If you took your time exploring every golden patch of sand, every world-class surf break, every corner of luscious national park and every secluded walking trail, you’d need a fair while longer than just 48 hours to discover the Central Coast. But if you’re limited to two days in this spectacular seaside region just an hour north of Sydney, this is how you should make the most of it.
Spend the night at the Tallow Beach campground, secluded within the Bouddi National Park, so you can wake up to the sight of the sun rising over the Pacific Ocean. You won’t find a more idyllic campsite on the Central Coast than Tallow Beach, only accessibly by a 1.2km walking track and only offering space for six tents, so it feels like you’ve got the whole place to yourself. Bring your walking boots or your fishing rod to discover the best of the bush or the beach.
Tallow Beach campground, Tallow Beach Trail, Box Head NSW, +61 2 4320 4200
Fill your stomach with a good meal because you’ve got a big day of walking ahead of you — and Bells at Killcare is sure to hit the spot. Located within a luxury retreat set among stunning acreage in the tranquil fishing village of Killcare, Bells offers accommodation in its manor house and three cottages, as well as a mouth-watering menu sourced from local farmers, fishermen, winemakers and even ingredients grown on-site. If this five-star experience is out of your price range, grab one of the Fat Goose’s famous pies or a packed lunch for the walk ahead — you’ll stumble across no shortage of picturesque picnic spots.
Bells at Killcare, 107 The Scenic Rd, Killcare Heights NSW, +61 2 4349 7000
Sydney’s seaside strolls might snatch all the attention but the Bouddi Coastal Walk boasts ocean views that can’t be beat. The 8km boardwalk — a long but gentle trail — twists along the rocky coastline and through shady rainforest, linking beautiful bird-watching spots with hidden beaches and peerless vantage points of the ‘Humpback Highway’ when the whales make their annual migration every winter (May to October).
Bouddi National Park, Killcare Heights NSW, +61 2 4320 4200
Your reward for tackling the trail? An afternoon at Macmasters and Copacabana beach, a perfect sample of the golden strips of sand that define the Central Coast. Grab some fish and chips at the Barefoot Cafe at the southern end of the beach, or a quiet schooner to rehydrate at the Copacabana Surf Life Saving Club at the northern end, as the sun sets over the sand.
Barefoot Cafe, 100 Marine Parade, Macmasters Beach NSW, +61 499 059 041
Copacabana SLSC, Del Monte Place, Copacabana NSW, +61 2 4381 1420
If you’ve got any energy left after your hike, head to nearby Avoca for an evening’s entertainment at a historic seaside cinema. The Avoca Beach Picture Theatre began life in the front garden of the Hunter family’s home in 1948, and seven decades and four generations later, crowds still flock to the family-run cinema for the latest Hollywood releases, community events and live entertainment. In fact, the Coast’s favourite film house has been named the Best Independent Regional Cinema in the whole of Australia four times over the last 10 years.
Avoca Beach Picture Theatre, 69 Avoca Dr, Avoca Beach NSW, +61 2 4382 1777
Avoca’s not just home to the best picture theatre on the Central Coast — it’s also got two of the top coffee joints, too. Becker & Co. is the size of a postage stamp but delivers on-point specialty coffee in the middle of town, while Like Minds — a former general store just a short walk from the beach that was converted into a cafe and exhibition space in 2014 — dishes up super sustainable meals made with ingredients sourced from their own gardens.
Becker & Co., 2/162 Avoca Dr, Avoca Beach NSW, +61 2 4381 2312
Like Minds, 352 The Round Dr, Avoca Beach NSW, +61 2 4339 3219
Then it’s time to jump behind the wheel and tick off two of the Coast’s big-ticket attractions. You can’t miss Ploddy the dinosaur greeting visitors to the Australian Reptile Park, which houses a mixture of exotic animals — headlined by Hugo the Galapagos tortoise — and native Aussie wildlife, including the notorious resident croc ‘Elvis the Bone Crusher’, a cranky five-metre salty who made international news when he ate a lawnmower in 2011. Almost right next door, the Australian Walkabout Wildlife Park allows many of its animals to roam free — no crocs, but plenty of emus, roos, turtles and snakes.
Australian Reptile Park, Lot 69 Pacific Hwy, Somersby NSW, +61 2 4340 1022
Australian Walkabout Wildlife Park, 1 Darkinjung Rd, Calga NSW, +61 2 4375 1100
Don’t spend too much time playing Doctor Dolittle with the wildlife before grabbing lunch in Terrigal, the cosmopolitan holiday spot where the beachfront brings with dining options. Take your pick from the Cove Cafe at the water’s edge at the Haven, the sophisticated modern Australian cuisine at Reef, the Terrigal Surf Cafe in the surf life saving club, the relaxed beachside hangout Bellyfish, or stacks of other places offering a side order of ocean views with your main course. Work off lunch with a walk to the top of the Skillion, Terrigal’s iconic headland that enjoys panoramic vistas along the coastline.
Cove Cafe, Scenic Hwy, Terrigal NSW, +61 2 4384 5083
Reef Restaurant, The Haven, Terrigal Esplanade, Terrigal NSW, +61 2 4385 3222
Terrigal SLSC, Esplanade, Terrigal NSW, +61 2 4385 6933
Bellyfish, 4/112 Terrigal Esplanade, Terrigal NSW, +61 2 4385 6838
Next stop, the Entrance — there are pelicans to be fed. Every afternoon at 3.30pm, both pelicans and people flock to the waterfront Memorial Plaza on the Entrance to witness these awesome sea birds fill their gullets. The Entrance is a lot more than just the self-described ‘Pelican Capital of Australia’, however — it’s a haven for fishing and boating, not to mention the string of beaches on its doorstep. End your 48 hours on the Central Coast with a picnic in the aptly named Picnic Point Reserve, as the sun disappears into the vast Tuggerah Lake.
Pelican Plaza, The Entrance NSW, +61 2 4333 5377