Beaches, bikes and bush­walks

Just coast along with the lo­cals

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - DESTINATION AUSTRALIA - JEN­NIFER ENNION

side club is an­other lo­cal hang­out and is home to The Ter­race. An a la carte menu fea­tures dishes such as a blue swim­mer crab and chorizo paella, and slow-braised lamb shoul­der from the Hunter Val­ley. If you’re a craft beer fan, you’ll be happy to hear there are 16 on tap here, from the fa­mil­iar (Lit­tle Crea­tures) to the not so known (Brewcult). More:; the­boat­shed­

T THE DOBELL CON­NEC­TION: One of the re­gion’s most no­table res­i­dents was the both cher­ished and con­tro­ver­sial artist Wil­liam Dobell. Al­though the Archibald Prize win­ner hailed from New­cas­tle, he spent close to 30 years (1942-1970) at his home­s­tu­dio in Wangi Wangi. The lake­front prop­erty, now known as Dobell House, was re­cently listed un­der the NSW Her­itage Act, thanks to the ded­i­cated ef­forts by the vol­un­teer-run Sir Wil­liam Dobell Me­mo­rial Com­mit­tee. Al­though there are no orig­i­nal art pieces on dis­play (not of fi­nan­cial value, at least), there is fur­ni­ture, pho­tos, mem­o­ra­bilia and other pos­ses­sions of the artist. Open 1pm-4pm. More: do­bell­

A ART WORKS: The so­phis­ti­cated Lake Mac­quarie City Art Gallery at Boor­agul of­fers this vis­i­tor a wel­come respite from warm au­tumn tem­per­a­tures and a fas­ci­nat­ing look at some of the coun­try’s most no­table artists. Re­cently, a gi­ant in­flat­able rab­bit, enor­mous “breath­ing” pil­lows and tempt­ing-to-touch bal­loons in­trigued vis­i­tors to the Soft Core ex­hi­bi­tion. The cur­rent ex­hi­bi­tion, to April 30, is all about con­tem­po­rary Aus­tralian artist Fiona Hall and is the lat­est in an an­nual se­ries of case stud­ies. After your visit, wan­der the sculp­ture park and then en­joy the lake views from on-site Awaba House Restau­rant Cafe as you in­dulge in morn­ing tea. Also take home a piece of Lake Mac­quarie in the form of a stylish art gallery sou­venir made from Hunter and Cen­tral Coast cre­atives. The gallery has a small gift shop where you can buy gor­geous pot­tery, hand­made jew­ellery and unique trin­kets crafted from sil­ver cut­lery, as well as the city’s own fruity Lake Mac Tea blend. More: art­; awaba­

HOME AND HEART: Home­wares ad­dicts should call into Bel­mont’s Com­mon Cir­cus, billed as “a l lifestyle store”. It’s such a hid­den gem that some lo­cals don’t even know about it. Here you can browse beau­ti­ful bed linen and al­paca blan­kets, leather stools, soy can­dles, hand­painted wall tiles and other fine prod- ucts while you wait for your cold-pressed juice; open seven days. More: com­mon­cir­

PEDAL POWER: There are mul­ti­ple cy­cling tracks through­out Lake Mac­quarie, thanks to coun­cil in­vest­ment in a net­work of shared path­ways. If you’re after a thigh-burner, tackle the 18km Red Bluff Board­walk track, from Bel­mont to Boor­agul. This is a good one for a full day, al­low­ing plenty of time to stop into Warn­ers Bay cafes and shops, and the art gallery. For a 30-minute post-lunch pedal, stick to the paved path that skirts the lake at Warn­ers Bay and trav­els past fore­shore parks and play­grounds. You can pick up a bike from the au­to­mated hire rack op­po­site the shops on The Es­planade. More: boomerang­

NATUREN CALLS: If you re­ally feel like get­ting away from civil­i­sa­tion, point the car to­ward Wata­gans Na­tional Park. It’s a great week­end des­ti­na­tion for horse rid­ers, rock climbers, off-road driv­ers and campers. Avid bush­walk­ers are also drawn here, with a large choice of trails, in­clud­ing a chal­leng­ing 10km (one-way) sec­tion of the state’s Great North Walk. In Ol­ney State For­est (bor­dered by Wata­gans Na­tional Park) is one of the re­gion’s most beau­ti­ful lo­ca­tions, The Pines Pic­nic Area. Not only will pho­tog­ra­phers love cap­tur­ing the soar­ing nee­dle-like trees but it’s a great spot to en­joy a packed lunch with fam­ily. More: na­tion­al­; forestrycor­po­ra­ PRIME PO­SI­TION: Bedrag­gled surfers pa­rade across the tim­ber walk­ways, as brides-to-be plot out im­pend­ing cer­e­monies at Caves Beach­side Ho­tel, in the sub­urb of Caves Beach. A short stroll from the sand, this ho­tel is one of the finest in Lake Mac­quarie. There is a mix of ac­com­mo­da­tion, with adults-only stu­dio rooms perched on the edge of a duck-happy pond (they may wake you up), as well as two-storey, free­stand­ing fam­ily vil­las not far be­hind. The staff is very re­laxed here, so ex­pect to fend for your­self a bit, and Wi-Fi is vir­tu­ally non-ex­is­tent (as is phone re­cep­tion), but gue­strooms are com­fort­able and you re­ally can’t beat the lo­ca­tion. Watch the sun set over the sea from your villa bal­cony or en­joy the day’s last rays from the pool. More: caves­beach­side­ho­

Jen­nifer Ennion was a guest of Lake Mac­quarie Tourism. • vis­it­

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