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Central Coast NSW

Where is the Central Coast region?

AvocaThe region begins on the northern banks of the Hawkesbury River, which works as the border of the Central Coast and the Sydney region. By road from the Sydney CBD you'll reach the southernmost towns of Patonga and Umina in about 90 minutes - the freeway has to first skirt around the bulk of the Brisbane Water National Park before allowing you head to the southern tip of the Central Coast. The 120 kilometre drive from the Sydney CBD to the northernmost town of the region, Nords Wharf, will take about two hours. Gosford, the commercial capital of the region, is 75 kilometres from Sydney.

What are the main towns?

Bodies of water dominate the region, and it is around these that many of the main towns, of both interest and size, are clustered. To the south, kissed by the waters of the Hawkesbury River and Broken Bay, are Patonga, Pearl Beach and Umina. Slightly to the north is Brisbane Water, around which are Ettalong, Woy Woy and Gosford.

East of Brisbane Water we return to the Pacific coast, with Killcare, MacMasters Beach, Copacabana, Avoca Beach, Terrigal, Bateau Bay and Toowoon Bay. This brings us to Tuggerah Lake and Budgewoi Lake, bordered by The Entrance, Long Jetty, Gorokan, Toukley, and Budgewoi, with Norah Head on the coast to the east of the lake.

North of Budgewoi Lake is Lake Munmorah and the huge expanse of Lake Macquarie, and the neighbouring regions of the Lower North Coast and the Hunter Valley.

Where should I stay?
The Central Coast is a holiday playground with plenty of accommodation, ranging from budget to five star. Whatever your accommodation requirements on the Central Coast, Travelmate is sure to have something perfect.

Things to do and see

While the Central Coast is not a large region, it is packed with a wealth of natural beauty, points of interest and activities.

The region's length of coastline is home to many fine beaches, which range from quiet to busy, the towns that fringe them ranging from small villages to cosmopolitan oases. Patonga is one of the quiet spots, as is the neighbouring Pearl Beach. The adventurous might like to try body surfing at Pearl Beach - with the water very quickly going from deep to shallow the ride only lasts a second or so, the ride consists of you catching the wave, almost immediately doing a half-somersault and landing on your feet on the beach sands. Just north of Pearl Beach are Umina Beach, Ocean Beach and Ettalong Beach, all of which are popular and safe. There are also plenty of boat ramps and boat hire businesses in the area for you to explore, fish and enjoy the Brisbane Water.

Crossing the The Rip Bridge, and following Empire Bay Drive we arrive at The Scenic Road, the beginning of a long stretch of roads that take you close by the coast for the 33 kilometres from Killcare to The Entrance. The Scenic Road travels through and on the fringe of Bouddi National Park, where you can go bushwalking, camping, fishing or swimming - try Tallow Beach, Maitland Bay, Bouddi Point or Little Beach, to name but a few. North of Bouddi National Park are MacMasters Beach and Copacabana, great for surfing, though with their waves and strong rips swimmers should, as always when they are present, stay between the flags. Copacabana does have a rock pool for the kids, and both beaches have a good range of places to buy food, find a spot and enjoy the outlook. Also at Copacabana is the Captain Cook Lookout, offering outstanding views of the coast.

North of Copacabana is Avoca Beach and North Avoca Beach, separated by Bulbaring Bay and Avoca Lake. Avoca Beach is popular, and patrolled, though sections of the beach can be tricky for swimmers, so the flags should be adhered to. Explore the lake on watercraft such as aqua bikes, canoes, sailboards and surf skis, all available for hire. The Central Coast has changed a lot in the last 20 years, and no place typifies this change more than Terrigal. Once a sleepy but beautiful beachside village, it is now a resort town - where was a small pub is now an ultra-modern accommodation palace, plus there are cafes, restaurants, day spas and boutiques... modern, cosmopolitan trappings and a lovely, Norfolk Pine-fringed beach to boot!

Continuing north along the coast, passing Wamberal, brings us to Wyrrabalong National Park, where another excellent coastal aspect can be viewed from the Crackneck Point Lookout. North of the park is Bateau Bay, with Shelley Beach and Toowoon Bay a little further on. The beach at Toowoon Bay is horseshoe-shaped and safe, though care should be taken when swimming near the southern end. Opposite the beach is a picnic reserve, with shelters and a children's playground.

Only a couple of kilometres on is The Entrance, the aptly named town sitting at the entrance of Tuggerah Lake, and which has long been a favourite escape for Sydneysiders. The town has recently enjoyed a $15 million makeover, with plenty to divert you. There is a good selection of shops, cafes and restaurants, some with fine lake and ocean outlooks, and the Memorial Park and lake foreshore is a hub of activities. Try to catch the daily pelican feeding at 3.30, just near the bridge on the ocean side. Those that fish have a wide choice of fishing here, ocean, beach and lake, and there are plenty of boat ramps, boat hire and bait/tackle shops. Over the bridge, to The Entrance North, the Wyrrabalong National Park recommences, so both to the north and the south of town there is plenty of nature to explore.

Driving down the narrow strip past The Entrance North, with water close by on both sides, you come to one of the longest beaches in the region, at 6 kilometres in length, the secluded Tuggerah Beach. This beach is not patrolled, is popular for fishing and surfing, however swimming is not recommended.

Fourteen kilometres on from The Entrance is our last little cluster of towns along the coast, Toukley, Norah Head and Budgewoi. The bridge in Toukley spans the meeting of Tuggerah Lake and Budgewoi Lake, while Budgewoi sits between Lake Budgewoi and Lake Munmorah - and all the while the Pacific Ocean is close by. Fishing, boating, surfing, swimming - all the usual coastal suspects, and all very much on offer here. Solidiers Beach near Norah Head deserves special mention, great for surfers and swimmers alike.

The Central Coast it may well be called, but there is much on offer inland as well. At Calga Springs Sanctuary 170 acres of bushland has been fenced off to keep out feral animals, allowing you a look at the land in pristine and balanced state. There is a 2 kilometre walking trail, and trained guides can walk you though the habitat, with animals including eastern grey kangaroos, swamp wallabies, red necked wallabies, pademelons, wombats, ring tailed and brush tailed possums, bandicoots, parma wallabies, emus, sulphur crested cockatoos, wattlebirds, kookaburras, magpies, finches, honeyeaters, wood ducks and many others. The sanctuary is on Peats Ridge Road, in Calga - take the Calga, Peats Ridge exit off the F3.

A long-established Central Coast attraction is the Australian Reptile Park, located on the Pacific Highway in Somersby. In addition to large reptiles, such as American alligators, giant tortoises and pythons, other animals on display include platypus, koalas, wombats, Tasmanian devils, echidnas, dingoes, spiders and of course friendly hand-fed kangaroos. New exhibits to see are the Lost World of Reptiles and Spider World.

The proximity of the Central Coast makes it an ideal day trip from Sydney and Newcastle, but there is plenty there for you to do should you decide to take a longer break.

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