On Friday, Icklegen and I headed to Murrays Beach. It is a top spot tucked away on the Wallarah Peninsula just out of Swansea, perched on the sparkling waters of Lake Macquarie and surrounded by national park. It’s a short windy road off the Pacific Highway to get there but worth every twist and turn of the steering wheel.It is so peaceful, or at least it was on the morning that we chose to visit. For the first hour after our arrival, we only saw a handful of people: three men fishing off the jetty that juts out into the lake and a lady out for her morning walk. Bliss. And yet, this is a residential area and it’s still very much under construction. There are signs up informing you of Land for Sale, and extolling the various key selling points of the development. But, when you are down on the lakeshore, the human aspect seems to blend inconspicuously into the surrounding bushland.
We had brought Icklegen’s little trike with us, so our first stop was the “racetrack” to give it a bit of a spin. Well, it’s not really a racetrack so much as a concrete pedestrian circuit that runs parallel to the lakeshore, before looping back to the main settlement. The surface is smooth, so perfect for everyone, including this mum, her toddler and our little set of wheels. On this occasion, Icklegen opted to ditch the trike for most of the way and walk and run along the circuit, retracing her footsteps several times and giggling as she launched herself across the grass towards the lake. She expended so much energy in her excitement that we soon had to stop for a snack or two so she could recharge her batteries.
Next, we headed to the kiddies playground near the village green. It’s not huge, but the equipment is good quality and well thought-out. There’s a slide complete with runged ladder and fireman’s pole – I found it alarmingly high, but I’m probably being over-protective; Icklegen loved it, and so did her teddy! The two swings cater for all ages; the baby version is like a space-age reclining car seat with multiple straps to keep even the wriggliest child safe. There are wooden beams to run along and clamber up (a bit beyond Icklegen at the moment). And finally an abacus and noughts-and-crosses combination for little hands to move along and and spin around.
We were feeling a bit peckish after all of this, so headed to the Lakehouse Café. The café is what first brought me to Murrays Beach. I love cafés, especially ones that serve decent food, coffee and cake. I found this one on Google as I hunted around for decent places to hang out and chill near our new home. The café is light and airy, with a wrap-around sheltered veranda and fabulous lake views. It may be a bit on the pricey side, but worth a visit for a treat now and again.
Icklegen had her first babycino here one Saturday, and it was presented to us like this. Colourful and fun! And she polished the whole lot off too, marshmallows, sprinkles and all.
Today, we ordered a ham, cheese and tomato croissant from the breakfast menu. It was delicious – the croissant was buttery and flaky on the outside, the cheese melted through and tomato warmed to release its flavour. And it came with a decent side salad of mixed leaves, cherry tomatoes and cucumber. We shared it, although Icklegen possibly got more of the ham than I did.
The coffees alas did not compete with our last visit. The babycino was good, but not a patch on the dotty multicoloured froth Icklegen enjoyed last time; however it did come with a marshmallow on the side. My flat-white was disappointing: it lacked the silky smooth texture and slight sweetness of a really good coffee. And there was no heart or leaf design on top either – a travesty for someone like me who loves the emphasis on coffee art and presentation in Australian cafés.
My coffee aside (and I’m no real expert), we still love this place! It’s a peaceful, safe location, ideal for kids, and the café is an added bonus. You can also walk to the ocean (Caves Beach) from Murrays Beach, along the Wallarah Peninsula track. At two hours one way, Icklegen and I didn’t tackle it this time. We’ll have to look into the logistics and rope in a few extras before we set out on that adventure – watch this spot!
Do you have a favourite café? What makes it special?