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Lake Macquarie

Lake Macquarie is a lake located 150km north of Sydney, Australia, and immediately south of Newcastle. It is also a city, with a population of 188,717 as of June 2002.

Lake Macquarie is Australia's largest coastal lake, covering an area of 110 km2. It is a saltwater lake, due to being connected to the Pacific Ocean by a narrow but short channel. The land separating it from the ocean is only a few kilometers wide along most of its length. It has an irregular shape and a large island (Pulbah Island[?]) in the middle — there is no point on the coast from which you can see the entire expanse. However, a good view can be obtained from lookouts in the nearby Wattagan Mountains[?].

Lake Macquarie was discovered in 1800 by Captain William Reid[?]. Reid had been sent from Sydney to retrieve a load of coal from Newcastle Harbour (the Hunter River[?]). Reid took a wrong turn and found himself in a lake rather than a river, with no coal to be seen anywhere. The name "Reid's Mistake" was kept until 1826, when it was renamed in honour of Governor Lachlan Macquarie[?].

There is some recreational fishing in the Lake, although fish stocks have been significantly reduced from their original values due mainly to recreational fishing activity. Since settlement lake-bed silt has increased in some areas due to sealed roads and drainage, however the quantity is far less than in nearby Lake Munmorah[?], and swimming is quite tolerable.

Although Lake Macquarie is a technically a city, demographically it more closely resembles a collection of towns, tending to urbanisation as it merges into Newcastle at its northern fringe. Significant population centres include:

Lake Macquarie has a significant coal mining industry and smaller agriculture and manufacturing industries. Eraring power station[?], a 1980s-era coal-fired power station, supplies 25% of New South Wales' power. As of September 2002, Lake Macquarie had an unemployment rate of 8.7%, which is higher than the state average but lower than that of surrounding areas. Some areas have become a popular retirement destination. There is very little tourism, with the area being virtually unknown even to residents as close as Sydney.

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