Despite the withdrawal of two cruise boats from Lake Macquarie over the past decade, general manager of Newcastle’s Nova Cruises Peter Hanrahan says “it’s time” for a regular passenger service to get back on the water.
Nova Cruises, which has operated in Newcastle since 2006, will launch its first voyage on the body of water this weekend, capitalising on the start of the summer season.
Mr Hanrahan said he had been considering starting a service on the lake for sometime.
“We needed to find a suitable vessel to start with, one with a large enough carrying capacity, a shallow draft and relatively light to suit many of the wharves on the lake, and one that fit in our budget,” he said.
The boat that was purchased was previously used in Port Macquarie.
“The vessel was originally the Nambucca Princess, and has spent most of its life on the Hawkesbury and Sydney Harbour, and the last seven years at Port Macquarie.
“Apart from the boat we needed a team behind us, a range of different skippers, deck hands, catering. We just got to a stage where we could offer a reliable service.”
The newly named Lady Mac will host weekly dinner and lunch cruises, ‘boom net and biscuits’ tours as well as a longer half-day trip departing from Booragul.
“My wife was,” he said.
“But just with the demand we’ve had over the last 12 years… We get regular calls asking about cruises on the lake.
“And the fact there’s no other boats down there makes it a good time to start cruises.”
He said support from residents, tourism bodies as well as accommodation providers in the region had been “overwhelming”.
“I think it is such a pristine waterway, but unless you’re fortunate enough to own your own boat you really can’t access it or enjoy it. I think that is just driving the support.”
Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser has lauded the return of a regular commercial cruise as a “windfall” for the region.
“Our tourism team has been receiving a growing number of enquiries and requests from people who want to get afloat on Lake Macquarie and see it from a new perspective,” she said.
“That includes tourists visiting our City and locals who have lived here for years but have never actually been out on the water.”