Entranced by The EntranceESTABLISHED AT THE MOUTH OF TUGGERAH LAKE, THE ENTRANCE (33 ° 20' S 151 ° 29' E) IS ONE OF THOSE SCENIC SEASIDE TOWNS YOU SHOULD SEE ON THE LONG ROAD FROM SYDNEY TO BRISBANE. It is called The Entrance, presumably, because it sits astride the outlet of Tuggerah Lake, where the lake enters the ocean (or vice versa).
Life up here revolves around the elements: fishing, surfing, and boating are major pastimes. Every afternoon, hundreds of pelicans descend on the town for a free feed. The pelican is an emblem of the Central Coast, and you can see its likeness everywhere up here: as the logo of The Entrance Backpacker's Hostel, or a statue in someone's front yard. There are actually two coastlines here, one on the lake, and one on the ocean. The channel is the place they meet, where they kiss as Venetians might say. 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. The Red Bus service connects the town with other transport hubs, such as Tuggerah and Lake Haven. It is convenient to just jump on and off, and venture off in search of new adventures. And there are plenty of adventures, both north and south, east and west.
ActivitiesWATCH THE pelican feeding, at 3.30pm every day. Play mini golf at Putt n Fun, next to Royal Kebab on the high road. Hire a bicycle and ride it around the lake. There is an old cinema, and public swimming baths. Every October hot rod enthusiasts and swing dancers converge on the town for Chromefest, which I have attended a number of times. If you get sick of the place and long to leave, there are countless other worlds waiting to be explored at the CCVR Studio at the Diggers Club. You could take a ride in the ferris wheel pictured below, although I have never seen it actually working.
ShoppingTHE ENTRANCE is not a great place for shopping, at least compared to Long Jetty down the road. The shopping choices are rather scattered, to say the least. For some reason there is not one but two lolly stores in town, as well as some vintage suitcases and a couple of eclectic stores, bait and fishing gear outlets, and the like. Lollies and Stuff: 117 The Entrance Road, The Entrance. Phone: (02) 4333 7381. Website: website here.
Sells sweets from around the world, including Hersheys chocolates from the USA, sour chews and … Sachets of Kool Aid go for a couple of bucks. On my first visit here, I bought a can of Hemp energy drink which, unfortunately, did not contain any active cannabinoids. That's deceptive. Later on I bought some ginseng thing, which I have yet to guzzle.
AccommodationAS A TOURIST hotspot, The Entrance suffers no shortage of places to stay. The town abounds in caravan parks, motels, holiday rentals and apartments with names like the White Sails. There are, of course, plenty of Airbnb rooms available too, and I have stayed in one or two. There is a laundromat next to the Shahi Mahal restaurant, all shiny chrome, and another further towards Long Jetty, and one more in Long Jetty itself.. Budget Accommodation Central Coast: 4 Victoria Avenue, The Entrance. Phone: (02) 4334 1001. Website: website here.
Dorm rooms go for AUS$30 a night, which is about the same rate as the nearby youth hostel. For private rooms, it is about $70 a night. They seem to have their own bathrooms, but no TVs. Which is opposite the situation at the nearby Lakes Hotel. Lakes Hotel: 201 The Entrance Road, The Entrance. Phone: (02) 4332 2166. Website: website here.
One of the acclaimed local pubs, occupying a strategic intersection, which also offers pub-style accommodation. I stayed here one night in winter 2018, just to see if I could hack it. I was a little apprehensive since my room lacked air-con and it was a cold night. Alarmingly, there was only one thin blanket on the single bed, and I was afraid to ask for another one. I wrapped it around me as I watched the little TV set, drinking cans of VB. However, when it was finally time to turn off the light, put down the can, and snuggle into position, I didn't feel cold at all... that thin blanket was more than sufficient... (For my full WOMO review, click here.) Nesuto Serviced Apartments: 18 Coral Street, The Entrance. Phone: (02) 4334 8800. Website: website here.
Formerly known as Waldorf Apartments, Nesuto is a chain of serviced apartments with big aims for the Australian market. I was interested to try out their property at The Entrance, so I booked a studio there for 5 nights in February 2019. It was a tad outside my price range, but deductions on Hotels.com and Cash Rewards helped to pull it down a notch. I soon discovered that
When I checked into my apartment I felt somewhat guilty, because it was easily the most spacious that I have stayed in for a long time. There is a living room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom, all in fairly good condition..
Cable TV is available and I savoured the opportunity to watch things I have rarely get a chance to see, such as the History Channel. I haven't watched that since my Liberty House days! There were a few other interesting channels, but the History Channel became the stickiest (thus, a new Comfort Zone was born). There is 1GB of complementary wifi, which I value at about AUS$4. I don't know how fast it is because I never used it.
Ocean Front Motel: Blue Bay. Website: website here.
Right next to the Grant McBride Baths, and the blue stones of Blue Bay, where the sooty oysterbirds feed. The Entrance Backpackers: The Entrance Road, The Entrance. Website: website here.
The Entrance Motel: Long Jetty. Phone: (02) 4332 2226.
Cafes & RestaurantsYOU CAN find all the hipster favorites at The Entrance, such as avocado toast and croque monsieur, which I suppose is not really hipster, but is pretty haute nonetheless. More authentic is the fish and chips, and the old-style milkbars which have disappeared from Sydney, but can be found up here. Thai food is popular in The Entrance, as is Indian, and Mexican. Spice Affair is my favourite restaurant in town, and when I next have time, I will be returning there. Bang Rak Thai Restaurant: 107 The Entrance Road, The Entrance. Website: website here.
Serving roasted squid (pla muek yang), roasted duck and pineapple in red curry (gang phed ped yang), and a whole lot more. They appear to sell young coconuts too, which would go down a treat on a sultry summer's day.
Bistro Jinja: 12 The Entrance Road, The Entrance. Phone: (02) 4333 4999.
We went here for my 44th birthday. According to TripAdvisor, this was the number one restaurant in The Entrance. It was good, but not spicy enough for my tastes. We shared lamb massaman curry, squid salad, a seafood curry and other dishes. The Burrow Coffee House: Coral Street, The Entrance. Phone: 0423 454825.
I dined here with the Sydney Swing Kats during Chromefest 2018. Garnet ordered some muesli shit, while I got the Brittney Loves Ben meal for $19... (To read my full review on WOMO, click here.) Chi Cong Bakery: 221 The Entrance Road, The Entrance.
Vietnamese bread shop, with takeaway bánh mì thịt rolls comprising various fillings. I bought a standard pork roll one hot afternoon and ate it out on the street. It wasn't too bad.. Euro Bean Café & Espresso Bar: 119 The Entrance Road, The Entrance. Phone: 0412 808453. Facebook: Facebook page here.
Open from 6.30am to 5pm every day.
As the name suggests, this old-style café serves a range of European coffee (such as Greek Frappe iced coffee, and Espresso Freddo). At night they offer a beer and kebab combo which I might try one day. Fonzirelli Pizzeria: The Entrance Road, The Entrance. Phone: (02) 4333 6694. Website: website here.
Known for its margherita pizza for AUS$14.90 (small). Hernando's Hideaway: 374 The Entrance Road, Long Jetty.
The estafado de mariscos (featuring flathead, prawns and mussels) served here looks amazing, and I will try it if I can in
Meaning "the Two Dudes", or something like that. According to their page on MenuLog, their meals include enchiladas, fajitas and Mexican lasagne. Pizza Capers: Shop 8-10/35 Coral Street, The Entrance. Phone: (02) 4344 1477. Website: website here.
Pizza Capers is a chain with outlets lining my planned route from the Central Coast to Queensland, in places like Bundaberg and Mackay. I was first entranced, viewing their website, by their eclectic range of toppings including karaage and bánh mì, which I viewed online. They all looked cool, but I should have felt suspicious about the vast expanse of their menu... that is always a danger sign. The best restaurants in the world have just one dish, which they have mastered absolutely, and the larger the menu, the greater the recipe for disaster, in my experience at least. When I actually visited Pizza Capers at The Entrance, I was disappointed. The dude at the counter was rude, and they didn't have the Barcelona Seafood number which I wanted. I hastily switched over to a paella, which tasted bland. Pree Cha Thai Restaurant: 2a/147 The Entrance Road, The Entrance. Phone: (02) 4334 3193.
For many years while I was trapped in my agoraphobic bubble at Lake Haven, I dreamed of this restaurant, which I had walked past on a rare trip to The Entrance, and been enticed by an exotic whiff from the wok. I was with my parents at the time, so I didn't have a chance to sit down and eat something; besides, I would have been too anxious to enjoy it. One blustery August afternoon in 2018 I finally made it back to The Entrance and this time I flew solo. I ordered duck in yellow curry, which was okay, but nothing sensational. Six months later I returned again and this time my meal was slightly more memorable: I got the Yum Nua (beef salad) and a cup of Thai iced tea. It would have been nice if that salad had blown my head off, but it wasn't that spicy. The iced tea, however, tasted Asian and exotic. I will be back..
Saigon Chopsticks: The Entrance Road, The Entrance.
It was a wet and wintry day, and I had a few hours off between lessons at the Nesuto, where I was teachstaying. I was tempted to eat again at Pree Cha Thai, but thought I should try something new, since this would be my last day in town for a while, at least until ChromeFest 2019. I remembered that Saigon Chopsticks was reopening that very day, just a short walk up The Entrance Road, so I dropped in there. I was greeted with soft Vietnamese pop music on the speakers, and an array of Vietnamese items on the menu. Natsukashii na! I thought. It's been a long time. The owners had been away, and it seemed like the regular customers had missed them. I ordered phở (beef noodle soup), which came out piping hot and drowning in onions. Shahi Mahal: The Entrance Road, The Entrance. Website: website here.
The last time I checked, this place had 4.5 bubbles on Trip Advisor. Try the possibly Afghan style spicy Mahal chicken. This also may be the only place on the Central Coast serving Chindian (a mix of Chinese and Indian food). This is a type of food supposedly invented by the Hakka community in Calcutta. The cauliflower Gobi Manchurian looks good. I once ordered the Chilli Fish Indo China from Bollywood Indian Cuisine at Charmhaven, which I guess is Chindian... it tasted pukka enough. But I wanted something more authentic. Spice Affair: 41 The Entrance Road, The Entrance. Website: website here.
This restaurant is strangely located inside a motel (the El Lago Waters Resort) near the channel, and has a view of the swimming pool. Upon entering Spice Affair, I noticed that the owners appeared to be of South Indian appearance, and this thrilled me, since it is difficult to find South Indian food on the Central Coast. As I sat down I spotted a dead cockroach underneath my chair, but I didn't let it worry me, since I figured it was better than a live one. Presently the kind waitress presented me a menu and sure enough, it covered a variety of decidedly South Indian dishes, such as Soya chops... (to see my complete review on WOMO, click here.) The Entrance Hotel: 87 The Entrance Road, The Entrance. Phone: (02) 4332 2001. Website: website here.
Tired of the rowdy atmosphere at some other local pubs, I dropped in here one evening for a more upmarket experience. This is said to be the oldest pub at The Entrance, with nearly 100 years of history. Apart from the façade, however, there is not much of the original charm left, and the hotel has something of a Disneyfied feel. The wine menu features Aussie favourites like Sauvignon blanc, Merlot and Shiraz... (to see my complete review on WOMO, click here.)
Long JettyONCE UPON a time, ferries from Wyong used to dislodge passengers here, a few kilometres south of The Entrance. Since Tuggerah Lake is so shallow, they needed to construct extremely long jetties to accommodate them. Thus, the name "Long Jetty" was born. The ferries stopped running, and the suburb fell into neglect. Recently the precinct has been reborn as a hipster haven, with all the entailing obsession on "authenticity". At Long Jetty you can find a Darrell Lea chocolate store, music cafe, hemp supplies store and even a yoga café. There is no shortage of crystals for those who believe in their mystical powers. Glass Onion Society: 308 The Entrance Road, Long Jetty. Website: website here.
The Glass Onion is a symbol of the revitalization of the Long Jetty. I visited here at lunchtime recently and the café was quite crowded with a young and stylish clientele. (To read my full review on WOMO, click here.) The Raw Deal: 7/314-316 The Entrance Road, Long Jetty.
Stocks raw kombucha, ginger turmeric and Royal Jelly from Kangaroo Island. Made in Hemp: 387 The Entrance Road, Long Jetty. Phone: (02) 4334 2000. Website: website here.
Long Jetty is catching on to the green wave, and this store sells all things related to hemp: clothes, homeware, body and hair care products, and even herbal medicines. I bought 2 bars of hemp oil soap on a recent visit, which cost me $7 each. Next time I go there I want to get some hemp seeds or hemp oil, which is considered a superfood... (to see my full review on WOMO, click here.) Savoy Bar: Long Jetty. Facebook: Facebook page here.
Long Jetty is reinventing itself as the "Boho" (Bohemian) heart of the Central Coast, and it is starting to develop a hipster vibe to compete with Terrigal further down the coast. The Savoy Bar occupies the site of an old cinema which has been restored, in the full hipster tradition... Sorry Grandma Shop: Long Jetty. Website: website here.
This is where I bought my Great Gatsby outfit back in 2013, when this was was the rage. I believe the store has moved across the road.
Yoga Café: 310A The Entrance Road, Long Jetty. Phone: (02) 4311 6400. Website: website here.
This facility comprises a meditation hall, gift shop and a café set inside a beautiful "Zen garden" in the centre of Long Jetty. It seems to be a hangout for the local yoga community, and hosts regular lectures and events. I came here with my cousin and her Schnoodle Poopy in March 2019, and found the place to be dog-friendly... (To read my full review on WOMO, click here.) ong Jetty