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. 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. My parents live up the road at Umina Beach looking across the bay to Lion Island and Palm Beach, the habitat of reclusive Sydney movie stars. Just as in Sydney, there is a snob factor at work at the Central Coast -- generally the more southerly you live, the wealthier (and more socially sophisticated you are). I used to think it was as boring as hell neighbourhood but I try to stay here at least once a year. I have lived at the other end of the coast too, up in the wild Wyong Shire, near the infamous caravan park at Tuggerawong. My parents at the time were running the discount grocery store there, and they had their fare share of run-ins with murders and other nefarious crimes. Here we go, from south to north, following the caravans of summer:
PEARL BEACH | 33 ° 54' 151 ° 30' 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. It is worth pointing out again: my parents live near Woy Woy at Umina Beach at the southernmost threshold of the Central Coast, just across the bay from Sydney's Palm Beach.
Check out these million dollar houses.
UMINA | 33 ° 51' 151 ° 31' E
YOU DRIVE NORTH ON THE ENTRANCE ROAD TO GET TO ERINA HEIGHTS. The land originally belonged to William Bean in 1824, who had been granted this stretch of paradise after his arrival in the colony of New South Wales. According to notes from the period, the land here was heavily timbered with "trees of gigantic height". Indeed, some of the tree stumps were so large they could be hollowed out and used as temporary sheds and homes. The area quicly became an important source of hardwood once the Sydney building boom began in the 1860s.
These days, Erina Heights offers visitors an old-world village atmosphere. Beyond the village, you will find remnants of the great hardwood forest that brought prosperity to the place a century ago. Here, among the shadows, is tranquility -- and a reminder of what once was.
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
GOROKAN | 33 ° 25' S 151 ° 51' E
TYPICAL MODERN AUSTRALIAN SUBURBAN SHOPPING CENTRE IN A SLIGHTLY ELEVATED LOCATION NEAR TUGGERAH LAKE, WYONG SHIRE. 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.
IF YOU TRAVELED AROUND THE NORTHERN REACHES OF THE WYONG SHIRE BEFORE 2017, YOU WOULD SURELY NOTICE THE TWIN TOWERS OF THE LAKE MUNMORAH POWER STATION, WHICH RISE GREY OVER THE GREYGREEN SCRUB. They were a local landmark, until their demolition.
THIS IS NOT ONLY ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND WILD AND PHOTOGENIC PARTS OF THE CENTRAL COAST, BUT IT IS ALSO A PLACE STEEPED IN THE WORKING CLASS HISTORY
THIS IS NOT REALLY THE CENTRAL COAST PER SE, BUT CLOSE ENOUGH TO VISIT IF YOU ARE COASTSIDE. In the days of the the Awabakal Aborigines who used to live here, this area was called Galgabba. It was said to be an ideal place to live with plenty of sea and fresh water fish, birds and animals to sustain upon.
When the white fellas came they called the area Pelican Flats (can you imagine why?) The present rather more genteel and pretentious name Swansea didn't come about until 1887 following the successful petition work of a local postmaster.
Situated on the mouth of Tuggerah Lake, The Entrance is one of the classic seaside towns that you can find in this part of the world... (For the full guide to The Entrance, click here.
TOUKLEY IS A PLACE IS USED TO WORK, WALK, DREAM, & CONTEMPLATE FOR MYSELF A LIFE IN DISTANT REALMS. Having now reached the distant realms, it is always interesting for me to go back there, and recall past days. As places go, it is a nice place to base yourself, if you want to dream of other worlds.
THE YARRAMALONG VALLEY OPENS LIKE A FRACTAL IN THE NORTH-WEST PART OF THE WYONG SHIRE... 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, click here.
--+- . Street markets are all the rage in Sydney, and Bondi Beach has its share. The Bondi Beach Market is held every Sunday in the grounds of Bondi Beach Public School (phone 02/9398 5486). At nearby Bondi Junction, a market is held from 10am-5pm in the Oxford Street Mall (phone 016/288 907.) There is also a night market held at Roscoe Mall on Campbell Pde, Thrusday-Sunday, from 5pm. The goods here are mainly cotten wear, jewellery and leather.
++-+ NIGHTLIFE. The daylife in Bondi centers around the beach, as it rightly shoref="http://homepage.ntlworld.com/ian.lloyd23/holiday/sydney/day2.htm">Brit Downunder hinted at the problem when he wrote:
--+- Canada, the Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland, Japan, Korea, Malta, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Cyprus, Italy, Belgium and France. Only applicants from these countries who are aged between 18 and 30 years and without dependent children are eligible to apply for a Working Holiday visa.
--+- If you have a working holiday visa, or are a student intending to work, you should obtain a tax file number (TFN). You can apply for this in person, or online at the Tax Office's website. --+- Backpacker jobs available in Australia include: Waiting in restaurants and bars, labouring and building work, shop assistant and retail jobs, nursing, nanny and cleaning services, office temping, fruit picking, and other farm work such as jackeroo'ing.
CATHERINE HILL BAY
THIS IS NOT ONLY ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND WILD AND PHOTOGENIC PARTS OF THE CENTRAL COAST, BUT IT IS ALSO A PLACE STEEPED IN THE WORKING CLASS HISTORY OF THE 19th CENTURY. The village is named after the Catherine Hill, a schooner wrecked here in 1867. Coal was discovered and mined by the New Wallsend Company which bought up the land, built a jetty and opened the mine in 1873. Back in those glory days about 1000 tons of coal a week were taken by horse-drawn skips from the mine to a loading chute on the jetty. That has all faded today -- but to my mind, there is nothing more enchanting than ghostruins from the past. Especially anywhere near the coast with its frequent salty gusts, any ruin is priceless. And Catherine Hill Bay is a ruin. Of a very friendly kind.
The last time I was there I took this photo from the nearby Munmorah National Park, which is a fabulous place with a retro Aussie beach holiday vibe. While we were there, watching the crows battle eagles in the sky, we were treated to an inpromptu flyover by Australian Air Force jets from the nearby air base. It seemed to be a particularly popular place for fishermen of all nationalities, and the seas off the rocks looked lethally strong and dangerous. Container ships sat patiently off the shore, waiting for their turn to fill up on minerals at the port north at Newcastle.
The Sydney Morning Herald said thus about Catherine Hill Bay: "Catherine Hill Bay is a quiet old mining village within the City of Lake Macquarie, 119 km north of Sydney via the Newcastle Freeway and the Pacific Highway. Despite the beauty of the bay and its attractive situation in a valley surrounded by high hills and bushland the presence of the rusty iron and lifeless machinery inevitably colours the visitor's perspective of the bay. Certainly Catherine Hill Bay has a very different feel to the gay, busy tourism-based towns of the Central Coast.
"The village is named after the Catherine Hill, a schooner wrecked here in 1867. Coal was discovered and mined by the New Wallsend Company which bought up the land, built a jetty and opened the mine in 1873. The coastal location facilitated shipment and avoided the bar at the entrance to Lake Macquarie. The enterprise employed 70-100 men, whose cottages, still lining the roadside, formed the basis of the nascent township. Approximately 1000 tons of coal a week was taken by horse-drawn skips from the mine to a loading chute on the jetty." Link this one -- the coastal photo ring.