The Central Coast of New South Wales is a coastal region located immediately to the north of the state capital of Sydney and south of the state's second largest city Newcastle. It markets itself as the playground of two cities.
A quiet semi-rural region between the cities of Sydney and Newcastle, it represents a great way to get away from the busy Sydney life without having to journey very far. It takes about 90 minutes to drive through when there is no traffic. It contains many suburban areas as well as numerous reserves and national parks.
The area's traditional owners were the Aboriginal people for many thousands of years, and in fact the Guringai and Darkinjung people were among the first encountered by the British settlers. The area only had small settlements in the early colony, until the establishment of the Sydney to Newcastle railway opened the area to tourism.
You can take the Pacific Motorway (M1) from Sydney, and exit at Gosford, Ourimbah, Tuggerah or Toukley exits depending on what part of the Central Coast you wish to go to. The trip from the start of the freeway at the north of Sydney will take around half an hour to the start of the Central Coast.
The coastal areas of the Central Coast are well served by the Sydney train network, which is a very economical way to visit the area. Trains from the Central station in Sydney direct to the Central Coast depart approximately every 30 minutes. The main stations are Woy Woy, Gosford, Tuggerah and Wyong. Journeys are on the Sydney Opal card and cost between $5 and $8 one way. The journey can take anywhere between 1.5 and 2 hours.
Ettalong is accessible by ferry from Palm Beach, with the passenger ferry crossing the Hawkesbury every hour or so. Buses run from the Wynyard and Manly to Palm Beach. Bikes are allowed on the ferry. The enthusiastic travel-planner can do a round trip back by bus and train. On the western end, there's car ferries from Wisemans Ferry which operate every few minutes.
As you head out of Sydney into the surrounding bushland, you may think you have left the city behind for the country roads; however, the Central Coast can have traffic and be just as busy as Sydney and Newcastle. Major roads criss-cross the area.
Buses on the Central Coast are privately run under contract, and are integrated into the Sydney ticketing and information system. You can get timetable information from Google Maps.
- See also: Cycling in New South Wales
There are some areas with well developed bicycle facilities, particularly between Woy Woy and Gosford, but some roads are busy multi-lane roads only for road warriors. Check out the normal bicycle maps sources (Local Council websites, Open Cycle Map, Google Maps) to plan your route.
The coastal train stops at most major settlements along the Central Coast, and runs frequently throughout the day.
- The Great North Road — built by convicts through rough terrain. Today it's one of eleven sites making up the UNESCO World Heritage listing "Australian Convict Sites".
- 1 Somersby Falls, Somersby Falls Rd, Somersby (8 km (5.0 mi) NW of Gosford, drive or taxi as there's no public transport available). Seeing the waterfalls in their full glory involves a picturesque walk down into the valley. There are three tiers of falls (top, middle and bottom) though the topmost is not very substantial. The path to the middle falls is safe with the stairs having railing all the way down. The descent to the bottom tier however, requires you to descend on shaky, rocky slabs which are often slippery and not always stable. It may be risky for the elderly or others with health and fitness concern to tread on these rocks. In any case, make sure to wear shoes with good grip. Once there, it’s only a 300 m walk to the bottom. Looking at the falls and using the accompanying picnic area are both free. Parking right next to the falls costs $8. Parking further out on the road is free though you'll have to walk bit more.
- 2 Wondabyne. Famed for its sheer remoteness, Wondabyne, surrounded by a river called Mullet Creek is the site of the only railway station in Australia that has inaccessible road access. (There are roads but they do not connect to the outside) A number of "squatter" houses along the creek are still used for fishing.
- 3 Edogawa Commemorative Garden, 36 Webb St, East Gosford, ☏ +61 2 4304 7550. Daily 9:30AM-4PM. A gift from Gosford's sister city Edogawa, the Japanese garden is a popular spot for people to relax and find their zen. Children will have fun playing with the ducks and koi in the ponds. You are allowed to feed the koi with food purchased from the shop inside. Entry to the garden is free. Bags of fish food to feed the koi are $1 each.
- 4 Gosford Regional Gallery, 36 Webb St, East Gosford, ☏ +61 2 4304 7550. Daily 9:30AM-4PM. The art gallery hosts both local and international exhibitions in a variety of styles. There is a small shop within the gallery that sells local artworks, books, ceramics, and other related items. Entry is free though donations are welcome.
- 5 Pelican Feeding, 129 The Entrance Rd, The Entrance NSW 2261. The town named itself 'The Pelican Capital of Australia' in 1999, with a specially constructed platform with daily feeds.
- 6 The Skillion (Terrigal Formation). A hikeable lookout point with gorgeous views of the steep cliffs and coastline.
- 7 Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre, 11 Terrigal Dr, ☏ +61 2 4349 4756, email@example.com. Daily 10AM-4PM. Science-based exhibits and interactive activities. Child or concession $7, adult $10.
- Governor Philip Memorial
- 8 Bouddi National Park.
- 9 Dharug National Park.
- Brisbane Water National Park
- Wyrrabalong National Park. This national park preserves one of the last few remaining coastal rainforests of the Central Coast.
- The Australian Reptile Park is one of the best wildlife parks in Australia and is 3 km from Gosford in Somersby. This park is situated amongst bushland and attracts many tourists and locals, and is also known as one of several featured locations in the Australian TV series Bondi Vet and its spinoffs. It has many Australian animals including crocodiles, snakes, wombats, Tasmanian devils, kangaroos and emus, which are not fenced! There are also daily crocodile and bird shows. To get there by public transport get a taxi from Gosford station. There is no local bus service to the park. Some tour coaches operate.
- The Australian Rainforest Sanctuary at the Forest of Tranquility is a true rainforest in Northern Sydney suburbs, with true humid climate, nice walks, wallabies running around and rare birds occasionally showing up. $12/adult.
- Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures, 69 Cooks Road, Peats Ridge (20 min drive from Gosford), ☏ +61 2 4375 1222. Glenworth Valley has many outdoor activities to participate in. Horse riding, kayaking, quad biking, and abseiling are the main activities, but others are offered. You can usually do up to two in a day, one in the morning and another in the afternoon.
- Wamberal beach. Considered one of the best on the NSW east coast.
- Forrester's Beach. Renowned for its clear seawater and truly breathtaking view. If you are not particularly enthused by saltwater, freshwater swimming pools are available in facilities around the beach. Golf courses and mini golf courses, tennis courts, bowling, and shopping facilities are also available in the area. The national park is also close to the beach.
- 1 Pelican Feeding, 129 The Entrance Rd, The Entrance. The town named itself 'The Pelican Capital of Australia' in 1999, with a specially constructed platform with daily feeds.
- 2 The Entrance Winter Blues & Jazz Festival, Memorial Park, The Entrance.
- 3 The Entrance Winter Blues & Jazz Festival, Memorial Park, The Entrance.
- 4 Terrigal Beach, 81 Terrigal Esplanade. An unbroken beach that extends for 4 km (2.5 mi). Good for surfing and boating and surrounded by cafes. Dogs are not allowed. It can get overcrowded. The rock pool in the southern end is popular among kids.
- Central Coast Reef and Game Fishing Charters, Fishermans Beach, The Haven, ☏ +61 427 665 544, firstname.lastname@example.org. Game and reef fishing.
- Annual oyster festival. Held mid November
- Spike Fest. An annual festival celebrating the life and works of comedian Spike Milligan
Whilst the centre of Gosford doesn't offer a lot of interesting shops, there are two large shopping centres nearby. Buses from Gosford and most areas of the Central Coast travel regularly (albeit not always so frequently) to Erina Fair, which contains many mid-range clothing shops, hairdressers, coffee shops, newsagents, department stores, shoe shops, fast food outlets, restaurants and bookshops. There is also a library, gym, cinema and ice rink on the grounds. A similar shopping centre is found at Tuggerah although it is smaller and has less facilities than at Erina Fair.
- 1 Lakeside Shopping Centre, The Entrance Rd. M-F 7AM-8PM, Sa-Su 7AM-10PM.
- GPK Erina, Erina Fair, Erina.
- 1 Rhonda's Bar & Restaurant, 3-5 Kurrawyba Ave, ☏ +61 2 4385 3100, email@example.com. Authentic Italian restaurant and fancy cocktail bar. Wood-fired pizza and a good variety of pasta options. If you go during the weekends, you can sit in the rooftop alfresco space.
- K.B. Thai Takeaway
- Pelicans Restaurant
- Wasana Thai Restaurant
- Pearls on the Beach
- Woy Woy Fisherman's Wharf
- Woy Woy Gourmet Pizza
- Naman's Kitchen Restaurant
- The Fish Hut
- 2 The Grand Pavilion, 46 Picnic Parade, Ettalong Beach, ☏ +61243417234, firstname.lastname@example.org. Dinner W-M 5-10PM, lunch Th-Su 11:30AM–2PM, closed Tu. An Indian restaurant that serves a variety of exceptional quality Indian food which is freshly prepared. They provide excellent food services and also keep their prices pretty economical. Delivery available at dinner.
- 1 Golden Gate Cafe, 195 The Entrance Rd, The Entrance NSW 2261, ☏ +61 2 4332 2142.
- 2 The Lakes Hotel, 201 The Entrance Rd, The Entrance, ☏ +61 2 4332 2166. Pub and hotel from the 1940s.
- 3 Bayview Hotel, 2 The Boulevarde, ☏ +61 2 4341 2088. The Bayview Hotel is located right near the water and can be seen on your approach, by train or car, from Gosford. It is a popular drinking hole for locals and is typical of many Australian pubs.
- El Lago Waters Resort, 41 The Entrance Road, The Entrance, toll-free: 1300 664 554. 90 minutes drive north of Sydney, El Lago Waters Resort offers a very special blend of location, luxury and enviable lifestyle. Right in the heart of The Entrance, El Lago Waters is a place to unwind, catch up with friends, be energetic or simply relax. Best rates on official website start at $120.
- Quay West Resort Magenta Shores, 1 Magenta Drive, ☏ +61 2 4352 8100. Central Coast accommodation only 90 minutes North of Sydney. Quay West Resort Magenta Shores is nestled between the pristine waters of the Pacific Ocean and Tuggurah Lake. Golf and spa make for your prefect weekend getaway.
As in many populated coastal areas of Australia, there are many homeowners who rent their houses to holiday makers on a weekly basis. As a guide, a four-bedroom house might rent for a short term price of $700-1500 per week. Local real estate agents usually organise the holiday rentals.
- Galaxy Motel, ☏ +61 2 4323 1711. Part of Gosford RSL.
- Apollo Resort Wamberal, 871 The Entrance Road, Wamberal, ☏ +61 2 4385 2099. Apollo Resort Wamberal has resort-style accommodation at Wamberal. It is set on five acres of tranquil gardens and surrounding bushland.
- Forrester's Resort Wedding and Conference Centre, 960 The Entrance Rd, Forresters Beach, ☏ +61 2 4384 1222, fax: +61 2 4385 3108. A scenic hour's drive from Sydney and set on two acres of tropical gardens. Best rates on official website start at $85.
- 1 The Entrance Hotel, 87 The Entrance Rd, The Entrance NSW 2261, ☏ +61 2 4332 2001.
- 2 Crowne Plaza Terrigal Pacific, Pine Tree Ln, ☏ +61 2 4384 9111. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Has an outdoor heated pool, fitness centre and 3 restaurants. From $300.
- Watersedge Motel, 18-22 The Boulevarde, ☏ +61 2 4341-2888, email@example.com. Cheap accommodation but not very clean. You get what you pay for. Some rooms have a water view.
- Patonga Beach Caravan and Camping Area, Bay St, Patonga, ☏ +61 2 4325 8486.
- Patonga Caravan and Camping Area, Bay St, Patonga, ☏ +61 2 4379 1287.
The central coast is between Newcastle to the north and Sydney to the south. Heading out west over the Mangrove Mountains is somewhat challenging, but the Central West awaits.
- Travel to Sydney's Northern Beaches on the Palm Beach ferry and go walking in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
|Routes via Central Coast|
|Sydney ← Brooklyn ←||SSW M1 NNE||→ Newcastle → Port Macquarie|