Explore pristine lakes, rivers, and beaches on the NSW mid-north coast.
Surrounded by beaches, lakes and rivers, Forster is paradise for water lovers. Drive over the bridge from sister town Tuncurry on a sunny day, and you’ll be welcomed by the turquoise hues of Wallis Lake, which is dotted with deserted islands and sand bars beckoning to be explored. The area is popular for boating, fishing, water-skiing, wakeboarding, kayaking, surfing and stand-up paddleboarding. Swim in secluded coves, ocean baths and rock pools, roll down the sandhill at One Mile Beach, and book a cruise to spot dolphins or whales during their annual migration.
Wander down the main street of Forster perusing its boutiques and surf shops, before grabbing fish and chips for a picnic on the grass by Wallis Lake, followed by an ice-cream. It’s the quintessential Forster experience. Hire a tinnie to explore the lake and frolic around Miles Island at low tide, or book a dolphin, whale watching or charter fishing cruise. Head to the easily accessible Forster Beach (known as Main Beach), or one of the other beautiful beaches nearby. They include One Mile Beach, which has sandhill you can slide down, or the unpatrolled Pebbly Beach. The nearby natural rock formation known as The Tanks is a popular swimming spot for locals and visitors alike. There are plenty of caravan parks and holiday parks to stay in the Great Lakes area.
Just over the bridge, the sister town of Tuncurry has a cinema and a carnival over summer, with rides such as dodgem cars and swinging chairs, arcade games and food trucks.
Drive along the Lakes Way to explore Pacific Palms, one of the best hidden gems to be found on the north coast of New South Wales. Around 15km south of Forster, you’ll find Booti Booti National Park. Set on a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and the lake, it is blessed with beautiful beaches, walking tracks, lookouts, and coastal rainforest. At the northern end of the park, the Cape Hawke lookout offers 360-degree views along the coast from the top of a 8m-high tower, ideal for whale watching. On a clear day you can see as far as Barrington Tops, more than 100km away.
A little further along, Wallingat National Park is a great destination for hiking, mountain biking, horseriding, birdwatching and fishing or swimming in the river and lake. Walk through the tall flooded gum trees to Sugar Creek, where you’ll also find stands of cabbage palms. Whoota Whoota Lookout offers sensational views over the eucalypt forest and the winding, rugged coastline and if you’re lucky you may even spot a sea eagle soaring through the air.
The best time to visit for warm weather and water sports is from October to March, however it can be crowded during the summer school holidays (late December until late January). While it rains there year-round, it tends to get the most rainfall in February, and the least in August. June to October is the best time to spot whales as they pass by on their annual migration.
- Forster is around 3.5 hours’ drive north of Sydney, and makes a great first stop on a road trip north to Byron Bay or Queensland - Busways operates daily coach services from Newcastle to Forster via Hawks Nest, Tea Gardens and Pacific Palms - Forster is part of the Destination Barrington Coast tourist region, which also includes the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Barrington Tops National Park - Stockland Forster, a short drive from the centre of town on The Lakes Way, has two supermarkets and department stores such as Kmart, Target Country and Best & Less - Bushland in the vicinity of Forster was severely impacted by the 2019 bushfires, but is now regenerating in most areas, leading to wildlife returning.