Lake Macquarie is twice the size of Sydney Harbour, and the biggest permanent salt water lake in the Southern Hemisphere, but it is still largely underrated and underappreciated. 

The lake itself covers roughly 110 square kilometres, and is actually technically a lagoon due to the fact that it is connected to the Tasman Sea by a small channel. 

You’ll find this stunning natural attraction roughly 90 minutes north of Sydney, making for a perfect first stop on the Sydney to Brisbane coastal drive, or simply making for an idyllic day trip or weekend away with a Sydney car rental

Here’s why you won’t regret making the stop.

Things to do at Lake Macquarie

Lake Macquarie is brimming with things to do, both on and off the water. 

On the water, you would need several days just to try all the activities available to you. 

Naturally, you could simply spend your time relaxing on the beach or swimming. Hiring a kayak is a top activity, as this lets you spend time exploring the many beaches and coves around the lake. You can also hire or charter a full-sized yacht, and spend a few hours out on the serene water for a truly relaxing afternoon. 

Plus, you can’t miss Caves Beach, which – as the name suggests – is dotted with fascinating caves that you can access from the beach itself. As well as this spot, Blacksmith Beach and Catherine Hill Bay are two of the other best beaches in the area.

Off the water, Lake Macquarie is surrounded by roughly 90 villages, each offering their own charm and attractions.

Get a taste of history by visiting the multiple WWII attractions on the lakeside hamlet of Rathmines, like Rathmines Park which was home to the largest seaplane base in the Southern Hemisphere. Visit Warners Bay and rent a bike to follow the beautiful 9-kilometre track along the shorefront, then treat yourself to a hearty lunch at The Lakehouse Cafe near Caves Beach. Stop by Dobell House to explore the former home of Australia’s famous artist Sir William Dobell and learn more about his colourful life, and don’t miss the chance to try one of the famous gigantic meals at popular Q&Co.

Only a few kilometres north from Lake Macquarie, you’ll discover NRMA’s Stockton Beach Holiday Park. This park is the perfect base to admire Newcastle’s breathtaking beaches, rich history and relaxed lifestyle. With beachfront sites and accommodation just a short ferry ride to the city, it’s the perfect place for a family beach getaway! Did you know NRMA Members save 15% off all vehicles with Thrifty? Simply enter your membership number when booking to save.

Getting to Lake Macquarie 

Lake Macquarie is easy to get to with a car rental in NSW

If you’re starting out in Sydney, simply take the M2 out of the city to join the M1 and head north for roughly 130 kilometres. Note that this route does have toll roads, but it is by far the quickest and easiest way to get to the lake. 

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For those driving south from Brisbane, this is a much longer drive at just under 9 hours, so it will probably be best to make an overnight stop at one of the many gorgeous seaside towns along the way. Woolgoolga is roughly at the half-way point, and is a good spot to stretch your legs with a walk along the headland before driving the rest of the way. 

Ready to make the trip? Book your NSW rental car with Thrifty, and don’t forget to visit our travel blog for more ideas for what to do on the way there, and for driving tips and advice.