In 2010 we returned to our home town, Woy Woy on the Central Coast of NSW. It’s tucked away on a peninsula, just over an hour north of Sydney.
We returned to Woy Woy because of unforeseen circumstances, but we knew if we were to survive the post-travel depression blues, we’d have to put the travel glasses on and start seeing the Central Coast through fresh eyes.
Last week, we left Woy Woy and the Central Coast for our one-year road trip around Australia.
We’re leaving with peace and gratitude and a healthy love for our home region. It’s truly beautiful, and we learned so much about what it has to offer any traveller.
It now makes many of our undiscovered and best places in Australia. We happily tell people to turn off the Pacific Highway, drive down the mountain, and explore more of what the Central Coast has to offer.
The fun really did start here for our 18 month Australian road trip, and we’d love for you to embrace the fun in our childhood home.
On our current road trip, we are getting so many great local tips from our readers on things to see and do.
We’d like to return that favour, by giving you our local tips on things to do on the Central Coast, NSW These are all the things we are now missing out on as we explore Australia.
Arrive in style by ferry from Palm Beach to Ettalong Beach
If you are coming from Sydney, we recommend jumping on a ferry from Palm Beach to Ettalong.
It only takes 20 minutes and the scenery is really beautiful. You’ll cruise on in past Box head, which if the waves are pumping, is the place to surf on the Peninsula.
Or, arrive by train from Sydney (1 hour). It’s a picturesque and serene journey past the Hawksberry River.
Enjoy the natural beauty of the Central Coast
Visit Secluded Pearl Beach
Pearl Beach is where a lot of celebrities and wealthy Sydney Siders come to visit. There’s a peaceful and spiritual energy at Pearlie. It has the most beautiful outlook across to Lion’s Island and Palm Beach.
Head to the rock pool on the southern end of the beach, for a quieter, more bushlike setting. If you want a bit more adventure, take a hike on the old fire trail for beautiful views out over the Hawkesbury River.
This is one of the best things to do on the Central Coast – local’s favorite.
Picnic at Somersby Falls
Somersby Falls made the local radio stations’ “top 50 local secrets” list of things to do on the Central Coast.
It’s a lovely spot for a picnic and a scenic walk. It’s no Victoria Falls, but makes for a great half day out.
Visit the Central Coast Wildlife Parks
The Central Coast has two great Wildlife Parks.
The Reptile Park is quite an Australian icon and one of the Central Coast’s most popular attractions. This park was founded by the great Eric Worrell, Australia’s first naturalist.
The Reptile Park is the only zoo in Australia committed to saving lives with a Venom-Milking Program in place for the past 50+ years. There are plenty of wildlife shows and chances to interact with the animals. They have quite an extensive range of Australian animals.
The latest is the Australian Wildlife Park a little more personal and interactive + it’s the only time I’ve ever patted a dingo.
They also have Aboriginal walks through the surrounding bush, and night safari sleep overs, which sound pretty cool.
Do the Bouddi National Park Coastal Walk
By far one of our favourite Central Coast discoveries is the Bouddi National Park Coastal Walk.
This is our own Bondi to Coogee coastal walk, except you will have almost the entire track to yourself. It is simply stunning. We have done it several times with our kids and they love it.
Start from Putty Beach, pack a picnic lunch to have on secluded Maitland Bay before walking back. A round trip will take around 4 hours (we did it with 2 kids).
The Bouddi National Park coastal walk is my local’s tip for the best thing to do on the Central Coast, NSW.
Get active on the Central Coast, NSW
The Five Lands Walk, from McMasters Beach to Terrigal Beach
The Five Lands Walk on the Central Coast NSW is one of the most enjoyable festivals I’ve ever participated in.
It is held every June to coincide with the migrating whales. The whale is an important totem of the local Aboriginal tribe. The Five Lands walk moves through the five beaches of McMasters, Copacabana, Avoca, North Avoca, and Terrigal Beach.
At each land, there are shows, dances, and food to celebrate the traditional elders of the land, as well as the various migrant communities that live in the area. It’s really special and one you don’t want to miss.
Read more: The Five Lands Walk, Central Coast
Cycle the Central Coast Brisbane Water track
This ride completely surprised us with how enjoyable this free Central Coast outdoor activity was. We’ve driven up and down the Gosford to Woy Woy road without ever thinking it was anything other than boring.
Jumping on a bike showed us there was a whole lot more to it, there are wetlands and waterways to appreciate. If you are brave enough, you can cycle around the entire Brisbane water – a 41km journey.
Otherwise, jump off the train at Gosford and bike to Woy Woy (approx 8km’s) finishing off with some classic fish and chips at Fishermans Wharf.
Enjoy the adventure on the Central Coast, NSW
Go horse riding, abseiling, kayaking and quad biking at Glenworth Valley
We LOVED discovering Glenworth Valley and could not believe it was even on the Central Coast.
It’s such a secret, adventurous place to hang out. We recommend coming for at least one night and camping. Get up early for the horse mustering.
It’s a really special experience to see herds of horses come galloping up through the fields from the mist. We were the only ones there watching.
Spend the day horse riding through the valley, quad bike riding, kayaking or abseiling.
Kalyra loved her first horse ride on Chili.
Swing through the trees at Treetop Adventure Park, Ourimbah
Want to play Tarzan and do a bit of Jungle surfing?
Then head to tree tops and zip line through the trees. They have courses to suit all ages (and bravery) including one giant flying fox that hurtles you over the car park to the finish.
Kalyra loved this activity, and despite being so fearful jumped off the kiddies flying fox to do her course again.
Best beaches on the Central Coast, NSW
The Central Coast has some beautiful beaches, many of them great for surfing, or with lovely rock pools for the kids to swim in.
Here are some of our favourites:
Beautiful natural looking beach with sheltered rock pool area for kids.
There’s also a great rock pool area here for the kids. For the surfers, just head north to North Avoca for better waves.
Terrigal is the most popular beach town on the coast. Swim at the main beach or take the kids around to the Haven or the lagoon for a paddle.
By day or night, Terrigal is buzzing with cafes, restaurants and the beer garden at Crowne Plaza.
Picturesque sheltered bay for swimming.
Norah Head is another picturesque beach. Walk up to the lighthouse for a great view, and for the surfers head south to Soldiers Beach.
Many of Australia’s wealthy like Alan Jones and John Singleton have homes here. It’s a quieter beach and has great waves when conditions are right. Head north around the bend and you have Putty Beach, the Bouddi coastal walk.
Enjoy some family fun on the Central Coast
Go local at the Avoca Beachside Markets
These are small markets run every 4th Sunday of the month.
There are the usual craft and food stalls. There are a couple of lovely spots under trees to retreat to for a bite to eat or to listen to some local acoustic artists play in Lizottes corner.
Get your quirky on at Amazement
This doesn’t sound like much of an epic adventure, but trust us, it’s a lot of fun.
It’s quirky and has enough to entertain you and the kids for hours. There are mazes to get lost in, farm animals to hold, peacocks to chase, games like bocce to play, trails to bike around, and an entertaining sheep race.
You can see how much fun our girls had in the video below:
Pelican feeding at The Entrance
This is quite the popular thing to do every day at 3:30pm on the Entrance foreshore. It’s actually quite cool to watch how the pelicans fly in from nearby waterways to fill their bellies and to watch them jostle and fight for a tasty morsel of fish.
There is a really great playground here for the kids, and The Entrance is a pretty area to explore while you are here.
Places to stay on the Central Coast NSW
Crowne Plaza, Terrigal
The Crowne Plaza, Terrigal is an iconic Central Coast place to stay.
It has a fabulous beer garden (we think one of the best in Oz) overlooking the beach. From Thurs – Sun they have live acoustic music. Head upstairs to the Lord Ashley Bar for high tea or a cocktail.
Our best tip: grab some wine and walk around to the Haven for beautiful sunset views over Terrigal Beach.
The Mantra, Ettalong
We recently had Craig’s 40th/ farewell party at the Mantra Ettalong. It has the most beautiful views. It’s a really popular place for Sydney Siders to stay on a weekend. The ferry from Palm Beach almost drops you at the front door.
Ocean Beach Caravan Park
The award winning Ocean beach caravan park has all the accommodation options and facilities to meet any families needs. A great pool area with water slide is the highlight, otherwise, simply walk straight across the road to Umina Beach.
Patonga Caravan Park
This is such a pretty, secluded caravan park in a very small local town on the beach. It’s great for families looking for a relaxing getaway with nature, especially if there are any fishing fans in the family.
Places to eat on the Central Coast
Fisherman’s Wharf, Woy Woy
I may be a little biased about Fishermen’s Wharf, BUT, back in 1996, they did have the best cook there in the restaurant by the name of Caz!
Truly, Fisho’s is such a great place to eat on the Central Coast. It has the best calamari I have ever eaten and lunch or dinner on the wharf with views over the quiet channel is such a relaxing way to enjoy time with friends or family.
Bamboo Buddha Cafe, Holgate
The Bamboo Buddha cafe is an oasis set in Holgate is a vegetarian cafe / gallery / tea garden / nursery all rolled into one. Go treat yourself to some organic coffee and a spot of tranquility.
Toto cafe was our local cafe. It’s in the Ettalong Tourist Resort, where you can also enjoy a beautiful dinner in one of the many restaurants there.
You can also duck into the cinema for a movie. Our tip: buy your movie ticket at Totos, you’ll get a bargain price if you buy a coffee with it.
L’anxaneta (Killcare general store)
L’anxaneta is a unique cafe / Spanish tapas bar is located in the heritage listed old Killcare store. Great coffee, cakes and views across the water at Hardy’s Bay.
Rojo Rockets, Avoca
We have not actually eaten at Rojo Rockets, but have heard how great it is, so we had to put it in the post. Said to be authentic Mexican and lots of fun.
Need more NSW tips?
Have you visited the Central Coast? What are your tips?