Escape the hustle and bustle of the Sydney streets and beaches and head north to the more relaxed, untouched wild setting of the Central Coast Australia. Gosford is the heart of the Central Coast region which is only a short 76-kilometeres North of Sydney. As Central Coast Australia does not usually appear on the tourist / backpacker radar, I have put together a guide on things to do in the area as I believe it is an area that must be visited on the East Coast of Australia.
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Getting to Central Coast Australia
There are trains that depart from Central Station Sydney that connect with Central Coast in 1.5 hours. However, by the time you arrive at many of the Central Coast stations (Gosford, Wyong, Woy Wot, Tuggerah…) you will not be able to go much further without a car. It would be therefore ideal to rent a car or campervan to have the freedom to discover the hidden gems of the region. To reach the Central Coast, simply follow the M1 from Sydney, a leisurely drive of just over an hour.
Places to discover on the Central Coast
Long Jetty is on the peninsula just before The Entrance. To the west, Long Jetty runs along Lake Tuggerah. The ballad of Long Jetty Foreshore Reserve is relaxing with benches and barbecues scattered around. It is an ideal place to admire remarkable sunsets on the lake while cooking up a BBQ. To the east, the center of Long Jetty (literally formed by a single street) is a trendy place boasting vintage shops, thrift stores, hipster bars and cafés.
The Entrance is a picturesque town where a saltwater lake meets the sea. With plenty of restaurants along the lake and a few shops, the atmosphere is typical of a small tourist seaside resort. Calm prevails except on Saturday mornings when the weekly market is held as well as the famous “Pelican Feed” at 3:30pm daily. Each visit to The Entrance will be different as the tides completely changes the landscape. Swimming in the lake is popular as the water is often warmer than the ocean. The lake is also a popular spot for fishing.
Terrigal is a seaside resort where you can find quality restaurants, a nice beach and a few shops. If you want to eat French, I recommend the gourmet restaurant L’Isle de France, both for dishes and for the nice view. For the seafood lovers, I recommend The Terrigal Beach Fish & Chips.
Shelly Beach is a large wild beach and its panoramic restaurant, The Balcony allows you to enjoy a good meal with a spectacular view. If you are travelling with a dog or are a dog lover head down to the left side of the beach as it is dog friendly.
With little to no waves and crystal-clear water, Toowoon Bay is the perfect spot for a family day out or to just float around and relax.
Avoca Beach is a rather unusual beach because it is located between the sea and the saltwater lake.
Take a walk along the Spoonbay Access Track in the Wamberal Lagoon Nature Reserve to end up a beautiful beaches with amazing turquoise blue hues.
Some more beaches of interest are: Lobster Beach, Little Beach, Pelican Beach, Cabbage Tree Harbor, Umima Beach, Killcare Beach, Copacabana Beach and Forresters Beach. The beaches are definitely not lacking on the Central Coast.
Activities & Excursions
Hiking and Lookouts
Tomaree Head & Port Stephens
Although Port Stephens is not technically part of the Central Coast Australia, I recommend crossing the “border” to hike up Tomaree Head. Tomaree Head is a 2.2KM return Grade 5 hike. If you are feeling fit, pack a picnic to enjoy at the top while marvelling at the incredible views over the surrounding coastlines.
While you are in the area, why not go for a camel ride at Birubi Beach, explore the Stockton sand dunes by 4×4 and for the keen snorkelers, explore the underwater world at “Fly Point”.
In Nelson Bay, you can discover Nelson Head Lighthouse and especially make a stop at Little Beach reserve to see the pelicans bustling around the fishermen at the end of the day. For snorkeling enthusiasts, “Fly Point” is the ideal place.
Norah Head and the ride to the lighthouse
The walk to the lighthouse is very short. Going down a few steps you will reach rocks that overlook the sea.
Wyrrabalong National Park – Crackneck Lookout
This is a hike accessible to all who can have a nice view of the bay. You can sometimes see dolphins and whales, depending on the season. From the point of view, you can also reach La coast walking track. This walk of 3 km (one way) will allow you to admire the landscape along Boat Bay. This walk is ideal during the winter months when you can watch the whales during their migration.
Brisbane Water National Park
This national park is huge and there are many hikes, suitable for all levels. One of them leads to a nice suspension bridge. You will find all the information, maps and hikes on the official website of the national park.
Activities on the Central Coast
Visit the Australian Reptile Park
Located in Somersby, this zoo allows you to learn more about the local wildlife. You will be able to touch snakes or lizards thanks to passionate employees who will be happy to share their knowledge. There are also kangaroos that you can approach. The park is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $44 (online purchase, $46 when you buy on site).
Henry Kendall Cottage & The Historical Museum
Located in Gosford, this tiny volunteer-run museum showcases the story of an old convict and poet, Henry Kendall. Through him, discover the life of the first generations of Australian convicts and settlers. You can visit the cottage every day between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The museum is open on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Gosford Regional Gallery
The small art gallery is free and the Japanese garden a haven of peace.
Six String Brewing Company
This is a traditional brewery, located in Erina, which offers beer tastings. There is also the opportunity to learn more about the fermentation and beer design.
Also located in Erina, this is the perfect place to understand the making of Gin as well as other spirits. Philip Moore and his team share their passion and will take you on a tour of the distillery and its gardens.
The Wyong Milk Factory
They say things come in three, right? The Wyong Milk Factory has that down pat; a tiny Cheese Factory, a Chocolate Factory and a former Milk Factory transformed into a restaurant. Check for event updates on their Facebook page but, one Friday a month, DragQueens host a bingo night.
Tree climbing and zipline turns
Tree Tops Adventure Park offers several activities that will suit young and old alike: tree climbing, a zip line (the longest in the world) and other outdoor games. It is highly recommended to book in advance. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Allow $50 per person for the Tree Ropes Course which lasts 2h50.
Take the Ettalong Ferry to Palm Beach
Take a ride with Fantasea across beautiful blue waters and try to spot some dolphins and whales.
Shelly Beach Golf Club
For golf enthusiasts, the Shelly Beach Golf Club offers breathtaking views of the sea while having a hit. There is also a renowned restaurant on the course making it a draw card for the non-golfers as well. You do not have to be a member of the golf club to visit.
Kangaroo visits to Morisset Park are no longer allowed. Just a few miles north of Central Coast, Morisset Park was the perfect place to go and see some kangaroos roaming free. Due to poor behavior by some tourists, access to the park (which is in fact the property of a psychiatric hospital) was closed. You can still park outside to try see some kangaroos …