An hour up the road from Sydney lives a coastal region that’s loaded with landmarks that make a short road trip north absolutely compulsory. From lighthouses and local wildlife, to historic picture theatres and modern craft breweries, these are the 10 attractions you must tick off on your visit to the Central Coast.
When visitors drive from Sydney to the Central Coast, they’re greeted by a bright yellow, 30-metre long, 100-tonne concrete dinosaur on the Pacific Highway, guarding the front gate of this legendary attraction. Australian Reptile Park is also home to two of the Coast’s most famous residents: Hugo the giant Galapagos tortoise, and ‘Elvis the Bone Crusher’, a grumpy five-metre saltwater crocodile who hit international headlines in 2011 for eating a lawnmower.
Terrigal is the Central Coast’s most popular holiday spot, and this uniquely shaped promontory — a gentle grassy incline leading up to a steep cliff that offers panoramic views over the Pacific Ocean — is its most iconic landmark. While you’re in town, stroll along the esplanade under the shade of the towering Norfolk Island pines to eat and drink your way down Terrigal’s bustling strip of beachfront cafes, bars and eateries.
The Central Coast’s first 100% home-grown microbrewery churns out a mouth-watering range of handcrafted beers, and you shouldn’t miss the chance to slurp down a schooner at their Erina tasting room. Since 2012, Six Strings has welcomed visitors to their brewery to sample the liquid gold pouring out of the 12 taps, accompanied by a Cajun-style restaurant and plenty of live music befitting the brewery’s name.
This long but gentle 8-km boardwalk twists and turns along the rugged coastline, winding through shady rainforests, and craggy clifftops. It connects secluded beaches with stunning vantage points of the ‘Humpback Highway’ when tens of thousands of whales migrate along Australia’s east coast each winter. The Bouddi Coastal Walk links Killcare with Macmasters Beach, and you’ll certainly feel like having a dip to cool off after you’ve conquered it.
Step back in time to the golden age of Hollywood at this historic beachside cinema, which has been named Australia’s Best Independent Regional Cinema four times in the last decade. The Avoca Beach Picture Theatre showed its first flicks in the front garden of the Hunter family’s home in 1948, and seven decades and four generations later, the film house is going strong with its busy program of new releases, cult classics, and community events.
Introducing the single most Instagrammable attraction on the Coast. Besides adding an electric light, the Norah Head Lighthouse has remained virtually untouched since it was built in 1903, boasting the same peerless views over miles of ocean. Neighbouring the pristine Soldiers Beach, you can now spend the night in the old lighthouse keepers’ quarters or go on a guided tour of the building.
Local Central Coast property developer Tony Denny fell in love with vintage autos the moment he bought his first classic car, a 1955 Ford Zephyr. So smitten, in fact, that he opened a museum devoted to his obsession in 2015 — and now the Gosford Classic Car Museum is home to 450 cars worth more than $70 million, including 35 Ferraris, a wide variety of rare Soviet vehicles and the complete range of Holden vehicles spanning 1948 to 1978.
Old Trafford, Camp Nou, and La Bombonera might be great stadiums, but do they have a row of palm trees and a pair of sauce bottles at one end of the pitch? Those features make the modern, 20,000-seat Central Coast Stadium one of the most unique arenas in world football, so head to Gosford and get behind local A-League outfit the Central Coast Mariners for a distinctly Australian footballing experience.
The Entrance bills itself as the ‘Pelican Capital of Australia’ thanks to the daily pelican feeding at the waterfront Memorial Plaza every afternoon at 3.30 pm, when onlookers flock to see these majestic sea birds fill their gullets with more fish than a sumo wrestler at a seafood buffet. This holiday hotspot at the northern end of the Central Coast also provides leafy nature reserves for a picnic, a well-patrolled beach and stacks of great fishing spots.
The Central Coast is peppered with some of the most scenic campgrounds in Australia, but if you feel like splurging on a little five-star luxury, book a stay at Bells at Killcare. Perched high above the Bouddi Peninsula — a haven of serene swimming spots, quaint fishing villages, tranquil marinas, and a bucolic national park — Bells accommodates guests in a glamorous manor house and cottages, and feeds them in a world-class restaurant stocked with the freshest local produce.