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Photo Galleries


Climbing the Watagans, Near Cooranbong
Good Friday in the Watagans (2014)
Wrecked car on the old road to the Watagan Mountains, 2014.
Lost Highways
Tuggerah Super Centre
Lurking Around Lake Macquarie
Wyong, Then and Now
Wyong, Then and Now
Wyee Photos
Wyee, on the Way to Morriset



Recommended Websites & Weblogs

» Greenie's Gone Bush
» Rain Radar
» Wild Walks

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WELCOME TO LAKE MACQUARIE :: NEW SOUTH WALES
LAKE MACQUARIE IS A HUGE WATERWAY, THE LARGEST FRESHWATER LAKE IN AUSTRALIA ACTUALLY, WHICH CONNECTS THE CENTRAL COAST WITH THE INDUSTRIAL CITY OF NEWCASTLE TO THE NORTH. The coastal and lake foreshore is home to kangaroos, wallabies, gliders and many birds.

Compared to the Central Coast, the houses here appear plainer, and smaller. The atmosphere is more working class. Mining is a major industry here, and smokestacks frequently mar the views. One might imagine that we have left the orbit of Sydney, and entered the embrace of Newcastle. That said, many of the houses on the foreshore have their own piers, and there is no shortage of boats. Accommodation is particularly expensive.

Since the lake is the center of this region, lets circle the lake in a clockwise style, from Morisset on the west side to Summerland Point and Catherine Hill Bay on the east. ea", perhaps with good reason.

My own parents used to just down the road at Umina Beach looking across the bay to Lion Island and Palm Beach, the habitat of reclusive Sydney movie stars. I used to think it was as boring as hell neighbourhood but I try to stay here at least once a year. I have lived at the other end of the coast too, up in the wild Wyong Shire, near the infamous caravan park at Tuggerawong. My parents at the time were running the discount grocery store there, and they had their fare share of run-ins with murders and other nefarious crimes. Here we go, from south to north, following the caravans of summer:



MANDALONG
LET'S IMAGINE WE ARE TRAVELLING FROM THE SOUTH TO THE NORTH, THE WAY A VISITOR FROM THE CENTRAL COAST MIGHT MOVE. This is also bound to the direction I take, when the Escape from Oz finally begins. If you follow Jilliby Road through the farms and scrublands of the upper Wyong Shire, you will encounter Mandalong Road. Or rather Jilliby Road will turn into Mandalong Road, I am not sure which. One road leads to another, and the road leads ever on. On winter mornings mists lingers over the paddocks, while in autumn the trees are ablaze with rust. Getting close to Morisset, Deaves Road appears on your left, leading to Sauls Road, and ultimately Wat Pah Buddharangsee. Roads have a habit of dissolving into each other, but ultimately, all paths lead nowhere...

Photo anticopyright RJ Sullivan



MORISSET | 33 ° 54' 151 ° 30' E
MORISSET HAS A mixed reputation. Older Australians might associate it negatively with the mental hospital that they have there, which later became popular with tourists and new Australians for the wild kangaroos that can be found on its grounds. Nanny State had the last say, and the hospital was shut off with gated bridges to stop the punters from getting in. More fool Nan. As I previously mentioned, for close to 10 years I was held under virtual house arrest at my parents' property at Lake Haven, on Budgewoi Lake. Even though Morisset was only 20km or so distant, I found it almost impossible to visit. In 2013 I had got the train which connects Wyong and Newcastle, and disembarked at Morisset. I sloshed around in the rain, looking for the temple. I was hoping it would something like Nan Tien Temple, in the Illawarra, but it Is fairly basic in comparison.

Photo anticopyright RJ Sullivan

A lot of tourists used to come to visit the kangaroos at Morisset Park, which congregate in huge mobs in the grounds of the Morisset Psychiatric Hospital. Unfortunately, the authorities put a stop to this caper by sealing off all access roads to the facility, as I discovered when I eventually returned here in 2022/23. It is a pity because the hospital is interesting in its own right. There is also reputed to a haunted ruins in the vicinity, with the rather ominous name of "Hospital for the Criminally Insane". Wouldn't it be better to capitalize on your assets when it comes to tourism, rather than shutting the whole game down?

Photo anticopyright RJ Sullivan

The Nanny State never ceases to surprise me with its capacity for nonsense. Nonetheless if you are interested, here is how you can reach the hospital: turn right on to Fishery Point Road just north of the town. On the way to Morisset Park you will pass Station Street (leading to Bonnells Bay) and Fishery Point Road, which passes the Bay Hotel on its way to Mirrabooka and Sunshine. (Yes, they have a suburb up here called Sunshine!) Fishery Point Road presently morphs into Morisset Park Road, and climbs a ridge. After a short distance, you will see a hospital sign on your right leading you to Silky Oaks Drive.



COORANGBONG | 33 ° 08' 151 ° 45' E
BUS #280 FROM Morisset Station will take you to Cooranbong, a quaint country town in the foothills of the Watagans Mountains. Alternatively, you could drive up on Freemans Drive, which connects with Wyee Road in Morisset. It is quite a spiritual region, boasting not only a Thai temple (the Wat Pah Buddarangsee), but also a Shanti Mission Harmony Centre. My brother went to a Christian university here, Avondale College.

Driving further northwest, you will soon pass Martinsville Road, and then Mount Nellinda Road on your left. Both offer access to the Watagans National Park. Freemans Drive eventually culminates in Freemans Waterhole, in the west ward of Lake Macquarie Council.

Picnic in the Wattagans, 2014



DORA CREEK | 33 ° 51' 151 ° 31' E
DORA CREEK is the next stop on the railway from Morisset. The waterway from which the suburb earns its name is actually looks more like a river than a creek. On the west side of the station, Newport Road leads towards Cooranbong and Freemans Waterhole. On my last visit in 2024, I noticed work on a new housing development with magnificent views of the Eraring Power Station. One of the largest power stations in Australia, the facility is due to retired in 2030... but you never know.

East of the station, a reserve stretches for a long distance, past modest dwellings. Casuarinas, paperbacks and eucalyptus trees line both banks on the journey to the lake.

Two Bridges over Dora Creek



TORONTO | 33 ° 05' 151 ° 34' E
AWABA, NAMED after the native Awabakal people, is a quiet and rather hilly township, surrounded by almost untouched bush. The rocks projecting themselves out of the ground look a little different here, from the way they look in Wyong Shire: bluer and whiter. Cessnock Road passes over the railway line, heading towards Toronto and Wangi Wangi. Wilton Road goes right past the railway station, leading the other way.

Photo anticopyright RJ Sullivan



MURRAYS BEACH
The land originally belonged to William Bean in 1824, who had been granted this stretch of paradise after his arrival in the colony of New South Wales. According to notes from the period, the land here was heavily timbered with "trees of gigantic height". Indeed, some of the tree stumps were so large they could be hollowed out and used as temporary sheds and homes. The area quicly became an important source of hardwood once the Sydney building boom began in the 1860s.



SITUATED ON THE MOUTH OF TUGGERAH LAKE, THE ENTRANCE is one of the classic seaside towns that you can find in this part of the world... (For the full guide to The Entrance, click here.



BELMONT | 33 ° 04' S 151 ° 66' E
The suburb is synonymous with sailing. There are a number of marinas: at Marks Point, on Ada Street, and then there is the Belmont 16s on The Parade...

Belmont 16s: Website: website here.

Belmont Yacht Club: Website: website here..
Photo anticopyright RJ Sullivan

I was made aware of this facility by one of the volunteers at Starett Lodge, but it wasn't until 2020 that I was recovered enough to make it there. ... I finally made it here for my 47th birthday. There is just one place to eat, Crusoe's on the Lake, but it is quality. I ate filet mignon, which was divine.
Photo anticopyright RJ Sullivan



CHARLESTOWN
Photo anticopyright RJ Sullivan

CHARLESTOWN IS the largest settlement in the Lake Macquarie region. It hosts a huge suburban shopping mall, oodles of hotels and executive apartments, as well as restaurants and the like. There is a fish and chips shop there which seems to do a de. The last time I visited with my parents just before Christmas we did pies instead. As is typical in Australia these days, they stuff a lot of things into pies. Even kangaroo meat if you are lucky.



LAKE MUNMORAH
streetmap here
IF YOU TRAVELED AROUND THE NORTHERN REACHES OF THE WYONG SHIRE BEFORE 2017, YOU WOULD HAVE SURELY NOTICED THE TWIN TOWERS OF THE LAKE MUNMORAH POWER STATION, WHICH RISE GREY OVER THE GREYGREEN SCRUB. They were a local landmark, until their demolition.



MANNERING PARK


CATHERINE HILL BAY
THIS IS NOT ONLY ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND WILD AND PHOTOGENIC PARTS OF THE CENTRAL COAST, BUT IT IS ALSO A PLACE STEEPED IN THE WORKING CLASS HISTORY OF THE 19th CENTURY. The village is named after the Catherine Hill, a schooner wrecked here in 1867. Coal was discovered and mined by the New Wallsend Company which bought up the land, built a jetty and opened the mine in 1873. Back in those glory days about 1000 tons of coal a week were taken by horse-drawn skips from the mine to a loading chute on the jetty. That has all faded today -- but to my mind, there is nothing more enchanting than ghostruins from the past. Especially anywhere near the coast with its frequent salty gusts, any ruin is priceless. And Catherine Hill Bay is a ruin. Of a very friendly kind.

(Body of murdered Chinese student found in blowhole in Munmorah National Park...)

The last time I was there I took this photo from the nearby Munmorah National Park, which is a fabulous place with a retro Aussie beach holiday vibe. While we were there, watching the crows battle eagles in the sky, we were treated to an inpromptu flyover by Australian Air Force jets from the nearby air base. It seemed to be a particularly popular place for fishermen of all nationalities, and the seas off the rocks looked lethally strong and dangerous. Container ships sat patiently off the shore, waiting for their turn to fill up on minerals at the port north at Newcastle.

The Sydney Morning Herald said thus about Catherine Hill Bay: "Catherine Hill Bay is a quiet old mining village within the City of Lake Macquarie, 119 km north of Sydney via the Newcastle Freeway and the Pacific Highway. Despite the beauty of the bay and its attractive situation in a valley surrounded by high hills and bushland the presence of the rusty iron and lifeless machinery inevitably colours the visitor's perspective of the bay. Certainly Catherine Hill Bay has a very different feel to the gay, busy tourism-based towns of the Central Coast.

"The village is named after the Catherine Hill, a schooner wrecked here in 1867. Coal was discovered and mined by the New Wallsend Company which bought up the land, built a jetty and opened the mine in 1873. The coastal location facilitated shipment and avoided the bar at the entrance to Lake Macquarie. The enterprise employed 70-100 men, whose cottages, still lining the roadside, formed the basis of the nascent township."
CAVES BEACH




THIS IS NOT ONLY ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND WILD AND PHOTOGENIC PARTS OF THE CENTRAL COAST, BUT IT IS ALSO A PLACE STEEPED IN THE WORKING CLASS HISTORY

SWANSEA
In the days of the the Awabakal Aborigines who used to live here, this area was called Galgabba. It was said to be an ideal place to live with plenty of sea and fresh water fish, birds and animals to sustain upon.

When the white fellas came they called the area Pelican Flats (can you imagine why?) The present rather more genteel and pretentious name Swansea didn't come about until 1887 following the successful petition work of a local postmaster.

Bus 91 and 99 connect Lake Haven with Swansea via the Pacific Highway. On the way, you can stop at some other attractions like Catherine Hill Bay. Visit Caves Beach at low tide!

Photoshoot, at Caves Beach

Churchill's B&B Spa: On Airbnb.

THIS IS NOT ONLY ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND WILD AND PHOTOGENIC PARTS OF THE CENTRAL COAST, BUT IT IS ALSO A PLACE STEEPED IN THE WORKING CLASS HISTORY

SWANSEA
In the days of the the Awabakal Aborigines who used to live here, this area was called Galgabba. It was said to be an ideal place to live with plenty of sea and fresh water fish, birds and animals to sustain upon.

When the white fellas came they called the area Pelican Flats (can you imagine why?) The present rather more genteel and pretentious name Swansea didn't come about until 1887 following the successful petition work of a local postmaster.

Bus 91 and 99 connect Lake Haven with Swansea via the Pacific Highway. On the way, you can stop at some other attractions like Catherine Hill Bay.

Visit Caves Beach at low tide! Nearby you can see Spoon Rocks, constructed to transport coal on to nearby ships.

Stay at the Swansea Motel, next to a bus stop on the Old Pacific Highway, south of the bridge! There is a McDonald's a short walk inland, which might suit me if I am hungry between lessons!

Drink at Swansea Hotel.



SUMMERLAND POINT
Gwandalan Houseboats

WHILE TECHNICALLY being part of the Central Coast, the twin suburbs of Summerland Point and Gwandalan hug the southern foreshore of Lake Macquarie. The powerful owl resides here, and there is an Institute of Sport facility too. Boats (including one houseboat!), blue water, blue skies... distant realms, it is always interesting for me to go back there, and recall past days. As places go, it is a nice place to base yourself, if you want to dream of other worlds.

TERRIGAL |
Photo courtesy Chocolatesuze



WARNERS BAY |


YARRAMALONG |

THE YARRAMALONG VALLEY OPENS LIKE A FRACTAL IN THE NORTH-WEST PART OF THE WYONG SHIRE... Horses, turf farms, home of TreeTops Adventure Park, which is located in the Ourimbah State Forest. It is just across the road from the Yarramalong Valley Horse Farm Stay, a popular wedding venue. While kids might be inclined to dangle from the trees, adults are drawn to the bushwalking and camping opportunities in the area: it took Marek Blas one hour and 37 minutes to complete the Ourimbah State Forest Loop. This is the original "Happy Valley" territory, and one might stumble upon a possible illegal Rave party while wandering around. is is just one festival oany. For a more comprehensive list of Australian festivals and here.
--+- . Street markets are all the rage in Sydney, and Bondi Beach has its share. The Bondi Beach Market is held every Sunday in the grounds of Bondi Beach Public School (phone 02/9398 5486). At nearby Bondi Junction, a market is held from 10am-5pm in the Oxford Street Mall (phone 016/288 907.) There is also a night market held at Roscoe Mall on Campbell Pde, Thrusday-Sunday, from 5pm. The goods here are mainly cotten wear, jewellery and leather.
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WYEE |

The Wyee Nursery is said to be a good place to relax. They have conifers and talking cockatoos.



--+- If you have a working holiday visa, or are a student intending to work, you should obtain a tax file number (TFN). You can apply for this in person, or online at the Tax Office's


 

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