Exploring Lake Mac's secret swim spots with Places We Swim
Caroline and Dillon from Places We Swim document swim spots around Australia through guidebooks and prints. Follow their adventures @placesweswim.
We’ve spent a lot of time travelling up the coast from Sydney to the Central Coast and Newcastle. This coastline is awash with swims of all kinds, none more abundant than in Lake Macquarie. As the largest coastal saltwater lake in the Southern Hemisphere (more than twice the size of Sydney Harbour!), this aquatic playground has plenty of secret bays to explore. But it’s not just the lake that this region has to offer for water-loving people (like us). There are remote beaches, sea caves, drift lagoons, sand islands, rockpools and forest landscapes. Life by the lake is bountiful and rich, and is an important part of the identity of the area. It is a natural access point to exploring the culture, the land and the people of Lake Mac. We spent a few days here recently and discovered a few local gems...
1. Ghosties Beach
Ghosties Beach is located in Munmorah State Conservation Area, just south of Catherine Hill Bay. Access to Ghosties is on foot via the Moonee Beach Trail, which takes you down to the sandy shoreline of Moonee Beach. Here you can spend the day swimming and snorkeling around the turquoise waters, or relaxing in the protected rockpools as colourful paragliders fly overhead (there are lots of incredible takeoff points nearby for those who like to take to the sky). At the southern end of Moonee, around Flat Rock Point, is Ghosties Beach; a large ocean cove with a sandstone sea cave that you can walk through at low tide only. Make sure to check the tides times before you go. The beauty of these unpatrolled beaches is a private, isolated feeling you don’t get closer to the big cities.
PWS tip: BYO shade (there’s not much here) and beach snacks or a picnic so you can stay here a while.
Around the fringes of Lake Mac are lots of protected bays for swimming, paddle boarding, boating, kayaking, and even spearfishing. Naru is especially picturesque. Take a dirt road through bushy forest surrounds to a pristine lagoon beach with views out across to the lake's sand islands. It’s possible to paddle over in the right conditions, as a current runs in and out through the breakwall here. We brought an inflatable watermelon and took it for a float. Others bring kayaks and a group of nippers arrived after school for some training on paddle boards. There was even a few spearfisherman trying to catch their dinner. Sunset here is quite magical.
PWS tip: A short drive from Naru Beach in Belmont is Common Circus, a beautiful lifestyle store and cafe. Stop in for a cold drink and an icy pole and browse their selection of sustainable homewares. Just opposite is a netted section of the lake - Belmont Baths - with picnic tables and showers. It’s a very family friendly spot.
3. Dudley Beach
As you creep north up the coast you’ll come to the oceanside suburb of Dudley. Dudley Beach is popular surf spot with a protected bay and series of rockpools and blowholes along a reefy platform at the south. Park up in a shaded spot on Dudley Beach Road and walk 500m down a bush track to the beach. There's also a dedicated carpark towards the northern end. At low tide the reef will create some warm shallow pools to dip into. As you bend further around the corner you’ll likely see fisherman throwing lines in over the rocky edge near the deeper pools, and wilder water. Always be very careful on these rock shelves. Check conditions and bring a friend to explore with.
PWS tip: After your day at the beach, stop into The Royal Crown pub for a beer in the sunny courtyard. If you’re looking for lunch, a block up the hill is Folium Cafe, serving an inventive vegan menu.