WELCOME TO THE CENTRAL COAST :: NEW SOUTH WALES
THE CENTRAL COAST OF NSW IS A PLACE OF OUTSTANDING NATURAL BEAUTY, BUT IT DOESN'T QUITE GET THE RESPECT THAT IT DESERVES... It is true: many tourists zoom right past the place, on their way to more enticing attractions to the north. It is true: when I lived here as a child, I couldn't wait to get out. Some people call the Central Coast "Mt Druitt by the sea", perhaps with good reason. Many refugees from western Sydney have moved up here over the years, to escape the high costs and multiculturalizaton of their city. Legendary British comedian Spike Milligan, whose mother lived in Woy Woy, once described this as "the only graveyard in the world where the dead live above ground". Well, haters are going to hate, and nobody used to hate the Central Coast, more than myself. This page here is an attempt of contrition...
PATONGA BEACH | 33 ° 55' S 151 ° 27' E
LET'S IMAGINE we are travelling from the south to the north, the way a visitor from Sydney might move. This is also bound to the direction I take, when the Escape from Oz finally begins. You can't get any further south, habitation wise, than Patonga Beach. Its name is apparently derived from an Aboriginal word for "oyster", and it is located near the mouth of the Hawkesbury River, which is a hotbed of oyster farming.
While it may have had a working class past, these days Patonga Beach is a rather exclusive community with more than its fair share of New Age spiritualists and Yoga fanatics. It is secluded, but that is part of the appeal. There is a road here of course but for the more adventurous, you could try walking from Pearl Beach, through the national park pictured above. Alternatively, catch a ferry from Palm Beach or Brooklyn. Stay at the Boathouse, which also offers fine dining.
PEARL BEACH | 33 ° 54' S 151 ° 30' E
NORTHEAST OF PEARL Beach, on Broken Bay, lies Pearl Beach. It is quite possibly the most affluent suburb of the Central Coast LGA, and certainly the leafiest. On the Central Coast, it appears, the more southerly you live, the wealthier (and more socially sophisticated) you are. Check out these multimillion dollar houses on Coral Crescent!
My Mum reckons that Andrew Denton has a home here, amongst the boulders...
UMINA | 33 ° 51' S 151 ° 31' E
WHILE PEARL Beach is high-end, if you venture north over or around the headland with its numerous strewn stones, you enter a completely new domain.
Umina apparently means "place of sleep" in the Darkinjung tongue, and it's a well-earnt name. Eric Worrell used to run an aquarium here, before he set up the Reptile Park in Somersby. The beach does not front the ocean directly, so the waves are not massive. Nonetheless, it is a beach I know well, and have walked along many times, when I was visiting my folks. I smoked joints furtively in the dunes there, shielding my cigarette lighter from the breeze, before returning home to enjoy my buzz. Ocean Beach Holiday Resort: Sydney Avenye, Umina Beach. Website: website here.
At the southern edge of the beach, the Ocean Beach Holiday Resort has been drawing families for decades with its offer of oldschool fun and frivolity. Accommodation choices range from tents and caravans to more comfortable apartments and villas.
There is an outdoor cinema, BMX track, at least two swimming pools and a sprinkler, and game centres for the kids.
ETTALONG | 33 ° 54' S 151 ° 30' E
KINCUMBER | 33 ° 47' S 151 ° 39' E
KINCUMBER IS A SUBURB on Avoca Drive, just past the turnoff to Davistown and Saratoga. It has its own Coles, pub and the obligatory Rajdhani Indian restaurant. There is a fried chicken place too, called Phat Chicken as I recall, as well as a fruit shop that has a cafe inside of it. From Kincumber, one can access four beaches, some of them famous even on a national level: Terrigal, Avoca, Copacabana and McMasters Beaches. Most of these beaches have their own lagoons. On the way to Avoca, you will see Shady Palms, a modern Italian venue, on the righthand side. A few hundreds meters down the road is the Saltwater Bar and Bistro.
AVOCA BEACH | 33 ° 25' S 151 ° 20' E
ONE OF Australia's legendary surf beaches, Avoca Beach sits between Copacabana Beach, and Terrigal. The hills around here are quite bluffy, which makes walking a challenge. Better to drive your own Tesla here, as my friend Garnet Mae did -- or even better, let the Tesla drive you!.
Point Cafe: Avoca Beach Surf Life Saving Club. Phone: (02) 4382 2766. Website: website here.
I enjoyed brunch here with Garnet and his family in the summer of 2021/22. There were the obligatory mango smoothies, crab tacos, and steak sandwiches, etc. It is very close to the theatre, and the Captain Cook Lookout, from which the skyscrapers of Sydney can be seen, as well as the smoke clouds of Wollongong and the South Coast.
GOSFORD | 33 ° 25' S 151 ° 20' E
GOSFORD COMES across as a city on the go. All around town, construction work is carrying on. There is a wealth of heritage sandstone to be sure, and a history dating back to the convict days. Nonetheless, Gosford's eyes are framed forwards, towards a glorious future... (For my complete guide to Gosford, !)
EAST OF GOSFORD on the way to Terrigal, Erina is the retail hub of the Central Coast. Unlike Gosford, this suburb was designed for cars. Nonetheless, I have explored it on foot and by bus, dodging all the traffic pulling in and out of carparks, finding dental clinics, Persian rug emporiums, and wholesalers of all descriptions. Taking the The Entrance turnoff at Erina, one passes through the suburb of Erina Heights. The land originally belonged to William Bean in 1824, who noted that the region was heavily timbered with "trees of gigantic height", such as blue gums, blackbutts, and so on. The area became an important source of hardwood once the Sydney building boom began. Take the Terrigal turnoff, on the other hand, and you might pass a scene like this:
Neale Joseph Fine Art Gallery: 1 Old Tuggerah Beach Road, Erina Heights. Phone: (02) 4367 3777.
Wildflower Place: 453 The Entrance Rd, Erina Heights. Phone: 02/4365 5510
TERRIGAL | 33 ° 27' S 151 ° 21' E
TERRIGAL IS PROBABLY the closest thing there is to "Gosford's beach". The sand here is an orange-golden hue, which changes to a greyish colour further north. I have no idea why that happens. The local landmark, the Skillion headland, is a geological marvel dating back to the Triassic Era... (For my complete guide to Terrigal, !)
LISAROW | 33 ° 22' S 151 ° 22' E
TRAVELLING NORTH from Gosford, the wayfarer twists and turns through a number of residential suburbs, genteel valleys hemmed in by rugged hills. At Lisarow, a road appropriately known as the Ridgway branches off to traverse the highlands. Tall trees, some possibly dating from the days of William Bean, explode from every bend, along with the occasional view of Tuggerah Lake. Eventually, the Ridgeway descends to Tumbi Umbi. If, however, you stick to the highway or the railway, your next big stop will be Ourimbah.
OURIMBAH | 33 ° 22' S 151 ° 22' E
HALFWAY BETWEEN Gosford and Wyong is the old township of Ourimbah. Intersected as it is with roads and railways, it seems a bit like a byways, rather than an authentic village. Which is a pity, but there are still some relics of the settler days if you look hard enough. There is a TAFE college, and a campus of Newcastle University. There is a cemetery nearby, where some of my ancestors lie in peace. See Off Campus for some ideas on student accommodation in Ourimbah. The Lodge is a long-running share house... it even has its own website! Lee Rowan's Gardenworld: Website: website here.
My brother used to work here back in the day, when they had a different name. Now part of Lee Rowan's empire, it is close to Big Flower, another nursery. Plants is what they do. There is a showroom selling synthetic grass, whoopy cushions, and even socks, and a a café where you can get the usual Aussie café fare, such as Smartie cookies. The staff are friendly enough, and there the last time I visited, a charming sparrow helped me complete my cookie. My brother told me that they frequently hold wakes here for mourners from Palmdale Cemetery...
In the "Rose Garden" section lies my grandfather Herb, my grandmother Ivy, and her sister "Aunty" Olive.
BERKELY VALE | 33 ° 34' S 151 ° 43' E
FOLLOWING ENTERPRISE Drive from Ourimbah, you will eventually reach Berkeley Vale, on the southern shore of Tuggerah Lake. Every month or two I have been visiting Dr Goripati to receive his wisdom, at the private hospital here. There is a reconstructed wetland, and restoration works on the foreshore. Driving east, Lakedge Avenue will eventually take you to Tumbi Umbi, a light industrial precinct. On the other side of Wyong Road lies the Mingara Recreation Club, one of the local institutions. Chittaway Bay Tavern: 100 Chittaway Rd, Chittaway Bay. Website: website here.
Mingara Recreation Club: 12-14 Mingara Drive, Tumbi Umbi. Phone: (02) 4349 7799. Website: website here.
Quite possibly the largest sports club in the former Wyong Shire, Mingara Recreation Club is built close to Tumbi Umbi Creek on Wyong Road. It is like a precinct all of its own with enormous gym and swimming pool, bars, restaurants and dancehalls. Dr Sturm has his practice at Mingara Health, a short distance from the club. I visit him once a year to receive his wisdom on my supposed Huntington's Disease.
THE ENTRANCE | 33 ° 20' S 151 ° 29' E
SITUATED ON the mouth of Tuggerah Lake north of Terrigal east of Berkeley Vale, The Entrance is one of the classic seaside towns that you can find in this part of the world. It is called The Entrance, presumably, because it sits astride the outlet of Tuggerah Lake, where the lake enters the ocean (or vice versa). Domestic tourists abound, many from Sydney; Lebanese and Koreans are common in the summer months, and you can buy their food in the local Coles... (For the full guide to The Entrance, ).
TUGGERAH | 33 ° 30' S 151 ° 41' E
TUGGERAH IS a smaller version of Erina with a Westfield and cinema, railway station, business parks and car yards. It is located close to the M1 motorway, and the expanding housing estates of Warnervale. West of the railway line between Tuggerah and the Wyong River stretches the former Pioneer Dairy farm, now restored as a wetlands teeming with birds.
WYONG | 33 ° 28' S 151 ° 42' E
WYONG IS built on the banks of the everbrown Wyong River, which provides much of the volume of Tuggerah Lake. Like Ourimbah and Gosford, Wyong dates back to the settler days. This town is proud of its history and is trying to bring it back to life. Gentrification is the latest fad: old banks are being converted into cafes or gourmet pizzerias. There is a courthouse, a railway station, and a couple of pubs. Down on their luck Kooris ask for cash on the street.
There used to be a council here, but that has been disbanded in the pursuit of progress. The courthouse is still working and it attracts a small legion of lawyers. The annual show at the Wyong Racecourse, meanwhile, is one of the social highlights of the region. Love Lanes is held every February with a link to Valentine's Day (although the last one I attended was in April, go figure!) Old Mate's Kitchen: 1/142 Pacific Highway, Wyong. Phone: (0487) 869785. Wesbite: website here.
This is a (pandemic allowing) licensed restaurant and grocery store stocked with South African food, located near Aldi on the way to Watanobbi. You can buy spice for rice, ... Items on the menu include Durban curry, which is curiously served in a hollowed out loaf of bread, Russian sausage and chips, and Mozambique prawns. Wyong Bowling Club: 3 Panonia Road, Wyong. Phone: (02) 4356 2260. Website: website here.
Part of the Wyong Rugby League Club Group, this venue has possibly the cheapest beer on the coast. As of September 2020, a schooner of Victoria Bitter went for $3.50. There are discounted meals most nights of the week, including beef rendang, and lamb korma.
TYPICAL MODERN Australian suburban shopping centre built on the road to Toukley. There is a fish and chips shop there which seems to do a decent trade. The last time I visited with my parents just before Christmas we did pies instead. As is typical in Australia these days, they stuff a lot of things into pies. Even kangaroo meat if you are lucky.
GOROKAN | 33 ° 25' S 151 ° 51' E
IF YOU TRAVELED around the northern reaches OF THE WYONG SHIRE BEFORE 2017, YOU WOULD HAVE SURELY NOTICED THE TWIN TOWERS OF THE LAKE MUNMORAH POWER STATION, WHICH RISE GREY OVER THE GREYGREEN SCRUB. They were a local landmark, until their demolition.
IF YOU TRAVELED AROUND THE NORTHERN REACHES OF THE WYONG SHIRE BEFORE 2017, YOU WOULD HAVE SURELY NOTICED THE TWIN TOWERS OF THE LAKE MUNMORAH POWER STATION, WHICH RISE GREY OVER THE GREYGREEN SCRUB. They were a local landmark, until their demolition.
| There seems to be a few suburbs up here with "haven" in the name (Charmhaven, Blue Haven, etc.) Coles and Woolworths, and also an Aldi. Buses with a "90" number go north, while those from 70 to 80 go south. Busways #95 goes to Morisset, via Lake Munmorah, and also visits Gwandalan and Summerland Point on the way... an epic two-hour journey. I tried to take the trip in early 2020 but was defeated by my anxiety. . .
TOUKLEY | 33 ° 16' S 151 ° 32' E
TOUKLEY IS A PLACE where I have worked, walked, dreamed and contemplated for myself a life in distant realms. My first job was at the now defunct Wyong Shire Advocate in the mid 1990s. I had bailed out too early on my working holiday in London due to homesickness, and regretted abandoning that concrete jungle. Compared to London, Toukley was insanely quite... and geriatric too! All I wamted to do was escape. Returning in 2011, I was astounded to find that it hadn't really changed that much. The newspaper was gone, but the brick office it occupied was still pretty much the same. That charcoal chicken and chips joint, the sandwich bar near Coles, they were still there (and probably, still are now!) Beachcomber Resort: 200 Main Road, Toukley. Phone: (02) 4397 1300. Website: website here.
At one point in the 10s, this was ranked the second-most violent venue in New South Wales. A nightclub with sand on the floor, topless hostesess on a Friday... who would ask for more? Kaibigan Emporium: 319 Main Road, Toukley. Phone: (02) 4397 3042.
There seems to be a micro Filipino community in Toukley, and this emporium is one of their shopping haunts. It is like a little piece of south east Asia, stacked with strange and colourful products.... (For my full WOMO review, click here.) Trinhy's Vietnamese: 266 Main Road, Toukley. Website: website here.
Trinhy's started as a foodtruck in Sydney, but now has a restaurant in Toukley (as of 2019). You can drink Bia Saigon, or oldstyle Viet coffee, with the condensed milk shit and all. I had that, and spring rolls, while watching some promotional videos about Vietnam on their restaurant TV.
YARRAMALONG | 33 ° 22' S 151 ° 28'
YARRAMALONG VALLEY cracks fractally through the north-west reaches of the Central Coast, following the course of Wyong River. It is genteel country, dotted with horses, turf farms, home of TreeTops Adventure Park, which is located in the Ourimbah State Forest. It is just across the road from the Yarramalong Valley Horse Farm Stay, a popular wedding venue. While kids might be inclined to dangle from the trees, adults are drawn to the bushwalking and camping opportunities in the area: it took Marek Blas one hour and 37 minutes to complete the Ourimbah State Forest Loop. This is the original "Happy Valley" territory, and one might stumble upon a possible illegal Rave party while wandering around. is is just one festival oany. For a more comprehensive list of Australian festivals and events, Yarramalong Road finally splits into two options, Brush Creek Road, and Ravensdale Road. Whichever way you choose, you will find another valley to explore.
The Wyee Nursery is said to be a good place to relax. They have conifers and talking cockatoos.
the port north at Newca said thus about Catherine Hill Bay: "Cathed by high hills and bushland the presence of the rusty iron and lifeless machinery inevitably colours the visitor