Whether you’re looking for something to do as a local or you’re visiting with your family, there are lots of fun things to do in Lake Macquarie, New South Wales with kids.
Located 30 minutes south of Newcastle, the Lake Mac region is centred around Lake Macquarie, the largest coastal saltwater lake in Australia. With this natural backdrop, there are lots of fun outdoor (and a few indoor) activities to enjoy with your family. Here are some of our best picks for family-friendly activities, many of which are free and low-cost.
Museum of Art and Culture (MAC)
Formerly the Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, the Museum of Art and Culture (MAC) has been renovated and renamed. Located lakeside at Booragul, it features free admission. MAC is filled with interesting art and cultural programs as well as a yapang, a dedicated Aboriginal program and space. Exhibitions change frequently with a main focus on contemporary art and Aboriginal projects. MAC is an ideal place for families. Visit on a Sunday morning and you can enjoy Art Space. Young children and their families can enjoy free simple art activities guided by friendly gallery staff. There is also the outdoor sculpture park which is home to work by local and national artists over an area of 5 hectares. Families can pick up a free Sculpture Park Discovery Trail at Visitor Service Desk and wander through the sculptures.
For more art, walk along the foreshore at Warners Bay. You’ll see a selection of sculptures dotting the lake. These artworks are just a few of the sculptures and murals which make up an art trail ranging from Belmont to Toronto. Get up close to the sculptures and appreciate the craftsmanship. The sculptures are created by nationally and internationally renowned artists. Among others, the works include a flying pig, an oversized Buddhist monk-child and a mauve bust of Charles Darwin
Redhead Beach is a beach that the whole family will enjoy. If parents are surfers, they’ll love the surfing breaks. Kids will enjoy splashing in the beachside creek and rock pools. Redhead Beach is home to Redhead Surf Lifesaving Club and the famous Shark Tower. While you’re here, stop by Webb Park playground and go a stroll along Ken and Audrey Owens Walk
Of all the Lake Macquarie beaches, Blacksmiths Beach is considered the most family-friendly. Located at the southern end of a long stretch of coastline, Blacksmiths Beach is an east-facing patrolled beach. Due to the breakwall, it enjoys calmer conditions than neighbouring beaches. Blacksmiths Beach is home to the Swansea Belmont Surf Lifesaving Club.
A popular spot near Swansea in Lake Macquarie, Caves Beach features a network of sea caves accessible during low tide. Families can combine a visit to the beach with exploring the sea caves and rock pools. There’s a variety of different sized caves to explore, some of them with narrow openings to crawl through as well as tidal pools to explore outside the caves. You’ll need to check the tide tables first as you can only visit the sea caves during low tide. In addition to the caves, there is lots to do at Caves Beach including swimming, surfing and sunbaking. Go for a swim at the main patrolled beach or splash around in shallow rock pools near the caves. Caves Beach is home to the Caves Beach Surf Life Saving Club.
If you feel like swimming in Lake Macquarie, go for a dip in Belmont Baths. It’s a top spot to cool off in salt-water Lake Macquarie. The swimming enclosure consists of a netted swimming area 70m long and 45m wide along with a 70 metre jetty that’s fun to jump off. There’s plenty of room for everyone including those with inflatables.
Eleebana to Speers Point Walk
To really appreciate Lake Macquarie, take a walk around it. The walk actually runs from Croudace Bay / Eleebana to Booragul. It’s a flat, easy walk that the whole family will enjoy. Along the way you’ll see sculptures, Red Bluff Boardwalk, a 380 metre-long elevated boardwalk over the lake and cafes, restaurants and a fully fenced playground, Warner Park. Continuing on, you’ll make your way north along the lake until you approach Speers Point. There you’ll find the massive Variety Speers Point Playground and the Speers Point Swim Centre. If you want to stop and return at this point, you can or continue along to Booragul. There you’ll find the waterfront Museum of Art and Culture (MAC)
Grannies’ Pool at Blacksmiths is one of Lake Macquarie’s most popular sheltered swimming spots. Accessible via Blacksmiths Beach, Grannie’s Pool is a tidal pool that faces the Swansea Channel. A level pathway and platform provides access to all users, including strollers and wheelchairs. Grannies’ Pool recommended for kids under 5.
Winding its way through idyllic bush and wetland, the 15.9 kilometre Fernleigh Track is perfect for families to spend a sunny day enjoying fresh air on a bike, scooter or walking four-legged friends. A former rail line, the Fernleigh Track spans from Adamstown to Belmont and is a popular walking and cycling path. It’s the main shared pathway that connects Newcastle to Lake Macquarie. Until 1991 the track was the Belmont rail line, which was used to transport coal and passengers between the suburbs. This means that there are lots of industrial heritage features to spot along the way, including sleepers, bridges, tunnels, signal boxes and stations. The track is well maintained, with gentle slopes and wide pathways, so it’s ideal for all fitness levels.
Take your family on the 5-kilometre Awabakal Walk. It features spectacular views & adventuresome trails in the Awabakal Nature Reserve between Dudley and Redhead. Even though it borders residential neighbourhoods, walking through this reserve makes you feel like you’re far from civilisation. There’s all of kinds of trees, vegetation and birdlife to enjoy as well as spectacular coastal views along the way. You can take a side track and it will lead you to Redhead Lagoon. If you like wildflowers, do the walk between July and October as there’s beautiful in-season flowers.
Ken and Audrey Owens Walk
If you’re looking for a flat, family-friendly coastal stroll, head down to Redhead in the Lake Macquarie area to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the 2.5 kilometre Ken and Audrey Owens walk. The walk includes a network of paths alongside Redhead Beach, through coastal vegetation and wetlands. There’s lots to look at here – keep an eye out for birds, lizards and of course beautiful ocean views. There is so much space to play and run around here, and there are stunning views north to the headland, and south along Nine Mile Beach.
Belmont Wetlands State Park
Belmont Wetlands State Park offers short, family-friendly walks through beautiful coastal bushland and wetlands. It’s a fascinating walk as a bushfire destroyed one of the walking tracks in August 2019. Now reopen for visitors, it offers an insight into the way our resilient Australian bush recovers and regenerates after a bushfire. There are many walking trails through the Belmont Wetlands State Park but for younger kids, we recommend the This article focuses on two of the short walks which are suitable for younger children – the Wildflower Walk, and the Gilbey Loop Walk which start from Redhead.
If you feel like getting up high in Lake Macquarie, drive up to Mount Sugarloaf. At 412 metres high, Mount Sugarloaf is one of the highest points around the region. Snow actually fell at Mount Sugarloaf on July 18, 1965, according to a plaque at the site.
Once you drive up to the site, you will then have to walk up to the top. It’s a short but steep 10-minute walk up the path to reach the summit. From the top, you’ll see views of Lake Macquarie, Newcastle, and the surrounding Hunter areas. You can even see the Stockton sands. Mount Sugarloaf is a popular spot for families to visit with picnic, BBQs and toilet facilities and plenty of parking available. There’s also other walks around the area that you can do.
Speers Point Variety Playground
When it comes to playgrounds, the massive Speers Point Variety Playground in Speers Point Park comes out tops. It’s a dream playground for local families and visitors as there is something for children of all ages. This two-hectare, fully fenced park sits on the shore of Lake Macquarie enabling you to enjoy family fun with scenic views and lake breezes. The park features extensive play equipment including a giant 12-metre climbing tower which leads to a 9-metre spiral slide. There are swings and slides galore as well as a double flying fox and a spider web net. If the temperature starts to rise, let them cool off in the water play area. (Just be sure to bring a change of clothes).
Built in part with funding and support from Variety, the Children’s Charity, the park is designed to accommodate special needs including a wheelchair accessible play boat, tactile orientation totem poles for people with visual impairments and a quiet zone retreat specifically designed to allow children to enjoy playing in a more passive environment.
Take your kids to Warner Park on Warners Bay Foreshore! This fully-fenced playground includes slides, climbing structure and nets. There’s loads of swings including a double swing which incorporates a baby and regular swing facing each other and the popular group swing. It also has lake views and is conveniently located next to coffee shops and cafes of Warners Bay Foreshore.
At Webb Park, a beach-themed playground in Redhead, older kids can climb up and slide down a wave shaped climbing equipment as well as slide along a flying fox flanked with giant surfboards. There’s a BBQ nearby the playground so you can cook up some lunch or dinner while keeping an eye on kids. Also, plenty of grass for kids to run around or kick a ball. This beautiful leafy playground is great for a play before or after a visit to Redhead Beach.
Visit Rathmines Park, a plane-themed playground located on Lake Macquarie. This park is a very important historical site as it was the home to the RAAF Catalina Flying Boat Base with 14 Catalinas and almost 3000 officers. At its peakm it was the largest flying boat base in Australia. As a result, there’s lots of plane themed play equipment. There’s also 4 signs around the perimeter of the park that indicate the actual size of the Catalina flying boat. It was huge! Every year in November, there is a commemoration of this WWII RAAF Base in Rathmines Park. The Rathmines Catalina Festival is a family-friendly event which includes aviation displays, entertainment, amusement rides and markets.
If you have young train lovers in your family, Edgeworth Trains is a must-do. It’s a Newcastle institution that both kids and adults will love. On the last Sunday of every month (except for December), the Lake Macquarie Live Steam Locomotive Society provides model train rides to the public. There’s a variety of miniature trains such as steam and diesel and different rail routes (both elevated and ground-level) so you can easily spend a couple of hours watching and riding trains.
If you’re looking for a panoramic view of the north end of Lake Macquarie and surrounding suburbs, then the challenge of Munibung Hill may be something for you and your family. The hill rises approximately 160 metres above the surrounding countryside and at the top, you’re rewarded with panoramic views of the lake and the northern suburbs of Lake Macquarie. It’s the perfect way to burn off the excess energy of kids as well as see great views.
Catherine Hill Bay
For a reminder of the region’s past, visit the historic mining village of Catherine Hill Bay located south of Swansea. This heritage-listed village is popular with swimmers, surfers and fishermen. A striking feature of Catherine Hill Bay is the former coal-loading jetty and appears in a lot of iconic photos of the area. The historic jetty and mining cottages reveal the significance of mining to Catherine Hill Bay and remind visitors that it’s the oldest continuous settlement in the City of Lake Macquarie. If you’re looking for a peaceful sleepy seaside town, Catherine Hill Bay fits the bill. It’s a quiet spot with a beautiful beach that’s patrolled by the Catherine Hill Bay Surf Life Saving Club.
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Started in late 2012 by a local mum, Newy with Kids has grown into a thriving go-to family guide for the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & Hunter region. Parents visit the Newy with Kids website to find things to do with babies, kids and teens. Whether it’s local attractions, upcoming events, kids eat free, school holiday activities or birthday party ideas, Newy with Kids is the best website for local parents to find local kid-friendly activities and information 24/7.