Lake Macquarie (New South Wales)

lake in Australia

Lake Macquarie or Awaba,[1] is the largest coastal salt water lake in Australia. It covers an area of 110 square kilometres (42.5 sq mi). It is on the coast of New South Wales, north of Sydney. The city of lake Macquarie is on the shores of the lake. Lake Macquarie is connected to the sea by a short channel.

Lake Macquarie
Lake Macquarie (Swansea - Pulbah).jpg
View from Swansea showing Pulbah Island
LocationHunter Region, New South Wales
Coordinates33°05′S 151°35′E / 33.083°S 151.583°E / -33.083; 151.583Coordinates: 33°05′S 151°35′E / 33.083°S 151.583°E / -33.083; 151.583
Typebarrier estuary[2]
Primary inflowsCockle Creek, Dora Creek
Primary outflowsTasman Sea
Catchment area604.4 km2 (233.4 sq mi)
Basin countriesAustralia
Max. length24 km (14.9 mi)
Max. width7.9 km (4.9 mi)
Surface area110 km2 (42.5 sq mi)
Average depth8 m (26 ft)
Max. depth15 m (49 ft)
Shore length1174 km (108.1 mi)
Surface elevation0 AHD
IslandsPulbah Island plus several small islands
SettlementsCity of Lake Macquarie
WebsiteNSW Environment & Heritage
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.


Aborigines of the Awabakal nation lived in the area for thousands of years. The name Awaba, means "a plain surface".[1]

The first European to visit the lake was Captain William Reid in 1800. Reid had been sent from Sydney to get a load of coal from Newcastle Harbour. Reid took a wrong turn and found himself in a lake rather than a river, with no coal to be seen anywhere. The name "Reid's Mistake" was used until 1826, when it was renamed in honour of Governor Lachlan Macquarie.[3]

Geography and environmentEdit

The lake is an irregular shape. The land between the lake and the sea is only a few kilometres wide along most of its length. There are several small, sandy, low-level islands in the lake. Pulbah Island, located south of Swansea is a large island with rocky cliffs. It covers an area of 68 hectares (168 acres).[4][5] Pulbah is an Aboriginal name meaning island.[6] Pulbah Island is also a sacred site for the Awabakal people.[7]

Lake Macquarie is connected to the sea by Swansea Channel and Lakes Entrance. Swansea Channel is about 380 metres (1,247 ft) wide and 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) long. The bridges over the channel can lift to allow yachts and other boats in and out of the lake.

Important Bird AreaEdit

The eucalypt forests on the southern edge of the lake have been listed by BirdLife International as a 121 km2 Important Bird Area (IBA). They support significant numbers of endangered Swift Parrots and Regent Honeyeaters.[8] Masked Owls and Ospreys often nest in the area.[9]

Environmental managementEdit

In 1983 the State Pollution Control Commission studied the poor water quality of Lake Macquarie. It found increased amounts of sediment and increased levels of nutrients were causing problems. Further studies in 1995 found that creeks flowing into the lake were causing many of these problems.[10] In 1998 a special group was set up by the government to find ways to protect the lake. This group recommended setting up the Lake Macquarie Project Management Committee.[11] Their job was to put in place an action plan to protect the lake called the Lake Macquarie Improvement Plan.

These actions have included reducing the amount of sediment and nutrients getting into the lake. They have built wetlands, stormwater treatments, replanting, and educating the local community.[12]

There are more fish in the lake because commercial fishing has been stopped in the lake and the water quality is improving.

Photo showing Northern side of Pulbah Island


Fishing, boating, kayaking and water skiing are all popular activities on the lake.

Lake Macquarie at Toronto


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Awaba Lake". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW. Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. Retrieved 19 June 2008.
  2. Roy, P. S; Williams, R. J; Jones, A. R; Yassini, I; et al. (2001). "Structure and Function of South-east Australian Estuaries". Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 53: 351–384.
  3. "Lake Macquarie". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW. Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. Retrieved 19 June 2008.
  4. "Pulbah Island Nature Reserve". Department of Environment and Climate Change. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
  5. "Pulbah Island". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW. Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
  6. "History of Pulbah Island". Lake Macquarie City Council. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
  7. "Pulbah Island". Environment & Heritage NSW. Retrieved 4 May 201. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  8. "IBA: Lake Macquarie". Birdata. Birds Australia. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
  9. "Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lake Macquarie". BirdLife International. 29 July 2011.
  10. Australian Water and Coastal Studies Pty Ltd (November 1995). "Lake Macquarie Estuary Process Study" (PDF). Lake Macquarie City Council. Retrieved 19 June 2008.
  11. "Lake Macquarie Integrated Estuary and Catchment Management Framework" (PDF). The Office of the Lake Macquarie & Catchment Coordinator. Retrieved 19 June 2008.
  12. Shields, Nick. "Living Lake Macquarie" (PDF). The Office of the Lake Macquarie & Catchment Coordinator. Retrieved 19 June 2008.

Other websitesEdit