Home' Hunter Its People : Hunter Our Backyard June 2011 Contents 38
FABULOUS natural attractions would be more than enough to draw people to picturesque
locations in Great Lakes and Gloucester, but don't be fooled; there's also plenty going on.
Both regions offer some of the nation's most jaw-dropping scenery, from stretches of sandy
beaches to stunning mountains, areas so well regarded they can boast a World Heritage listing and
plenty of word-of-mouth recommendations.
The Great Lakes is 168 km north of Newcastle and 320 km north of Sydney. It's a predominantly
rural area, but has ever-expanding urban areas as many city families make the sea change. The
area is not without some industry and commercial land uses.
The region has a land area of 3373 square kilometres with the greatest proportion taking in
beautiful national parks, state forests and various nature reserves. The scenery includes an enviable
coastline, beaches, forested areas, lakes and mountains. Major features include Booti Booti, Ghin-
Doo-Ee, Myall Lakes and Wallingat national parks, Myall Lake, Smiths Lake and Wallis Lake.
Main industries include timber production, oyster farming, fishing and grazing, but it is tourism
that plays a pivotal role in the area's economy.
With so much on offer, locals and tourists are drawn to regular high-profile events and more
leisurely pursuits such as bush walking or a dip in the ocean. A kaleidoscope of activities, from sea,
lake and bush adventures, are on offer year-round. Surfers, divers and fishermen are guaranteed
some great spots.
The region has major festivals and tournaments that attract thousands, including Forster
Anaconda Adventure Race, the Forster Optus Tennis Tour Tournament, Triathlon championships
at Forster-Tuncurry, the Walk on the Wildside Festival at Hawks Nest, Forster Film Festival and
Myall Coast Festival at Tea Gardens.
Great Lakes Mayor Jan McWilliams has lived in the region for 25 years and has represented her
constituents on council for 16 of those years.
''The area still has that friendly country feel where happy residents abound,'' says McWilliams,
who was a business administrator before moving to Forster-Tuncurry and regularly recommends
the region as a great place to holiday or retire.
''Why would you not be happy living in paradise. To cross the bridge between Forster and
Tuncurry is just breathtaking, with magnificent views of our famous lake system and out to the
''We are located within easy driving distances of Newcastle, Port Macquarie and even Sydney. We
really do have the best of both worlds and I can't think of a better place to retire.
''Whether you like fishing, swimming, water sports or trekking in the fabulous hinterland, it's all
here. The bonuses are interesting country villages sprinkled throughout the area.''
Most of the population is centred around the seaside towns of Forster and Tuncurry with small
villages located further along the coast and inland.
The Biripi and Worimi Aboriginal people were the original inhabitants of the area. European
settlement dates back to 1826 when the Australian Agricultural Company established its
headquarters in Carrington with a sheep and farm outpost at Stroud. This was followed by small
settlements in the area in the 1830s and 1840s, but growth was slow. The AA company withdrew in
Some growth took place from the 1870s to the 1890s, continuing into the early 1900s, especially in
Forster and Tuncurry. Timber-getting, saw milling and shipbuilding helped establish the areas. The
post-war period was a significant time for development, particularly the 1960s when sandmining,
road and bridge construction and tourism came into its own.
Now Great Lakes is a popular ''lifestyle region'' because of the number of retirees and people
Sea changers and tree changers are being drawn to the
jaw-dropping scenery and idyllic lifestyles of the Great
Lakes and Gloucester areas.
Wonders of nature
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