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Less than 90 minutes from Sydney and 30 minutes from Newcastle lies a unique landscape of wild, rugged ocean beaches and coastal heathlands that contrast dramatically with the calm waters of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest coastal saltwater lagoon. Rock art, middens, and stone quarries reflect an indigenous past where, for millennia, this veritable garden of Eden was known by the indigenous as Awaba (meaning flat or plain surface). For 8000 years, the Awabakal people of East Coast Australia explored and thrived on the land, ocean, and lake’s abundant natural resources. Today, the region is known as Lake Macquarie and offers a vastly different picture from pre-colonised east coast Australia, but the natural beauty remains.

Nowadays, lakeside communities radiate chilled holiday vibes, and only a short bus ride away, the bustling metropolitan ambience of Newcastle provides all the luxuries of city living. More than 170 kilometres of shoreline, 110 square kilometres of waterways, and an endless expanse of bays, beaches, dunes, islands, and headlands make up the Lake Macquarie landscape. However, mother nature presents a wide range of contrasting micro-environments beyond the water’s edge. Just a short distance inland, freshwater creeks and deep slot canyons cut through lush rainforest gullies, fed by cascading waterfalls tumbling off the sandstone escarpment of the Great Dividing Range. This diverse landscape offers an ideal playground for outdoor enthusiasts where relaxed lakeside camping melds seamlessly with action-packed adventure.

Caves Coastal Bar & Bungalows was the first taste of the wide variety of accommodation options found in the region.

For those who value five-star lodgings and culinary experiences equal to our five-star adventures, a lengthy menu of ‘foodie’ and accommodation options is available. Everything from craft breweries to hidden coffee shops and fine dining is catered for, but the ’80s holiday charm of ice cream and fish ’n’ chips by the foreshore has not been forgotten.

Caves, Cold Chisel and classic chardies

I used to think the best way to start an adventure was to dive in mud, blood, and guts. However, with my partner Lauren just arriving from the USA and an early morning soul-surf lesson on our schedule, we decide a round of Bloody Marys might be better than risking bloodying ourselves. So, we promptly book ourselves into a luxurious villa at Caves Coastal Bar & Bungalows, ready to embark on a cushy-kinda-adventure.

According to local history, Caves Beach owes its popularity to a group of surf lifesavers from Swansea who built a new club at the south end of the beach in the late 1920s. Today, that same wild coastline is dotted with jagged rocky reefs and pristine sandy beaches. Nestled within the rocky headlands lies an intricate network of awe-inspiring sea caves, sculpted over time by the ocean’s relentless power. These magnificent caves are accessible only during low tide, and the best time to visit is when a low tide coincides with dawn. As the sun rises over the ocean, it bathes the sea caves in a golden glow and creates a stunning silhouette of the sandstone rock arches against the sunrise’s vibrant pink and orange hues. For many, such a sight is well worth the visit alone.

This part of the NSW north coast is ruggedly spectacular, with plenty of beaches (and coastal caves) to explore.

Caves Coastal Bar & Bungalows is only a short stroll from the beach. This resort-style accommodation offers a range of beachside bungalows, villas, and townhouses, all interconnected by timber boardwalks. Loz and I find ourselves in a peaceful lagoon-view bungalow with a private overwater deck, a perfect setting to plan our week-long Lake-Mac Luxe adventure. However, Loz’s idea of an adventure is primarily food exploration with a sidebar of physical activity, and she’s already booked us into TINTA Belmont for dinner.

Located at the picturesque Belmont Jetty, TINTA is the perfect spot to appreciate sunset views of Lake Macquarie and the Watagan Mountains while indulging in a glass of bubbles and some brilliant meals. Whatever your fare – paddock, garden, or sea – there is a plethora of local produce, accompanied by local Hunter Valley wines. There is no better way to fuel up for our days of adventure ahead. 

Sun, sand, surf… and turf

There’s not much better in life than waking to the sound of waves crashing on a nearby shoreline, but as much as my desire is to race to the waves, caffeine is a priority. Thus, it is a pleasant surprise to find both Mylo’s (at Caves Beach Surf Club) and Boffee Cafe (a five-minute walk from the beach) offering quality barista coffee. Mylo’s offers the best sunrise location; however, Boffee opens an hour earlier and serves Melbourne-style latte art. I am quickly sold. As such, Loz and I find ourselves with Boffee coffee in hand, waiting by the waves for Mikayla from Women Soulful Surf.

Tall, blonde, and confident, Mikayla epitomises the ‘Bronzed Aussie’ image. Following brief introductions, she happily admits she lives for the ocean and Women Soulful Surf. Created by yoga instructor and keen surfer Helena Richardson, Women Soulful Surf aims to promote health and fitness of both body and mind for women, primarily through yoga and surfing.

Up and surfing on the first day of lessons with Women Soulful Surf is a big win.

Now, gender-specific activities are not usually Loz’s preference, but Mikayla’s calm, casual, and inclusive approach to teaching quickly wins her over. It immediately becomes apparent (to both of us) that Mikayla offers a much more thorough understanding of both female physiology and psychology, which resonates far better than my “half-arsed-boyfriend-surf-lessons” that typically involve a lot of eye-rolling from both parties.

Thirty minutes into the lesson, Loz’s tentative nervousness has been replaced with focused determination to surf every wave to the shore, and she is doing so often. By the time I return from a sneaky body-surf, Loz is messaging her sister in England with a plan to meet up at the Women Soulful Surf camp in Lombok, Indonesia. And I am not invited.

Later, we bust back for brekky at Boffee. Just as we are about to dig in, Pete from Out & About Adventures buzzes my phone.
“Are we on for this afternoon?” he asks excitedly. “Meet at 12. Oh! And bring spare socks.”
Pete guides everything from kayaking or caving to canyoning and climbing, and his home just so happens to be on the doorstep of Watagans National Park

Watagans National Park, sprawling across roughly 6,751 hectares is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The park boasts numerous walking trails, day-visit areas, and campgrounds that offer a host of activities such as hiking, gravel-biking, cycle touring, picnicking, swimming, canyoning, rock climbing, abseiling, and camping. Adjacent to the national park are Watagan, Olney, and Heaton state forests and Jilliby State Conservation Area, open to a range of activities such as horse riding, four-wheel driving, camping, trail bike riding, and mountain bike riding.

We begin our journey at the newly reopened Gap Creek campground. The campsite is located amidst grass trees, ironbark, and towering blue gum trees. For a booking fee of only six dollars guests enjoy free gas BBQs, fire pits, pit toilets and picnic tables, whilst wallabies, goannas, and even lyrebirds can all be found within a “Coo-ee” of camp. With limited mobile reception, the campground is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts seeking tranquility and adventure.

Donning packs, we head for Gap Creek Falls, a moderately challenging 30-minute, 1.5-kilometre (return) walk. Beginning at the visitor’s car park, the track winds through towering eucalyptus trees before descending a rock staircase and a slightly rutted path to a breathtaking natural amphitheatre. Cascading 40 metres from the cliffs above, the sight of Gap Creek Falls in full flow is mighty impressive, which is why it is widely regarded as one of the finest waterfalls in the Hunter Region. On a hot day, a refreshing dip in the rocky pool beneath the falls is a luxury before a rather sweaty climb back to the car.

The changes in terrain and vegetation along the Gap Creek Falls are significant – and often spectacular.

Following Peter’s lead, we explore deeper into the towering blue gum, spotted gum, and blackbutt forest. The vivid red of the Illawarra flame trees penetrates the canopy and adds a touch of vibrancy to the lush green landscape. As contours grow closer, the old man banksia of dry sclerophyll forest gives way to the strangler fig and giant tree ferns of damp rainforest gullies. Soon, we are wading in crystal-clear streams, home to eastern freshwater crayfish. On noticing the stream’s disappearance, Peter reveals a deep slot canyon cutting through the landscape with an abseil and underwater swim. Unfortunately, we don’t have a canyoning kit with us.

Pushing forward for another half hour, we stumble upon a rocky outcrop. Under an overhang is a stencil painting of a handprint and boomerang, clearly visible. Intrigued, we notice a barely discernible faded handprint to the side. This region is home to numerous indigenous sites, both listed and unlisted, including hidden rock art. Among these sites are those with great significance to the Awabakal community. Additionally, visitors can explore the middens and stone quarries of Glenrock State Conservation Area, the axe-grinding grooves, and middens of Ngor-rion-bah (Jewells Swamp), and Pulbah Island, where Naruta-Ka-Wa, the Great Sky Lizard, resides.

Lauren is dwarfed by the rugged natural amphitheatre at the base of Gap Creek Falls.

We take a moment to consider life when the Awabakal people hunted thriving populations of the now-threatened brush-tailed rock wallaby or yellow-bellied glider. The stencils are a poignant reminder of the rich history of this land and the Indigenous peoples who inhabited it long before us. 

Returning to our vehicles, exhausted but exuberant, we quickly head back to our accommodation just in time to change from jungle khaki to denim and linen; much better suited to the buzzing vibe of Caves Coastal Bar where we relax and unwind over some tacos and live band after our invigorating hike.

Coastal cruising

I’ll be honest: any walking track that starts at a cafe is a win in my books, especially one that happens to also start on a picturesque beach. In short, the Coastal Walking Track, beginning at Mylo’s Cafe at Caves Beach, is hard to beat. 

The Coastal Walking Track is a picturesque 5km (return) walk meandering south from Caves Beach to Pinny Beach. It varies from beach walking to suburban pathways to firetrails and singletrack, contouring the coast to Wallarah NP. The hike offers stunning views of the cliffs, beaches, and open Pacific Ocean and takes anywhere from a few hours to all day, depending on whether you choose to swim, fish, surf, or whale/bird watch along the way.

Watts pauses along the Coastal Walking Track for photographic inspiration. He doesn’t have to look far…

Immediately out of Caves Beach, Loz and I are met by several reptilian friends. Firstly, a chilled python enjoying the sun and clear skies as much as we were, and then several inquisitive jacky dragons. We aren’t quite in-season for humpback or southern right whale sightings (keep an eye out in winter). Still, as we head toward Spoon Rock Bay, we are thrilled to spy a nankeen (Australian) kestrel darting in and out of the undergrowth, whilst a majestic white bellied sea eagle soars above the cliffs and coves. 

Not far into the walk we arrive at Spoon Rock Bay, a hidden gem on a hot day. The old Mawson breakwall shelters the secluded beach, and it can be a haven for swimming or snorkelling when other beaches are affected by wind and swell. The beach is un-patrolled year-round, so it is not a smart choice for families or visitors unused to the ocean. 

Heading south from Spoon Rock Bay, the coast gets rocky and wild, but the track is easygoing as it winds past Quarry Beach and Quarry Head. The heathland is criss-crossed with old four-wheel drive trails, but continuing south, the main track descends to Pinny Beach.

Far enough from civilisation to feel secluded, yet only a short 1km walk back to Spoon Rock Road, Pinny Beach is an ideal destination for those short on time. Exposed to the brunt of the Pacific Ocean, it is excellent for rock fishing and offers decent surf in the right conditions. However, being a deep water, un-patrolled beach with rips at both ends, it is better for land-based exploration and not recommended for swimming or snorkelling on all but the calmest days. 

Regrettably, with an afternoon of mountain biking (MTB) on the agenda, we cut short our tidal pool pottering to return to Caves Beach. Those seeking a longer walk can continue 3.7km south to Catherine Hill Bay and its historic pier. Along the route, a 1km detour leads to some old graffiti’d WWII bunkers and remnants of RAAF Radar Station 208, or you can remain on the coast to explore Shark Hole, where a ladder and rope allows hikers to descend into a unique slot-canyon-like chasm. 

Coastal cranking

Following a spectacular morning traipsing beachside singletrack, I look forward to hitting Glenrock Mountain Bike Park for a speedier experience of the region’s coastal trails. Found within Glenrock State Conservation Area, the Glenrock trails are a success story of NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service working hand in hand with Glenrock Trail Alliance to convert a former network of unsanctioned trails into 14km of purpose-built singletrack and 20km of linked management track.

The Glenrock MTB trails weave in and out of densely forested national park to offer brilliant coastal views for riders.

Only a short drive from Newcastle, Glenrock has become a popular destination for mountain bikers of all levels. Predominantly made up of cross-country, all-mountain and flow trails, the network also has a smattering of janky downhills and jump tracks. The dusty berms and small rock hips of the blue trails are superb fun for novice to intermediate riders but simultaneously test skill and nerves for gravity-fiends who want to charge at Mach-10. Not only do the trails fall from dusty sandstone to lush rainforest, but Glenrock is one of the few mountain bike destinations in Australia where trails finish on the beach.

While Loz chooses to sit this out, Chris Ting from VMG E-Mountain Bikes and Matt Edwards from Trails View Cycle Trader in Sydney use the afternoon to pedal their bikes rather than wares. Local legends Dane Critchlow and Laura Renshaw also interrupt a weekend racing the Black Pearl Quad Crown MTB event (held in this region) to offer our motley crew a taste of their local trails. 

For novices and families, the Yuelarbah Trail is an easy 2km gravel road descending past Little Flaggy Creek to Burwood Beach. Perfect for ‘cruisers’ who prefer swimming over sweating, the trail leads to the beach and lagoon, offering an opportunity to cool off on a hot summer day. For a side excursion, a stroll along the Yuelarbah walking track leads to some waterfalls, or a pedal along the eastern portion of Baileys Management Trail offers a friendly blue trail weaving through picturesque woodlands.

Loading up on a berm before accelerating out of the corner amidst Glenrock’s fern-laden lower trail sections.

For adrenalin seekers, however, plenty of rocky and dusty singletrack exist to challenge even the best. Straight from the car park, Double Barrel is a green trail leading to the fun switchbacks of Twisties. We hit both a few times to get our legs working before searching for something steeper. Traversing the western boundary, Kenny’s transports riders to the Northern end of the park, with an optional sneaky rock garden of Kenny’s Black along the way. If berms, switchbacks, rocks, and drops are more your thing, then the black-diamond fun of BJ’s Surprise is for you. Our posse spends a good hour hooting and hollering a mix of trails before finding ourselves at the coast.

From the beach, we about-face to bust up Snakes and Ladders and hook into Seismic’s newly built flowing berms before wrapping with airtime practice on Pump Action and Six Shooter. 

With so much on offer, we could keep exploring, but a sinking sun means a beeline back to the cars, albeit with an old-fashioned skid-fest along the way.  Back at the car, I receive a message from Loz: “Tomorrow is sorted. You will need your board shorts. Oh, and maybe a tie.” I guessed her menu exploration has been a success as well.

Foiling and fine dining

It isn’t until midday that we roll into Trinity Point Marina for a quick bite before our first-ever FLITE Board experience. I’m expecting a battered boat shed and fish-chips and so you can imagine my surprise when instead of diesel-stained salty dogs there are chino-clad gents in Polo Ralph Lauren shirts and ladies wearing Victoria Beckham dresses. Out the front of the 350-seat grand dining room of 8 at Trinity a Bentley Continental is parked. Upon entry, two cocktails sit waiting at the bar; one is changing colour before my eyes, and the other is wafting smoke into the air. I spy a $400 Japanese Kagoshima A5/Mbs12+ Wagyu Scotch Fillet on the menu (whatever that means), and then a waiter walks past with Hong Kong-style whole lobster. Loz is at home and grinning ear to ear. And so, “When in Rome, order a smoking cocktail!” I say.

The dining room at 8 at Trinity is next-level, with not only an excellent menu, but magic lakeside ambience.

Sat within view of our soon-to-be FLITE Board arena, we meet with managing director of 8 at Trinity, Natalie Johnson. She and her husband, Keith, built the venue from the ground up, and she reveals, “Half the locals thought we were mad. But I knew it would work.” Now, serving up to 1000 patrons daily and with a queue out the door, even the locals admit to liking a bit of luxury.

Mark up and gliding on the FLITE Board thanks to excellent tuition from Kelsey at Trinity Point Marina.

Arriving at the marina, our instructor, Kelsy, explains FLITE boarding as simply surfing on an electric hydrofoil. A hand throttle regulates speed, and the aim is to find yourself flying smoothly, half a metre above the surface. 
“Just take it easy and start on your knees,” he advised. 
Too late, I jump straight to my feet and promptly face-plant the water. Surprisingly, and with a taste of humble pie and a little coaching, I soon find myself cruising half a metre above the lake only 15 minutes later. I quickly learn arcs are better than cutbacks, while sweeping turns keep the speed, and the grin. For 45 minutes, we slice up a mirror-like Lake Macquarie and had our batteries not faded with the light, I might have kept going. 

Returning to 8 At Trinity, we overindulge yet again. I am definitely getting the hang of this ‘luxe’ adventure thingy. 

Urban clamping and a saltmarsh sail

We don’t have far to travel for our night’s lodgings, for we have decided to shift camp to a Safari Tent at Sails Holiday Park in Belmont. The two-bedroom glamping tents offer a stylish, rustic ambience with plenty of creature comforts. There’s an ensuite bathroom, air-conditioning, a cushy four-post queen bed, and a hanging wicker armchair with pony rider cushions for some downtime reading. Yep, it’s seriously comfy.

The schmick interior of the safari tent at Sails Holiday Park, in Belmont.

Full from our long lunch, we nibble charcuterie on the deck before settling in for a restful night under canvas. We also take it easy with a coffee on the deck the next morning before meeting Shaun at Lake Macquarie Kayak Adventures

With a breeze whipping up whitecaps on the lake, we are glad when Shaun suggests a two-hour eco-kayak at Black Neds Bay rather than battling the waves on open water. Sandwiched between the Pacific Highway, Swansea Channel, Swansea Heads and Caves Beach, the coastal waters around Black Neds Bay are a haven for crabs, juvenile fish, stingrays, and a plethora of waterbirds. The bay is named after a local Awabakal man, who was the last of his tribe, and lived on the bay with his wife in the mid-1800s. It is a twitcher’s heaven; ospreys stand guard over the channel looking for surfacing salmon while crested terns swoop the shallows for baitfish. Egrets, heron, oyster-catchers and curlews are all in abundance, and below the surface mud crabs, stingrays and even dusky flatheads can be spied through the transparent hull of the kayaks.

Exploring Black Neds Bay in sit-on-top kayaks. This area is packed with fauna, from stingrays and juvenile fish, to osprey and other birdlife.

Having paddled to the sandy stretch of Mats Point in the Swansea Channel, we return to Black Neds Bay to weave our way back through a maze of mangroves. Far from the adrenalin sports of mountain biking or flight boarding, this coastal cruise is a much calmer experience and a perfect way to dial things back—an excellent activity for families or those new to kayaking. 

Unsurprisingly, we eventually dock our kayaks to the simultaneous grumble of Loz’s stomach and so beeline for some lakeside pub grub. Our destination is the massive overwater deck at Crusoe’s on the Lake at Lake Macquarie Yacht Club. There’s plenty of seafood on the menu and burgers, schnitzels, and nibbles. We hook in, buoyed by our excuse of needing to ‘fuel up’ before SUP and kiteboarding the following day. 

A cold front rolling off the Watagans Mountains stymies our day of kitesurfing and SUP with Jamie at Kite and SUP in Warners Bay, but our lactic muscles thank the weather gods for a day of rest. Instead, we take advantage of the Lakehouse at Fishing Point for some home cooking and R&R. The lavish, four-bedroom modern house is overkill for just the two of us. Still, a gallery kitchen, private pool and manicured foreshore lawn leading to a private jetty is not wasted on either of us. Moreover, the garage provides an ideal spot to charge our e-bikes for the next day’s adventures.

More bikes… and breweries

Awaba’s dense eucalypt and lush rainforest trails are a long way from the coastal trails of Glenrock, so it was rather fortunate when trail builder, MTB advocate, and Hunter Mountain Bike Club vice president Dallas Barham turned up to offer a quick overview.

While he can’t ride with us, Dallas quickly suggests hitting the Development Track for a warm-up. Then maybe get the legs and heart pumping a little on the Mount Faulk Trail Climb before traversing the Biraban Track. If we want to truly test our mettle, the double-black-diamond trail ‘Monkey’ serves as a Pro level DH track, but Dallas is quick to explain it is a full-face, body armour kind of trail, so maybe we best not tackle it in the all-mountain gear we are adorned in. 

Local legend Dane Critchlow has once again agreed to act as a guide. Not so coincidentally, Dane’s property sits adjacent to the Awaba trails, which we agree is close to the perfect home base. With Dane onboard, we soon convince the VMG crew to join again, but this time, MTB coach Chris Tobin and his hard-charging daughter Amy also turn up… to show us up. Our posse is complete.

The dense rainforest and towering eucalypts are highlights for riders of the Awaba MTB trails.

We smash out a couple of loops of the Development Track and are immediately pumped. It is only rated green, but is super fun and perfect for families, beginners, and adaptive bikes. The Hunter Mountain Bike Club has put immense effort into building trails suitable for adaptive bikes, and Dallas hopes to expand the Awaba adaptive network to build more loops. At present, the adaptive network includes Breakaway Loop and Twisties Skills.

After two laps of the development trail, it becomes apparent that today’s Awaba posse is not here to dilly-dally, so we hit the Faulks Road climb. Pedal-assist is a blessing, and we soon encounter the Biraban Track. As sweat increases, so does our small posse’s froth factor. Moments later, we are traversing spectacular rainforest gullies on elaborate metal grate-ways and winding our way through the forest. We descend a short switchback mecca through an impressive grass-tree garden, and with every feature being ‘rollable’, we can blast the trails as fast as our capabilities allow. 

While super fun for intermediates, Chris, Matt, and Dane show us how a blue trail can be ridden at the next level if you find the right corners to rail and rocks to pop. Amy is very obviously her father’s daughter, showing us all up with a smooth riding style, and so it is only a short time before we are back in the rainforest and lower altitude trails. 

Looping through palm forest and over streams, the air is cooler, and we could have gone all day, but once again, I get a ping on my phone. I am overdue for an appointment with Bread and Brewery in Morisset… and nobody should keep a brewer waiting. I hastily depart.

Jay Beckham chats about his unique approach to craft brewing at Bread and Brewery.

I meet Jay Beckham at Bread and Brewery still adorned in mountain bike apparel and am immediately drawn into a world of barley, hops, and ancient brewing techniques. Jay is all about small-batch, bespoke beers for those who want to have their palettes challenged. When Loz explains she doesn’t like beer, Jay is ecstatic. 
“You are the exact customer I love!“ he excitedly proclaims.
“My beers are not what you might expect. Yes, I have lagers and IPAs, but most of my brews are cultivated from people, personalities, and objects. Some are sweet, some are sour, some… well, I don’t even know what they are. I do have a beer that draws from a diesel mechanic who wants to retire on a lemon farm.” And with that, he fills a tasting glass.

I’ve got to be honest; I am beginning to think maybe Jay is batsh#t-crazy, but I take a sip all the same. Incredulously, the ale starts smooth and smoky but ends with a citrus zing. Jay is not mad; he’s a genius. We spend the next hour talking about all things beer, and Jay reveals he hopes to change the way people think about beer but also do so without destroying the planet. He points to the living wall and reveals the plants are fixed to old shipping pallets. Even our tasting glasses are moulded from cut-down Corona bottles. He elaborates on a dream to make bread from used hops. He hasn’t managed to get that one approved yet, so he has partnered with Burnt Honey Bakery to get it done. 

On the beer front, Loz is enjoying what she describes as more a “Pet-Nat wine than a beer.” Jay doesn’t just champion his brewing but also that of Lake Mac Brewing Co, and The Yard Brewery and Smokehouse, both around the corner. We have a tasting schedule with The Yard next, so say farewell to Jay, but not without nabbing a growler of Kryptonian Hefeweizen to take with us.

The Yard Brewery and Smokehouse is a brewery and popular dining establishment offering everything from brisket to pizza and wine to cocktails. There’s live music on weekends, a vast bar and outdoor area and a cafe serving quality coffee. 

The Yard Brewery and Smokehouse
The Yard Brewery and Smokehouse has it all, from brilliant craft beers to plenty of good food.

As I sample the Oat Cream IPA, I notice a sourness in Loz’s expression. I haven’t realised that Loz has starved herself all day in preparation for a Smokehouse brisket burger with American cheese and homemade BBQ sauce. But I took too long mountain biking and we’ve missed the kitchen. 

My overly long MTB ride, has also meant we’ve missed a visit to Lake Mac Brewing Co, one of the ‘originals’ of the local brewing scene. Run by owner Luke Willis, it specialises in sustainable brewing with fun pales and spicy chicken wings Yep, I really was in trouble. Uh, oh…

More than one excuse to return

It’s the last night of our Lake-Mac-Attack, and not wanting to leave on a ‘downer’ (read: I need to redeem myself), we beeline to Mizumi Japanese in Toronto… and I am saved. Even Loz agrees our Japanese feast might have been worth missing the brisket. With gyoza and nigiri aplenty, we reflect on a whirlwind week. We’ve surfed, trekked, mountain biked and kayaked. We’ve been served coffee by the sea and fish ’n’ chips by the lake and sampled some of the finest dining in NSW.  We’ve experienced Awabakal culture to surf culture to dirt culture, all less than two hours from Australia’s largest city. 

There is little doubt the landscape has changed for the Awabakal people of Lake Macquarie, but it remains a Garden of Eden. A Garden of Eden for the curious mind, the curious of palette and the curious of speed. All souls who appreciate a merging of cultural, adrenaline, and luxury experience. Undoubtedly, we will leave with our bucket list a little lighter. However, there’s always an excuse to return, and for us, maybe that brisket burger did us a favour: I think I already hear Loz’s stomach grumbling.

Mark was a guest of Lake Macquarie Tourism.