Tracks & Trails

Tuggerah Lake
Tracks & Trails | lake | urbanwalking | Walking | Central Coast | New South Wales

Tuggerah Lake

Picnics, playgrounds and pelicans

by Susie Baber  |  23 October 2021

NSW Central Coast | 11km | easy

Hubby and I spent a day on the central coast recently helping at a working bee for a friend who is renovating his home. My contribution to the day’s activities was outside, tidying up and planting some cuttings I had brought with me. Once the garden work was done, I gave the boys some words of encouragement and informed them that gyprocking was not in my skill set and I was going for a walk. I pried one of the workers away for long enough to drop me at Chittaway Bay, one end of the Tuggerah Lake shared pathway.

This end of the path can be accessed from the end of Chittaway Road, or a little further along at the Lion Park. A rough dirt path winds through the casuarina trees on the lakes edge where there is evidence of children entertaining themselves by building bush shelters during lockdown. The path turns right, back up to the road, to cross a small waterway, then back through the parkland to the water’s edge.

Looking out over the lake you can see the Norfolk Island Pines and the bridge at The Entrance. It seems quite a distance and I will be interested to see how far I make it.

Before long you are walking on a concrete shared pedestrian/cycle path and passing the first of many playgrounds around the lake. Although it is a weekend and a beautiful day there are very few people using the path. Just the occasional family or cyclist to smile and nod too. The grass is very well tended, I assume by council, and there are pockets of environmental rehabilitation along the shore.

There are no shortage of benches and picnic table dotted along the shore, and access from the streets can frequently be seen in between the houses.

If you get tired of looking at the lake and the plethora of bird life there is ample opportunity to sticky beak at the gardens of the houses on the other edge of the parklands. It would be a lovely view to wake up to each morning, out over the lake. I pass the occasional retired gentlemen on a ride on mower, assisting the council by making sure the grass in the reserve is up to their exacting standards. Some keen gardeners have extended their plantings into the reserve with garden beds hugging the bases of the trees.

At Tumbi Umbi Creek there is the first of two large metal footbridges that connect the path as it runs around the lake. The second bridge crosses Saltwater Creek, and just before this bridge there is a saltmarsh restoration site. The local community is working hard to protect and restore the natural environment. Saltmarsh is an important ecosystem in lakes providing feeding area for birds and nursery habitat for young fish. It helps break down see grass and helps keep the lake clean and healthy. A board walk has been set up through the restoration area with information signs explaining the work being done and why we need it. This is a great spot for doing some bird spotting.

Once you cross Saltwater Creek bridge the atmosphere of the walk begins to change. The feeling of having the path almost to yourself is gone and the number of picnickers, cyclists and pedestrians increases dramatically. I have covered about 7km at this point with another 4 km to go to reach The Entrance.

Saltwater Creek Reserve has the largest playground so far, a fenced playground for the littlies and some more adventurous equipment for older kids. There is a BMX track, BBQ’s, toilets and picnic tables. The path between here and The Entrance is very popular with families on foot or under pedal power.

One landmark to stop and admire is Long Jetty. There are three jetties along this section of the lake, Parrys Jetty and Watkins Jetty are the first two you pass. The longest and aptly named ‘Long Jetty’ is 351 meters long and is the longest jetty in NSW. Sadly you can’t currently walk all the way to the end as it is under repair, but it is worth going as far as you can for a lovely view back to the shore. Four seats facing the lake were recently built beside the jetty, I can picture us having a seafood picnic and a glass of wine here while we watch the sunset.

As well as more people between Saltwater Creek and The Entrance, the environment also starts to change. More trees, some beautiful paperbarks, and one section that is almost rainforesty. As you near the end of the point you come to Picnic Point, BBQs, toilets, and a skate park with fabulous water views. This is the end of the shared pathway, from here it is just pedestrian traffic.

Although this is the end of the lakeside walk the footpath continues along the channel, under the bridge and around to Memorial Park and The Waterfront mall. It is lovely to see so many people enjoying the sunshine after being in lockdown for so many months. There are people fishing, boating and swimming on the sandbars. The atmosphere is relaxed with rides and playgrounds for the kids, the cafes and restaurants are doing a booming trade.

There are a couple of pelicans floating amongst the swimmers and I see that my timing has been good with the pelican feeding due to start shortly. I treat myself to a smoothy and find a seat in the sun to wait. The allotted time comes and goes with no sign of anyone bringing pelican food, in fact no more pelicans turn up either. I can only assume that COVID put an end to the regular entertainment and they haven’t taken the sign down. Hopefully this will slowly come back to normal, as with so many things at the moment.

An easy flat walk with the flexibility to be as long or short as you have the energy for. A great walk or ride for the kids and suitable for dogs as long as they are kept on leash. Highly recommend it!

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