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Off-the-grid adventure cabins slated for Cooranbong

Aerial photo showing the Cooranbong site in the foreground, off Freemans Drive

Plans are underway for a new off-the-grid holiday park in Lake Macquarie aimed at eco-tourists and adventure travellers.


Lake Macquarie City Council has won NSW Government grant funding to develop part of the 30ha site off Freemans Drive, north of Cooranbong, to include 20 bespoke cabins made from recycled shipping containers, along with 60 camping sites.

Holiday Parks Coordinator Garry Ellem said the Cooranbong Eco Adventure Retreat was perfectly placed near the foot of the Watagan Mountains, 5km from the Awaba Mountain Bike Park and just a few minutes from the M1 Motorway to attract outdoor enthusiasts.

“The other big feature will be the sustainable design principles employed from top to bottom across the retreat,” he said.

“This will be an off-the-grid site, using solar-powered amenities, rainwater harvesting and onsite sewage treatment.”

Ecotourism has grown to become a major sector of the tourism industry in Australia, employing more than 14,000 people and contributing annual revenue of $1.6 billion, according to peak industry body Ecotourism Australia.

Holiday Parks Coordinator Garry Ellem at the Cooranbong site.

Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser said the new venue would help cement Lake Macquarie’s status as an adventure tourism playground.

“This will provide further motivation for people to head to Lake Mac for the weekend or longer, to enjoy all the amazing outdoor activities we have on our doorstep,” she said.

“The retreat is only an hour from Sydney’s northern suburbs, so this is a very realistic weekend getaway for millions of potential visitors.”

Activities within a short distance of the site range from bushwalking, mountain biking and horse riding in the Watagans to jet-boating on Lake Macquarie and skydiving and aerobatic flying in the sky above.

Development of the planned $2.5 million retreat, which will sit on land already owned by Council, will include a $1.7 million grant from the NSW Government’s Regional Tourism Activation Fund.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the Cooranbong Adventure Retreat was exactly the type of project the Regional Tourism Activation Fund was created to support.

“This is a fantastic project that will entice a greater range of tourists to the Lake Macquarie area to enjoy some of the more extreme outdoor activities this beautiful region has to offer, from mountain biking and off-roading to skydiving,” Mr Toole said.

“The projects backed through the Regional Tourism Activation Fund will give domestic and international visitors more great reasons to holiday in our regions and experience all that regional NSW has to offer.”

Mr Ellem said a development application would soon be lodged, with the site expected to open in mid-2023, pending approval.

Concept site plan for the new eco retreat


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