It is the final evening of our houseboating weekend and on the other side of the world, where I grew up, the coronation of King Charles III is in full swing. As I cook pasta for my teenage daughters on the vessel's four-burner gas stove-top, I'm keeping a lazy eye on proceedings on the houseboat's wall-mounted television when my 15-year-old, usually superglued to her Iphone, suddenly gets excited. "Look at the moon!" she exclaims, rushing onto the front deck for a better view. Over the last few nights, a full "Flower Moon" has been our constant companion on Lake Macquarie, lighting a bright, twinkling path across the saltwater toward the houseboat and remaining high in the sky well beyond sunrise, each morning. However, what we are witnessing now is something I have never seen before. Around the moon is a shimmering, unbroken, concentric circle of light. It is a lunar halo, I discover later, caused by light from the moon refracting and reflecting off millions of minuscule ice crystals in the thin cirrus clouds, swirling 6km above us. It's been two sunny autumn days since we left Lake Macquarie Houseboats' base, nervously edging our 45-foot floating home out of Kilaben Bay. I'd been hoping for a local adventure and some bonding time with my teenagers, but tonight's lunar phenomenon has helped this trip not only surpass expectations but smash them out of the lake. We arrive at our first overnight mooring, on the northern side of Pulbah Island Nature Reserve, near the middle of this 110 square kilometre waterway, on a glinting sunlit afternoon. The spot has been recommended by David Amos, owner of Lake Mac Houseboats, for its protection from the prevailing southerly breeze. After carefully sidling up to and tying onto to one of three "courtesy" public moorings, we are soon having a refreshing swim off the back of the boat. At twice the size of Sydney harbour, Lake Macquarie is Australia's largest coastal lagoon. For tens of thousands of years, the waterway provided a thriving home to our Awabakal people, who call it Awaba, meaning "flat or plain surface". Pulbah Island is one of many significant indigenous sites around the lake. These days, familiar modern settlements like Warners Bay, Belmont, Swansea and Toronto hug the lakeshores. Yet, as we find on our first evening, it is easy to find a quiet location, where the only sound is the clunk of water against the hull or the chime of bell birds in nearby trees. Over three evenings we establish a relaxing rhythm, arriving at our chosen mooring by mid-afternoon, going for an explore in the tinny and having a swim in the lake. Then after a hot shower in the houseboat bathroom, we settle in for a lustrous water-amplified sunset, over drinks and snacks, followed by an equally dazzling moonrise. Even a small drama, on our first morning, doesn't disturb the peace. After making the schoolboy error of coming off our mooring before starting the engines, we find that neither will fire-up and we can't get the automatic anchor to work. As we drift toward shore, I urgently call David Amos, who tries, unsuccessfully, to troubleshoot the problem by phone. "I'll be there in 10 minutes," reassures Amos, as the houseboat fortunately comes to rest against an overhanging tree branch, on Pulbah Island. "This is only about my fifth call-out in fifteen years," he says, clambering aboard, having raced to our rescue in his tinny. With the houseboat's flat batteries replaced and no damage done, we are soon across the lake, enjoying breakfast at a Murrays Beach cafe. The rest of a sun-smooched autumn day is spent puttering south, first to Point Wolstoncroft, where we have lunch on the boat's open top deck, and then onto our sheltered overnight mooring, at Browns Point, east of Crangan Bay. It is hard to describe our second night's sunset and moonrise without getting hyperbolic. As the sun slips away with a golden afterglow, turning the scattered clouds above crimson and the water around us almost purple, so the full moon rises, illuminating a bright, jiggling pathway to the boat, across the lake. We feel so embedded in nature that is hard to believe we are so close to Newcastle. The following morning's sunrise is no less resplendent. I love getting up early each day, with the teenagers still sleeping soundly, to watch the mist dissipate and lake come alive. On our final full day, we cruise north, grabbing breakfast at Common Circus café, behind Belmont Baths, and dropping into Croudace Bay, before heading across the lake to see the excellent Archibald Prize exhibition, at the Museum of Art and Culture, Yapang, at Booragul. We reach our third night mooring, at Green Point, by early afternoon, and for the remainder of this warm, largely windless, autumn day, explore the foreshore reserve, strolling its rainforest trails and boardwalk, and swimming and snorkelling between the beach and the houseboat. It is when we are back on the boat, later that evening, that we witness that spectacular lunar halo. It is a natural extravaganza that, for us, eclipses all the royal glitter and pomp happening in London, and which crowns an unforgettable adventure, much closer to home. Steering: The steering wheel is not as sensitive as in a car, taking longer to shift the boat rudders to change direction or correct mistakes. When we leave from Killaben Bay, I unintentionally turn the vessel almost full circle, before getting the hang of it. Sliding left and right engine levers, beside the steering wheel, also control direction and allow you to reverse. Mooring: There are 35 "courtesy" public moorings around the lake. We take advantage of these at Pulbah Island, Murrays Beach, Point Wolstoncroft, Browns Point, Croudace Bay, Belmont Baths and Green Point. Each mooring has a rope attached to it, with a loop on it that allows boaters to pull it up, using an onboard hook. The houseboat is secured to the mooring by looping the rope around metal cleats at the front of the vessel. Get to public moorings by mid-afternoon to ensure a spot. Lake Macquarie Houseboats has numerous moorings too, including one near the jetty beneath the MAC Gallery. What to take: Light sleepers should take earplugs to counteract the sound of water slapping the hull; bedding is supplied but bring towels; don't forget fishing gear to catch dinner and fins and snorkel gear for exploring the lake; BYO food, drink and ice too. On board facilities include small fridge/freezer, large esky, BBQ, gas oven/grill/stove and toilet/shower. Take advantage of lakeside cafes: Use the tinny to pop into cafes like Murrays at Murrays Beach, Common Circus at Belmont and Three Bears at the MAC Yapang, at Booragul. Take it easy: Don't try to see the whole lake in one weekend, it is one of the largest saltwater lagoons in the Southern Hemisphere. Relax and enjoy a few spots for longer. The writer was a guest of Lake Macquarie Houseboats.