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19 Top Things To Do On The Central Coast Of NSW

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Our home town is Woy Woy on the Central Coast of New South Wales. It’s tucked away on a peninsula, just over an hour north of Sydney.

It’s a popular holiday destination and a great base to explore all the popular things to do in the Central Coast NSW region.

Growing up there allowed us to explore this region in more depth that a typical traveler, but it wasn’t until we returned on our 18 month Australian road trip that we appreciated it from a tourist’s perspective.

We left the Central Coast region with peace and gratitude and a healthy love for our home region. It’s truly beautiful, and one of the best kept secrets in Australia.

We’re excited to share with you some of the top attractions on the Central Coast that we enjoyed visiting growing up here. This is our home, we hope you love it as much as we do!

Things to Do in Central Coast NSW

1. Arrive in style by ferry from Palm Beach to Ettalong Beach

people on Ferry to Palm Beach from Ettalong (5)
Arriving to Ettalong

If you are coming for a day trip from Sydney, we recommend jumping on a ferry from Palm Beach to Ettalong.

It only takes 20 minutes and the scenery is really beautiful. You’ll cruise on in past Box head, which if the waves are pumping, is the place to surf on the Peninsula.

Or, arrive by train from Sydney (1 hour). It’s a picturesque and serene journey past the Hawksberry River.

2. Visit Secluded Pearl Beach

pearl beach central coast

Pearl Beach is where a lot of celebrities and wealthy Sydney Siders come to visit. There’s a peaceful and spiritual energy at Pearlie. It has the most beautiful outlook across to Lion’s Island and Palm Beach.

Head to the ocean rock pool on the southern end of the beach, for a quieter, more bushlike setting. If you want a bit more adventure, take a hike on the old fire trail for beautiful views out over the Hawkesbury River.

This is one of the best things to do on the Central Coast – local’s favorite.

3. Picnic at Somersby Falls

father and two kids in front of Somersby waterfall

Somersby Falls made the local radio stations’ “top 50 local secrets” list of things to do on the Central Coast.

It’s a lovely spot for a picnic and a scenic walk. It’s no Victoria Falls, but makes for a great half day out.

Somersby Falls cascading over rocks

4. Visit the Central Coast Wildlife Parks

goanna at Australian Reptile Park

The Central Coast has two great Wildlife Parks. The Australian Reptile Park is quite an Australian icon and one of the Central Coast’s most popular attractions. This park was founded by the great Eric Worrell, Australia’s first naturalist. 

The Reptile Park is the only zoo in Australia committed to saving lives with a Venom-Milking Program in place for the past 50+ years. There are plenty of wildlife shows and chances to interact with the animals. They have quite an extensive range of Australian animals.

The latest is the Australian Walkabout Wildlife Park a little more personal and interactive + it’s the only time I’ve ever patted a dingo. It’s home to mostly native Australian animals such as koala and kangeroos.

They also have Aboriginal walks through the surrounding bush, and night safari sleep overs, which sound pretty cool.

5. Do the Bouddi National Park Coastal Walk

girl standing on rock at Bouddi national park Central Coast
Exploring our local area

By far one of our favourite Central Coast discoveries is the Bouddi National Park Coastal Walk.

This is our own Bondi to Coogee coastal walk, except you will have almost the entire track to yourself. It is simply stunning. We have done it several times with our kids and they love it.

Start from Putty Beach, pack a picnic lunch to have on secluded Maitland Bay before walking back. A round trip will take around 4 hours (we did it with 2 kids).

The Bouddi National Park coastal walk is my local’s tip for the best thing to do on the Central Coast, NSW.

6. Do The Five Lands Walk, from McMasters Beach to Terrigal Beach

people walking on McMasters Beach, Australia
Five Lands Walk, McMasters Beach, Central Coast, NSW

The Five Lands Walk on the Central Coast NSW is one of the most enjoyable festivals I’ve ever participated in.

It is held every June to coincide with the migrating whales. The whale is an important totem of the local Aboriginal tribe. The Five Lands walk moves through the five beaches of McMasters, Copacabana, Avoca, North Avoca, and Terrigal Beach.

At each land, there are shows, dances, and food to celebrate the traditional elders of the land, as well as the various migrant communities that live in the area. It’s really special and one you don’t want to miss.

7. Cycle the Central Coast Brisbane Water track

man beside bike on Brisbane water cycle track
Brisbane Water Cycle Track, Gosford to Woy Woy

This ride completely surprised us with how enjoyable this free Central Coast outdoor activity was. We’ve driven up and down the Gosford to Woy Woy road without ever thinking it was anything other than boring.

Jumping on a bike showed us there was a whole lot more to it, there are wetlands and waterways to appreciate. If you are brave enough, you can cycle around the entire Brisbane water – a  41km journey.

Otherwise, jump off the train at Gosford and bike to Woy Woy (approx 8km’s) finishing off with some classic fish and chips at Fishermans Wharf.

8. Enjoy Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures (Go horse riding, abseiling, kayaking, quad biking)

Kalyra watching the horse mustering Glenworth Valley
Waiting for the horse mustering at Glenworth Valley

We LOVED discovering Glenworth Valley and could not believe it was even on the Central Coast.

It’s such a secret, adventurous place to hang out. We recommend coming for at least one night and camping. Get up early for the horse mustering.

It’s a really special experience to see herds of horses come galloping up through the fields from the mist. We were the only ones there watching.

horses

Spend the day horse riding through the valley, quad bike riding, kayaking or abseiling.

Kalyra loved her first horse ride on Chili.

9. Swing through the trees at Treetop Adventure Park, Ourimbah

girl on high obstacle course at Tree Top Adventure Park Central Coast

Want to play Tarzan and do a bit of Jungle surfing? Then head to tree tops and zip line through the trees in Ourimbah State Forest.

They have obstacle courses to suit all ages (and bravery) including one giant flying fox that hurtles you over the car park to the finish.

Kalyra loved this activity, and despite being so fearful jumped off the kiddies flying fox to do her course again.

10. Visit the beaches on the Central Coast, NSW

sunset on macmasters beach central coast nsw

The Central Coast has some beautiful beaches, many of them great for surfing, or with lovely rock pools for the kids to swim in.

Some of our favorites are Macmasters Beach, which is a beautiful natural looking beach with sheltered rock pool area for kids, and Toowoon Bay, which is a picturesque sheltered bay that’s ideal for swimming.

Avoca Beach has a great rock pool area for the kids. For the surfers, just head north to North Avoca for better waves.

a girl standing in water at avoca beach
Avoca Beach

Terrigal Beach is the most popular beach town on the coast. Swim at the main beach or take the kids around to the Haven or the lagoon for a paddle. You can take dolphin and whale watching tours from May to November, when the humpback whales are on their annual migration.

dolphins jumping out of water at terrigal beach
Dolphins catching a wave at Terrigal Beach | Credit:  Destination Central Coast

By day or night, Terrigal is buzzing with cafes, restaurants and the beer garden at Crowne Plaza.

Norah Head is another picturesque beach. Walk up to the Norah Head Lighthouse for a great view, and for the surfers head south to Soldiers Beach.

Sun setting over Norah Head Lighthouse
Norah Head | Credit: Destination NSW

Killcare Beach is where many of Australia’s wealthy elite such as Alan Jones and John Singleton have homes. It’s a quieter beach and has great waves when conditions are right. Head north around the bend and you have Putty Beach, the Bouddi coastal walk.

Sun rises over the horizon at Killcare Beach
Killcare Beach | Credit: Destination NSW
A couple sitting in front of a campervan overlooking Umina Beach, at the NRMA Ocean Beach Holiday Resort in Umina.
Caravan park at Umina Beach | Credit: Destination NSW

I would be remiss if I did not mention our own hometown beach Umina Beach known for its long, sandy shoreline and gentle waves. It’s perfect for swimming, surfing, family picnics, and long walks. I love walking from Umina to Pearl Beach over the rocky cliff track. There is a hugely popular caravan park located at the northern end of the beach – the quieter part to the beach I love. Although they turned it into the dog beach years ago which ruined it somewhat.

11. Go local at the Avoca Beachside Markets

young girl at Avoca Beach markets 083

These are small markets run every 4th Sunday of the month.

There are the usual craft and food stalls. There are a couple of lovely spots under trees to retreat to for a bite to eat or to listen to some local acoustic artists play in Lizottes corner.

12. Get your quirky on at Amazement Farm & Fun Park

a girl in a garden

If you’re visiting the Central Coast with kids, spend the day exploring the mazes and petting friendly farm animals at The Amazement Farm and Fun Park.

This doesn’t sound like much of an epic adventure, but trust us, it’s a lot of fun.

It’s quirky and has enough to entertain you and the kids for hours. There are mazes to get lost in, farm animals to hold, peacocks to chase, games like bocce to play, trails to bike around, and an entertaining sheep race.

You can see how much fun our girls had in the video below:

13. Pelican feeding at The Entrance

Pelican feeding Kangaroo Island

This is quite the popular thing to do every day at 3:30pm on the Entrance foreshore.

It’s actually quite cool to watch how the pelicans fly in from nearby waterways to fill their bellies and to watch them jostle and fight for a tasty morsel of fish.

There is a really great playground here for the kids, and The Entrance is a pretty area to explore while you are here.

14. Explore Gosford Regional Gallery and Edogawa Commemorative Garden

Aerial overlooking The Quarters - Gosford Waterfront.
Gosford |  Destination Central Coast

The Gosford Regional Gallery and Edogawa Commemorative Garden is one of the many Japanese gardens in the Central Coast.

In 1988, Gosford and Japan entered into an agreement and as a gift from Edogawa, the garden was built and opened in 1994.

It features the same design and principles of the Japanese Heian period (700AD), including a tranquil koi pond, shuyu (strolling style) garden, and Japanese-style pavilions.

The garden is a quiet place to reflect and enjoy being in nature.

15. Relax at Distillery Botanica

Distillery Botanica's Mr. Black cold brew coffee liqueur.
Distillery Botanica’s Mr. Black cold brew coffee liqueur | Credit: Destination NSW

Set in a serene three acre garden, is the Distillery Botanica. Here you can taste some award-winning gins, vodkas and liqueurs, but it’s also a great place to relax and enjoy the gardens.

Enjoy complimentary tastings, tour the distillery, or tour the gardens to learn about how the plants and botany are used to create unique flavors to their products.

16. Learn about pearling at Broken Bay Pearl Farm

Guide showing guests the pearl lines at the Broken Bay Pearl Farm
Broken Bay Pearl Farm| Credit: Destination NSW

The Central Coast has a long-standing pearling history and is one of the best places to learn about how these precious gems are farmed.

Head over to Lower Hawkesbury River, to the Shellar Door of Broken Bay Pearl Farm, where you can browse through locally grown pearls, shells and jewellery, or book onto one of the Pearl Farm tours.

As well as learning about pearl farming, it’s also a great place to dine on some fresh local oysters with amazing views of the river.

Craig and I worked on a pearl farm in Kuri Bay, Western Australia. I promise you’ll find this experience learning how they are cultivated will be fascinating.

17. See Ancient Rock Engravings at Brisbane Water National Park

rock art
Aboriginal Rock Art | Credit: Destination NSW

Another popular national park in the Central Coast region is Brisbane Water National Park, near Gosford.

The park has many wonderful hiking trails and fishing points, but it’s also home to an ancient Aboriginal rock engraving site that’s worth checking out.

Bulgandry Art Site Aboriginal Place has some well-preserved engravings that are more than 200 years old, some even older.

18. Splash Around at Central Coast Aqua Park

If you’re visiting the Central Coast in the summer, head to Central Coast Aqua Park in Gosford.

Open from November, this inflatable obstacle course is a fun adventure for the whole family! Climb on pyramids, swing on monkey bars, slide down slides, and splash around in the ocean.

It’s the perfect way to cool off from the summer heat, and have fun doing so!

19. Play at Wyong Milk Factory

Small group enjoying a cheese making lesson at Little Creek Cheese
cheese making lesson at Little Creek Cheese, | Credit: Destination NSW

The Wyong Milk Factory opened its doors in 1906, and has evolved from a simple milk factory to a restaurant and playground that’s fun for the whole family.

Take a kayak or row boat out onto the river, have a BBQ, and let the kids blow off some steam in the indoor and outdoor playground.

Inside the factory is Little Creek Cheese, Central Coast’s own local, award winning, handmade gourmet cheese factory and outlet. You can go behind the scenes with the cheesemaker, learn how to make cheese and enjoy a cheese tasting platter!

Places to Stay on the Central Coast NSW

Crowne Plaza, Terrigal

Crowne Plaza Hotel Terrigal
Terrigal Beach

The Crowne Plaza, Terrigal is an iconic Central Coast place to stay.

It has a fabulous beer garden (we think one of the best in Oz) overlooking the beach. From Thurs – Sun they have live acoustic music. Head upstairs to the Lord Ashley Bar for high tea or a cocktail.

Our best tip: grab some wine and walk around to the Haven for beautiful sunset views over Terrigal Beach.

The Mantra, Ettalong

girls standing on a balcony

We recently had Craig’s 40th/ farewell party at the Mantra Ettalong. It has the most beautiful views.

It’s a really popular place for Sydney Siders to stay on a weekend. The ferry from Palm Beach almost drops you at the front door.

Ocean Beach Caravan Park

The award winning Ocean beach caravan park has all the accommodation options and facilities to meet any families needs.

A great pool area with water slide is the highlight, otherwise, simply walk straight across the road to Umina Beach.

Patonga Caravan Park

Aerial overlooking Patonga Wharf and Patonga Beach, Patonga.
Patonga Wharf and Patonga BeachCredit: Destination NSW

Patonga Caravan Park is such a pretty, secluded caravan park in a very small local town on the beach.

It’s great for families looking for a relaxing getaway with nature, especially if there are any fishing fans in the family.

Places to Eat on the Central Coast

Finding a place to eat is never easy, so here are three places we used to dine at regularly to help you narrow down your search!

Fishermen’s Wharf, Woy Woy

people seating on Fisherman's Wharf Restaurant Woy Woy

I may be a little biased about Fishermen’s Wharf, BUT, back in 1996, they did have the best cook there in the restaurant by the name of Caz!

Truly, Fisho’s is such a great place to eat on the Central Coast.

It has the best calamari I have ever eaten and lunch or dinner on the wharf with views over the quiet channel is such a relaxing way to enjoy time with friends or family.

Bamboo Buddha Cafe and Nursery, Holgate

The Bamboo Buddha cafe is an oasis set in Holgate is a vegetarian cafe / gallery / tea garden / nursery all rolled into one. Go treat yourself to some organic coffee and a spot of tranquility.

Bar Toto, Ettalong

food on display

Bar Toto was our local cafe. It’s in the Ettalong Tourist Resort, where you can also enjoy a beautiful dinner in one of the many restaurants there.

You can also duck into the cinema for a movie. Our tip: buy your movie ticket at Totos, you’ll get a bargain price if you buy a coffee with it.

More NSW Tips

Need more tips for visiting New South Wales and the Central Coast? Here are some other helpful guides…

What are you most looking forward to doing in the Central Coast? Let us know in the comments.

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