When it comes to Lake Macquarie you might say I’m a little biased. You see, my pioneering ancestors have been living in the area since 1841. But regardless of the family connections Lake Macquarie, one of the largest lakes in the Southern Hemisphere and an aquatic playground that’s just perfect for a young family like ours.
Surrounded as it is by inviting and cosy holiday towns, there really is plenty to see and explore. From surfing at one of the fantastic beaches to trekking through rainforest in the surrounding mountains, there so much to keep families busy – on and off the lake.
A family weekend spent lakeside holds enormous appeal, so we’ve packed the car and our excited kids, Rafferty (6) and Marlo (3) for the ninety minute drive north to Swansea and our digs for the night, Swansea Gardens Holiday Park. The place is bursting with families and we’ve barely unpacked the car and had time to check out our cabin before the kids are playing in the gently lapping waters of its placid lakeside beach where we happily while away our afternoon until small bellies start to rumble.
We take the scenic drive around the lovely lake to Toronto for dinner with a view at Sesames Restaurant, a sensational award-winning Asian fusion restaurant that, according to my six-year old son, is “mind-blowing”. From the Cambodian style spring rolls stuffed with pork and noodles and the salt and pepper soft shell mud crab to the Peking style duck pancakes and the chef’s signature dish, a whole deep fried salt and pepper snapper served with delectable Asian vegies and crispy noodles, it is an incredible meal that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
In fact so good was it that Rafferty wakes up talking about it! But not for long. 18 holes is the first thing on our breakfast menu. My kids love mini-golf and the 18-hole course at Swansea Gardens Holiday Park is a winner… as is the great playground next to it. The resort also has tennis courts and an enormous and extremely inviting swimming pool but there’s lots of lake to explore so we set off for a drive around the lake.
We stop to check out the gorgeous black swans at Swansea and enjoy a coffee break at Belmont, where we sit back and watch the dozens of little sailing boats bobbing on the water at the sailing club. Lake Macquarie is so tranquil and laid back it has an almost ameliorating effect on our family. This is how holidays should be.
It’s more than pleasant meandering around the lake and are happy to find ourselves back in Toronto. This time we take our time to browse through the funky boutiques and stop for lunch at Bellunos Café where the kids nail their burgers and iced chocolates and I take on a giant juicy schnitzel.
We walk lunch off along the waterside promenade and the kids terrorise some poor unsuspecting seagulls before heading to Mercure Lake Macquarie Rafferty’s Resort. My own Rafferty is rather excited. I mean, obviously they named the place after him.
The resort has four swimming pools, tennis courts and lakeside beach games to keep the kids amused, along with several children’s playgrounds and a kids club for children aged four to 12 which is open on weekends and during school holidays. Mum and dad needn’t feel left out either – parental pampering is on offer at the resort’s indulgent day spa. And the accommodation itself is excellent. Our two-level three-bedroom cottage offered a comfortable and private home away from home with a large living area.
The kids are eager to hit the water so we head to Rafferty’s private beach where Marlo and I play in the shallow water and chat with the pelicans while Rafferty and his dad take to the lake in a kayak from Jetboat buzz. When I ask my son afterwards how he’s enjoying his holiday he answers with a grin, “so far so fun”.
After washing the sand and salt away we head to Salina at Belmont to fill up on luscious prawn, pepperoni and fetta pizza, risotto with mahi mahi and dessert that was so “super duper delicious” that Rafferty drank the leftover sauce. It’s yet another superb meal. With their bellies full and exhausted from their afternoon of activity on the lake, the kids both crash in the car on the short drive back to Rafferty’s… no doubt dreaming of what lovely Lake Macquarie has in store tomorrow.