Weekend escape from Sydney

Escape for a car-free weekend on the lake

While Lake Macquarie – and its dazzling surf beaches, coastal nature reserves and thriving lakeside arts precinct – is an easy 90-minute drive from Sydney, it’s also on a major train line between the New South Wales capital and Newcastle. Here’s how you can leave your car at home and instead catch a train to explore some of the highlights of this vast saltwater lake and surrounds on a relaxing weekend getaway.

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Cycle or scoot around the Lake Arts Precinct

Soak up some sun, breathe in the bracing salt air and get your culture fix at the same time in Lake Macquarie’s Lake Arts Precinct, which stretches from Booragul to Warners Bay on the northwestern reaches of the lake. Be mesmerised by the contrast of white sails on deep blue water as you stroll between intriguing artworks on the Creative Lake Sculpture Trail on the Warners Bay Foreshore as you make your way to the striking cube of the Multi-Arts Pavilion, mima in Speers Point. Refresh with a coffee at the venue’s Harry & Lola’s cafe before crossing the bridge to immerse in the contemporary art on display at the Museum of Arts and Culture yapang and sculpture park in Booragul.

There’s plenty of parking near both arts venues, but you can also come up from Sydney by train for a memorable trip. Take a Central Coast & Newcastle Line train from Central Station to Booragul Station for the short walk to the Museum of Arts and Culture yapang and the on-site Three Bears Cafe.

Bring your bikes on the train, or hire an e-bike or e-scooter from micromobility operator Beam, and follow the shared cycling and pedestrian pathway from Booragul to Speers Point and the dining hub of Warners Bay. Or head down to the wharf in front of Museum of Arts and Culture yapang and board the Lady Mac for a Loop the Lake or Lunch on the Lake cruise with Lake Macquarie Cruises.

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Follow a rail trail to your lakeside stay

Step (or pedal or scoot) back in time as you cycle the 15-kilometre-long Fernleigh Track, a shared pathway tracing a former railway line from the Newcastle suburb of Adamstown south to the lakeside sailing hub of Belmont.

There are more than a dozen entry points to the track, with plenty of car parks where you can unload your bikes and get pedalling. Alternatively, take a Central Coast & Newcastle Line train from Sydney to Adamstown Station and for the pleasant hike or smooth ride along the sealed track, which passes through the historic 181-metre-long Fernleigh rail tunnel under the Pacific Highway and the Glenrock State Conservation Area coastal reserve, tracking inland past Redhead Beach and Nine Mile Beach and through Belmont Wetlands State Park.

Linger on the lake with a stay in a cabin or villa at Belmont Lakeside Holiday Park in Belmont, dining at waterfront restaurants and cafés and exploring the lakefront shared pathways to the north. If you’ve brought your mountain bikes, thrill to the challenges of the extensive network of mountain biking trails through the Glenrock State Conservation Area on your return journey to Sydney.


If you’re on foot, jump on a Route 14 bus to take a dip in the surf and check out the incredible sea caves at Caves Beach, south of Belmont. You can also follow the five-kilometre Coastal walking track from Caves Beach to Pinny Beach in Wallarah National Park. Then simply hop back on the Route 14 bus to return to Sydney via Adamstown Station.

Alternatively, combine a lake cruise with a bushwalk on CoastXP’s custom-built adventure boat – hop off the Route 14 bus at the intersection of Pacific Highway and Soldiers Road for the 15-minute walk to the wharf at Pelican, south of Belmont, to board your cruise.

Or splash out and book an aerial adventure with one of the operators at Lake Macquarie Airport, on the Pacific Highway a short walk from the Route 14 bus stop at Soldiers Road. Take to the skies on a scenic helicopter ride with Skyline Aviation, step out into the unknown on a tandem sky-dive with Skydive Australia, defy gravity during an aerobatic flight with Matt Hall Racing, or try an introductory flight in a gyroplane or a microlight aircraft with Airborne Flight Training.

Even if you don’t leave the ground during your car-free stay in Lake Macquarie, your head will still be spinning at the possibilities this aquatic playground has to offer!

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Lake Macquarie is a vibrant city with unique events happening all year round. From art, culture and live music to food and adventure, there's something for everyone! 

Check out what's on in Lake Mac this month here.

Visitors looking at the new MAP mima exhibition 1

For more ideas on what to do in Lake Macquarie, Check out our maps and guides here.

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