A huge thank you to blog reader Sonja Screpsis who shared her passion for Forster on the NSW North Coast with us here. What an encouragement to visit Foster she’s written here – so much info and it sounds so fab for families.
Holidays with kids in Forster
I have been holidaying in Forster for most of my life as we were lucky enough to own a holiday house there since 1972. I often joke that I am a part time resident. Now that I am older, with children of my own, I often rediscover the many wonderful features of Forster when we go there on holidays.
Forster – Tuncurry is a bit over 300 kms from Sydney or 3 ½ hours drive. Since the freeway has been upgraded all the way through Bulahdelah, the trip has become much easier.
The Forster area has a lot of natural highlights. You have the ocean on one side and Wallis Lake on the other. You are also surrounded by other lakes and rivers that provide the setting for an ideal holiday. The lakes are also perfect for kids – shallow, clean, clear water.
Caravan Parks/ Camping
There are a few caravan parks around Forster, some of which are directly on the lake or near the beach:
Tiona Park is between Forster and Pacific Palms. More of a bushland experience. There is also a National Park campaign ground nearby.
NorthCoast Holiday Park is just around the corner from Forster Beach and therefore close to everything. Great for watching the fireworks on New Years Eve.
Lakeside Resort Forster is about 5 minutes drive outside of Forster close to Forster Keys. I have friends who have stayed here with kids and loved it. Right on Wallis Lake with lots of amenities for the families.
Smugglers Cove is on The Lakes Way as you drive into Forster and is also situated on the lake.
Lani’s Holiday Island is also on the lake, with a natural camping experience on their island.
Holiday Units/ Houses
There are some lovely holiday homes and units for rent. When selecting the area you would like to stay, think about whether you want to be really close to town (Forster/ Tuncurry) which might get a bit hectic during the holiday season.
Or if you would like to stay a bit outside of Forster, closer to some of the other beaches/ lakes that are around (Blueys & Boomerang Beach/ Pacific Palms/ Greenpoint/ Diamond Beach/ Cape Hawke)
Things To Do in Foster
There are so many different things to do in and around Forster. Go to the Information Centre in town for some suggestions or check out the website here.
There are plenty of outdoor activities like fishing, swimming, surfing, boogie boarding, water skiing, sailing, bushwalking, boating, snorkelling and looking at the rockpools.
Here are some of the things we enjoy:
Ripples on the Lake – Pacific Palms – this boatshed is right on the lake. Great for little kids to paddle around in the clear, shallow, sandy water. There aren’t any weeds for miles around. You can also hire paddleboards, kayaks, windsurfers here. We love to have a coffee whilst watching the kids in the water.
One Mile Beach – this beach is patrolled, it has a playground and grassed area, a kiosk and toilets, rockpools and awesome sand dunes that you can slide down.
Hire a boat on Wallis Lake – at Forster Marina, there are many different boat hire places where you can hire a dinghy or a BBQ party boat, paddle boards and kayaks. This is a great way to explore the lake close to town. As you chug past the oyster leases you can make your way around so that you are under the bridge between Forster and Tuncurry. There are some small sand islands here where you can hang out for the day and enjoy the crystal clear water. I often think that we go overseas for such beautiful clear water when we have it right here on our doorstep.
Snorkelling at “The Tanks” – “The Tanks” are a natural rock formation next to Pebbly Beach, which is not far from Forster main beach. The rocks create a pool on the beach side which is quite calm and great to learn snorkelling. You can also walk up along Bicentennial Walk up to Bennetts Head for a fantastic lookout where you are sure to spot some dolphins (or whales during whale migration season.)
The Breakwall and Tuncurry Rockpool – the rock wall that separates Forster Main Beach and Tuncurry Main Beach from the inlet to the lake is a great place for dolphin watching. On the Tuncurry side of the inlet, you have the Tuncurry Rockpool which is an enclosed, netted swimming area. Great for families with a kiosk, toilets and a BBQ area.
Tobwabba Art – for something truly unique, visit Tobwabba Art. Tobwabba Art is an 100 per cent Aboriginal owned artist collective providing employment and income for local Aboriginal artists and staff. When you visit, there may be an artist on-site and you are welcome to watch them work in the studio.
Fishing Charter – my 11 year old loved going deep sea fishing during our last holiday. We went with Forster Fishing Charters and they really knew which spots to go to and how to cater for kids. I would suggest 8+ would be the best age range.
Have recently come across an Estuary Charter on the lake. As our family aren’t the best fishing people, this might be a good way to experience things like crabbing and estuary fishing with locals.
Dolphin Watching – you can’t come to Forster without Dolphin Watching! You can see dolphins at the breakwall and many places along the coast. You will often see them surfing the waves. If you want an up close and personal perspective, you can take a dolphin cruise. We went on a cruise where you could swim with the dolphins. Don’t think this sort of cruise would suit younger kids, but it was lots of fun when we went.
Dolphin Cruises that would cater for younger children would be in bigger boats and include Amaroo Cruises. This is only a 2 hour cruise and runs daily at 10am.
Pacific Palms Markets – these markets are pretty laid back and low key and you are sure to find something unusual here. Generally they are on the last Sunday of the month, but during holidays, they are on more often. Check their website
Christmas holidays in Forster – December/ January usually sees the carnival come to town. They always set up carnival rides at John Wright Park, Tuncurry in Tuncurry next to the bridge.
The fireworks on New Years Eve are also quite good as you get quite a good view and they really cater for kids with face painting and entertainment. We get our fish ‘n’ chips or pizza and sit by the water and watch the fireworks. You can find a list of activities in the holidays here
If you are from Sydney, you will probably be looking for a good coffee in Forster. Must say that the cafes have come a long way over the years. Here are some suggestions, which you may incorporate into a day trip too.
Tartt – Located in the centre of Forster this cafe has delicious pizza and seriously good coffee.
Sotos Cafe – In Forster, overlooking the inlet to the lake, good coffee and light meals
Beach Bums Cafe – right on Forster Main Beach, this cafe has great food and great coffee. Wonderful place for a yummy breakfast –
Country Palings – Greenpoint – for the best iced coffee – ever – you need to come here. Cathy and Ken take their coffee seriously. They also have homemade cakes and desserts. It is also a quaint gift shop where you can find something lovely to take home.
Twenty By Twelve – Blueys Beach – consistently good coffee and gourmet deli food. Looks like they also do catering which is good for a large group of people staying on holiday.
Things to do when it’s not sunny
Forster YMCA Indoor Swimming Pool – Also has a gym for any of those healthy parent who want a work out whilst on holidays.
Honeycomb Valley Farm – this is a must see and definitely worth the 30 minute drive from Forster to Nabiac. It is a fully organic farm and the family are so hospitable. The kids can have a tour around the farm, have a ride in the tractor, navigate the obstacle course, collect some eggs, pat the animals and try fresh honey. It is also a farmstay if you would like to have a longer experience there.
Smiths Lake and Myall Lake – just south of Forster, you will find another couple of lakes. There are some lovely spots to visit along these lakes and they need their own list of things to do. Myall Lake is fresh water. To swim in this water is truly magical.
The Grandis – the largest tree in NSW. South of Forster, this tree is about 400 years old and huge. It used to be much more impressive when I was a kid as you could walk right up next to the tree. Now there is a viewing platform and you can’t get too close. But still one hell of an impressive tree.
Seal Rocks – beautiful untouched beach with a lighthouse.
Diamond Beach – north of Forster before you reach the highway. Another set of idyllic beaches in a tiny hamlet. Really laid back. About 40 minutes drive from Forster.
Port Macquarie – about 1 ½ hrs North of Forster. Port Macquarie is a larger town and has most of the larger shops and hospital facilities. We have visited:
- Ricardoes Strawberry & Tomato picking – great fun for the kids to go and pick their own strawberries.
- Timbertown – if you have boys that love trains, then this is the place to visit
- Billabong Koala Park – get up close to koalas and other animals. Really lovely small scale park.
- Westport Park Playground – inclusive playground by the water in Port Macquarie town centre
What a fantastic roundup of all the great stuff to do, plus where to stay, in Foster!
Thank you Sonja!
Sonja Screpis is an inner west mother of 3 + a dog, freelance marketeer, and full time activity coordinator (for her family). Passionate about exploring more of Oz with hubby and kids, Sonja hopes that you find this post helpful and that it inspires you to explore a little more.