A freelance writer living with my family in glorious Newcastle. I love up-cycling, re-cycling and if I'm desperate, bi-cycling.
Published July 31st 2013
An easy drive from Sydney, but miles away for your soul
Pico Iyer, the famous essayist and travel writer once remarked that travel was "a little bit like being in love. Suddenly all your senses are marked 'on.' You are alert to the secret patterns of the world."
Not all of us have such a whimsical approach to holidays, but in Australia, surrounded by such stunning beauty, at times we can become a little blasť about the patterns of the world whispering profoundly around us.
In a recent trip north, I realigned myself with the beauty of creation and had an epiphany of sorts in lovely Smiths Lake. If you need to escape the rat race and find yourself, it is the ideal destination.
Smiths Lake is a small tourist town of just over a thousand people on a peninsula of the Great Lakes and surrounded by a number of waterways including Myall Lakes and Wallis Lake (as well as Smiths Lake). The village itself has not much to it. Many homes are available for holiday accommodation. It has a small supermarket, a real estate agent, bakery, bottleshop and down the bottom of the hill (as most of the village is on the crest of a hill) is the famous Frothy Coffee Boatshed. If you are reasonably healthy though, the walking around here is delightful. There is nothing like a walk along a deserted beach to focus your soul on things that matter.
The calm waters at Smiths Lake make this place a magnet for boating, fishing and water enthusiasts. However if you don't like crowds, it is magnificently quiet and tranquil in Winter. Another bonus during the cooler months is the prices are much cheaper. It's a great opportunity to grab another family and rent a house with a log fire, or go it alone. There are many different house types available for rent including pet friendly, farm stays, waterfront, large or small.
There are a number of camping grounds around Smiths Lakes (although none in Smiths Lakes proper) including The Ruins and Sandbar Holiday Park. Forster is about a 25 minute drive if you are hankering for a cinema, more dining options or perhaps a spot of shopping, but for me the great appeal of Smiths Lake is that it's far enough away from any hustle and bustle to allow for genuine relaxing, but close enough for any city requirements.
If you are more a beach person, like a few more people around or surfing is high on your holiday necessities, nearby (and closer to Forster) is Bluey's Beach or Boomerang Beach. The latter is host to some major surfing competitions and both provide great swimming.
Booti Booti, Wallingat and Myall Lakes National Parks are a short drive away providing beautiful scenery, picnic spots and beaches. Seal Rocks also a car drive away, is famous for its Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse. However the beauty of Smiths Lake is its position, you can be as isolated as you feel each day. Take some games, some movies or just get back to nature and start reawakening to the secret patterns of the world...