The town of Forster in New South Wales lies just over 300 kms from Sydney, along the coastline to the north of Australia's largest city. Originally it was mainly a fishing town but it also had shipbuilding yards and mills. Today it's a popular tourist destination.
Forster lies on the shores of Wallis Lake. This is part of Australia's Great Lakes region, along with the Myall Lakes and Port Stephens. There are several towns and villages in the area. For instance, across Wallis Lake from Forster lies Tuncurry, linked to Forster by a bridge. The Great Lakes region is only about three hours' drive from Sydney, making it the perfect place for a short getaway.
Beaches - Forster and the surrounding area has fantastic beaches. One Mile Beach is the main beach here, with great surfing and sand-boarding if you don't want to simply bask in the sun. There are several other beaches with great surf breaks and fishing spots. If you want an all-over tan, head down the peninsula to Elizabeth Beach, then go from there to Shelly Beach, where clothing is optional.
Oysters - Wallis Lake's salty water is the perfect place to farm oysters. The area produces more Sydney rock oysters than any other in the Southern Hemisphere. There are several oyster farms where you can buy the delicious molluscs fresh and at wholesale prices. This is the ideal solution for when you don't know what to pack in the picnic basket, but you'll have to eat them quick to enjoy them at their best.
Booti Booti National Park - The Booti Booti National Park covers the peninsula south of Forster, along the eastern shore of Lake Wallis. The beaches here are spectacular, but it's not only a haven for fishing and water-sports enthusiasts. Hiking and cycling are popular activities too and there are various lookout points where you can try and spot whales or dolphins during their migration seasons. The park also has camping, barbecue and picnic facilities.
Great Lakes Museum, Tuncurry - If you're interested in the history of the area, a visit to the Great Lakes Museum in Tuncurry is a must. The museum's main building used to be the old building of the National Bank in Forster. It was taken across the bridge in two pieces and reconstructed at its current site. The museum complex also houses other buildings, like the first Tuncurry school, a windmill and a police lock-up.
Myall Lakes National Park - The Myall Lakes National Park is on the Ramsar list of wetlands of international importance. This park is great for bird-watching, since it's home to water birds like pelicans, herons, egrets, ducks and swans. Many frog and toad species live in this wetland habitat and you can also spot wallabies, bandicoots and kangaroos. From some of the lookout points you may even be able to see whales, dolphins and fur seals. There are various tracks and boardwalks that will bring you closer to nature. Accommodation options include camping or a stay in one of the original lighthouse-keeper's cottages. The park is 35 km south-west of Forster.
Port Stephens - At the southern end of the Great Lakes region lies Port Stephens. This is a natural harbour where bottlenose dolphins and whales come to frolic in the water. There are several operators that arrange boat and kayak tours to take you closer to these magnificent animals. The dolphin-watching season falls in the Australian summer months, from around November to April, while the whale-watching season is from around May to November, during the Australian winter. Port Stephens is about 170 km from Forster.