an iconic bush landscape between Lake Macquarie and Newcastle.

For those who love to fish, the tranquil waters of massive Lake Macquarie are teeming with bream, mullet, tailor and garfish galore, especially during winter.

Caves Beach S

Lake Macquarie offers a wide range of cosy accommodation from mountain hideaways to lakeside retreats. The newly renovated Esplanade Motel, Warners Bay is close to the boutiques and restaurants, just a short stroll to the northern end of the lake.

Bluebell Retreat, which accommodates up to six, on the eastern shore of the Lake, is the ultimate relaxation retreat. Enjoy the expansive bushland setting and water views to watch the winter sun set at this eco-award winning house.

Selby Cottage is a turn of the century charming blue weatherboard, self-contained private cottage, surrounded by luscious gardens with water lapping the verandah. Nestled on the banks of Lake Macquarie, it is the perfect place to relax and unwind.

Sandra Tiltman

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