Tag Archives: Lake Macquarie

Where Lake Meets Ocean


Lake Macquarie is Australia’s largest coastal salt water lake, covering some 110 square kilometres. It flows out to the Tasman Sea via the Swansea Channel and Lakes Entrance, passing Reids Reserve on its journey. The reserve was named after Captain William Reid, who, way back in 1800, sailed into the entrance to the lake instead of the Hunter River where he was due to collect coal. In fact, for a number of years the lake was known as “Reid’s Mistake”, until it was renamed in honour of Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of NSW.P1020543

Daddy Ickle suggested we plan a visit to the reserve en famille last Sunday. After aiming for a morning get-away, we eventually headed out of the door at around 4 pm. Not bad going! And we took with us all the paraphernalia needed for a toddler and baby. So you pack for a week-long holiday, and then go up the road for a couple of hours.

The reserve occupies a beautiful spot and the weather really showed it in the best light: water glistening in the sunshine, trees providing some welcome shade, and the rocks and sand warm underfoot. The whole just slightly marred by the onslaught of bush flies blown in from their breeding grounds by the hot westerly winds – aargh!P1020538P1020533

The site comprises a generous grassy area, the ubiquitous Aussie outdoor barbecue, picnic tables, an amenities block and a small, very basic playground. But hey, who needs swings and slides when you can rock hop, dodge the waves, spot a giant crab, and play in the sand on the nearby beach? Ickle had a ball, with her daddy alongside her, while Baby Lil and I pottered about. I even managed to bulldoze my way along the sandy track to the beach with her stroller.P1020569

Ah, the sea and sun where the lake meets the ocean. What a pleasant way to spend an hour or so on a Sunday afternoon.

Lakeside Playground

On our little stretch of Lake Macquarie, the waterfront reserve hugs the shoreline for a good couple of kilometres, allowing dog walkers, fishermen, joggers, parents with prams, and anyone else who fancies a stroll, the chance to get off the road and take in some magnificent views.P1010789

The unmarked pathway includes some wonderful shady spots with majestic gum trees towering overhead, access to a strip of sandy beach, and plenty of opportunity for Icklegen to run around in the great outdoors just a stone’s throw from her front door.P1010763P1010785

There are often kookaburras cackling in the trees, giant fish leaping out of the lake and occasionally pelicans foraging for fish at the water’s edge, Natural beauty a-plenty. And also some man-made touches.

In some areas, the lakeshore seems like an informal open-air boat house: tinnies are chained to trees at certain key points and a few catamarans find temporary moorings on the grassy banks. And then, of course, there are plenty of craft on the water, some in better condition than others.P1010752P1010764

And when you take a closer look at some of the trees, there are some surprises in store. Like ropes and beams to climb up. (Icklegen definitely likes the look of this one – yikes!)P1010738P1010746

Or a homemade swing.P1010779

And then quiet spots to rest for a while.P1010758

Or play on.P1010757

A playground with a difference.

Carols by the Lake

‘Tis the season for carols. Not a weekend in December goes by without the possibility of attending an open-air carol concert. It’s a great Aussie tradition generally comprising performances of Christmas songs old and new, a sausage sizzle, soft-serve cones, Santa’s arrival on a fire truck to distribute lollies (sweets) to the littlies and – if you’re lucky – some fireworks to round off the evening. But all events pale in comparison with the BIG ONE, Carols by Candlelight*, which has been held in Melbourne every year since 1938, and is now televised live on Christmas Eve. In this glitzy festive extravaganza, international stars, home-grown celebs, and kiddies’ favourites take to the stage to entertain the masses.1-P1010295

Icklegen and I are not quite ready for activity on this scale, so we opted to stay local and popped along to Gwandalan to see what Carols by the Lake had to offer. This was definitely not a mass-marketed media event: there were a couple of banners on display and a small entry in the free monthly courier we get delivered, and that was about it. And why not keep it that way? A happy, friendly gathering of people you recognise from the next street, playgroup, the local shops…let me tell you, it was lovely. And what a backdrop too, with the waters of Lake Macquarie glistening in the late afternoon sunshine.3-P1010288

The weather was a balmy 25 degrees as we arrived, lured by the enticing smell of sausages and bacon sizzling on the barbie. All a far cry from carol singing when I was a lass, where we would rug up in our winter woollies and walk around in the inky dark, gloved hands stuffed in our pockets, singing our hearts out in the chill night air, and hoping we’d be invited into a warm house for a mince pie and glass of mulled wine.4-P10102916-P1010294

There was a variety of performances, including a local choir from Tuggerah, a small band, and a couple of soloists. But it’s about so much more than the music; these outdoor events provide a wonderful occasion for family and friends to sit down, relax and chat, and perhaps indulge in a sausage sandwich or soft-serve dipped in sprinkles (or Milo – now that’s a new one for me!)1-P1010285

Icklegen had other ideas though; she quickly tired of the picnic rug and set off to explore her new and exciting surroundings. Quite a crowd had gathered by this point, and some of her little friends had arrived too, which made it all the more fun. She charged around, looking at everything and even tried to burst onto the stage (perhaps she’s an artiste in the making unlike her stage-shy mummy!) My favourite part of the evening, though, was of her and another friend dancing with two older girls right at the front, spinning around and around, and loving every minute.

We didn’t manage to stay until Santa’s grand entrance, alas, although Icklegen is none the wiser. It’ll make it doubly special for her next year when our little part of Lake Macquarie rocks again.

*To be fair, Sydney’s ‘Carols in the Domain’ has the larger attendance. At 31 years young, it is a mere whipper snapper alongside its Melbourne rival, but definitely an institution in its own right.