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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
» Rathmines Catalina Association

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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; the water, meanwhile, shelters sharks.

Compared to the Central Coast, the houses here appear plainer, and smaller. The atmosphere is more working class. Mining is a major industry here along with electricity generation, 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. While the Central Coast has its surf lifesaving clubs, Lake Macquarie has sailing clubs and marinas, and even swimming clubs in the creeks. Accommodation is sparser and more expensive, perhaps due to a lack of competition.

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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, passing all of the inlets and peninsulas, the coal mines and the Worker clubs, all of the relics of the colonial history. It's always enchanting to accidentally discover some ghostruins from the past.

d 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. Mscount 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 ° 7' S 151 ° 30' E
MORISSET HAS a rather curious reputation. While local Australians might associate it negatively with the mental institute which opened here in 1909, it later became popular with foreign visitors 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 south 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 bravely caught the train which connects Wyong and Newcastle, and disembarked at Morisset. I sloshed around in the mud and rain, looking for a Buddhist temple which supposedly existed here. I was hoping it would be something like Nan Tien Temple, in the Illawarra, but it was actually fairly basic in comparison.

Photo anticopyright RJ Sullivan

It took nearly 10 years before my agoraphobia had recovered sufficiently enough to allow me to return to Morisset, but this time I had my heart set on finding the kangaroos which were said to congregate in huge mobs in the grounds of the Psychiatric Hospital. As it turned out, this was a rather futile gesture, as the authorities had discretely put a stop to this unauthorized caper by sealing off all access roads to the facility. 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", and a cemetery containing unmarked graves. It made me wonder: 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 amaze me with its capacity for insularity and 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.

At the end of that rather scenic drive, alongside Pourmalong Creek, you will be stopped by a roadblock from entering the tiny community which hosts the fabled kangaroos. If you're a resident, you'll get a free pass. If not, you'll have to back up, and go elsewhere. Perhaps to Cooranbong. It has a bit of history too!

Access denied, outside the Morisset Psychiatric Hospital, 2022



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. In fact, in May 2024 the Minns' government of NSW gave Eraring a stay of execution.

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, along with utes and speed-boats.

Two Bridges over Dora Creek



TORONTO | 33 ° 05' 151 ° 34' E
AWABA, ONE railway station north of Dora Creek, 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, whereupon it turns into Awaba Road, heading towards Toronto and Wangi Wangi. Wilton Road goes right past the railway station, leading the other way. I tried walking that way once, but found it dangerous and intimidating as there is no footpath. It is better to stick to Cessnock/Awaba Rd if you plan walking around. Over the bridge, past the electricity substation and under the Newstan-Eraring Private Coal Road overpass, you will enter Toronto.

Photo anticopyright RJ Sullivan

Eventually Awaba Road turns into The Boulevard, the main street of Toronto, with shops and restaurants, Coles supermarket and banks, even an eatery specializing only in schnitzels! On the foreshore of Toronto Bay, The Boulevard terminates at Victory Parade, which follows the lakeside north and south, with plenty of fine riverine architecture, most notably Toronto Hotel. All day long, CDC Hunter buses zoom by carrying passengers to Coal Point, Killaben Bay and Fassifern. Once upon a time there was a train line here too (the Toronto Branch Railway Line). The line opened in 1891, and branched off the Main Northern line at Fassifern station, crossing over a single lane tunnel on Fassifern Road, and following the shore of Fennell Bay to Blackalls Park. .

Café Déja Vu: 22 Victory Parade, Toronto. Phone: Menulog: Order on Menulog here.
Signature dishes include fettuccine carbonara, garlic prawns, and chicken scallopini. The crumbed squid with fried prawns also looks intriguing. I would like to try the Sicilian spaghetti too, if I ever get a chance.

Catalina Motel: Awaba Road, Toronto.
The name Catalina seems to have some local significance, perhaps due to the seaplanes that flew from the RAAF base at neighboring Catalina Bay, across an inlet at Rathmines, all the way to Japan during the Second World War. They used to hold an annual airshow to celebrate this amphibious monoplane with retractable wing tip floats, which played a crucial role in the Pacific War. My parents attended one of those shows, but sadly they are no more. section and tapered outer panels, all of stressed-skin all-metal construction, though the ailerons and trailing edges are fabric-skinned.

Toronto Hotel: 74 Victory Parade, Toronto. Phone: (02) 4959 1033. Website: website here.
Situated on a hill overlooking Lake Macquarie, Toronto Hotel has played an important role in the history of this region. Built in 1889, it soon attracted holidaymakers, and even newly married couples used to dismount at the now abandoned railway station on Victory Parade. The complex was being renovated during my last visit...

King Room at Toronto Hotel, on the shores of Lake Macquarie, 2024

It's a Grade Four property in my ranking, with cable TV and other perks.

Toronto Thai Restaurant: Phone: (02) 4959 7899. Website: website here.

Umi Restaurant: 2/68 The Boulevarde, Toronto. Phone: (02) 4959 8088. Website: Website here.
For some reason there are not one but two Japanese restaurants in Toronto, on the same street in fact! Umi is one of them, and it boasts colorful decor and friendly staff. The long menu lists donburi, udon, and yaki udon, eel with cheese, and other delights.



BOOLAROO
The lake reaches its most northerly tip at Speers Point. emunmorrah.jpg" alnmorah.htm">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.

Pippi's at the Point Hotel: .
A potential Grade Three or Four hotel, ...





CHARLESTOWN
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.



SITUATED ON THE MOUTH OF TUGGERAH

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





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 STEEP

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.

MURRAYS BEACH
The land originally belonged to Win een gdise after his THIS IS NOT ONLY ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND WILD AND PHOTOGENIC PARTS OF Lake Macquarie shire, 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 |

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 rby 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.
++ghtly shoref="http://homepage.ntlworld.com/ian.lloyd23/holiday/sydney/day2.htm">Brit Do

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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