Eight Things to Eat, See and Do on a Day Trip to the Central Coast
Escape the city grind for coastal hikes, kayaking adventures and lots of fresh seafood.
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One of the best things about living in Sydney is its proximity to so much of the state's ridiculously nice coastline. There's just so much to explore — and, realistically, not enough time to do so. We get it, it's all too easy to get caught up in the daily grind and realise that all you're seeing is work, the train and your house. So, let's change that.
The Central Coast, with its kilometres of coastline, winding waterways and lush bushland, is just waiting to be explored on a cheeky little trip. Plus, it's just a 90-minute drive north of the city, so you don't even need to book any extra time off work. Don't own a car? No worries. Popcar — the premium car-sharing service that offers members the benefits of owning a car without the hassle — has cars stationed all over the city. We've put together an itinerary of what to get up to once you get there.
START WITH BREAKFAST AT LIKE MINDS
Find the closest Popcar near you and hit the road. You'll want to leave early to get the most out of your day, but it's okay, as the first stop is breakfast. Right by Avoca Lake (and just a three-minute drive from the beach), you'll find Like Minds. More than just a cafe, Like Minds is also a market garden, art gallery and creative hub. It has a zero-waste food policy and everything comes from the on-site garden or local farmers and producers. Fuel up with a bircher bowl, Spanish-style baked eggs or mushrooms and rocket cashew pesto on toast. Grab an espresso with beans from Fat Poppy Coffee, or be bold and order the chipotle mocha — two shots of espresso, smoked chilli and dark chocolate.
GRAB A SNACK FROM BURNT HONEY BAKERY
After brekkie, stop by the recently opened Burnt Honey Bakery in Copacabana. You might not be hungry right now, but you'll definitely want some snacks as fuel for the rest of the day, and you don't want to miss out on these pastries. Grab a couple of custard tarts (flavoured with cassia bark and lemon zest), a peach and vanilla danish and some of the shop's signature biscuits — burnt honey, salted almond and creamy milk choc chips — for when you get snacky in the car later.
TAKE A HIKE THROUGH BRISBANE WATER NATIONAL PARK OR ALONG THE COAST
From Copacabana, you're an easy half an hour drive in your Popcar from a couple of great walking trails in Brisbane Water National Park. The area is prone to fire bans in the height of summer, so be sure to check that the park is open before you go (or save it for an off-season visit). Take the short-but-sweet 100-metre Somersby Falls track to the bottom of the falls, and enjoy nature spotting and the cooling spray of the natural water feature. For something a little longer (two kilometres), the Girrakool Loop Track is a scenic bushwalk that passes an Aboriginal rock engraving site, waterfalls and a creek. Whoever spots the first cool animal — keep an eye out for water dragons, frogs and kookaburras — wins, and the loser buys lunch. If you want to stay closer to the ocean, or want a more challenging hike, try the Patonga to Pearl Beach track: a three-kilometre (one way) walk through red gums and eucalypts that stops by the Warrah Lookout.
HIT THE SHOPS IN LONG JETTY
Before or after you stop for lunch, there are a couple of cute shops in Long Jetty that are worth a look in. Wander down The Entrance Road to find the perfect new outfit (well, new to you) at Long Jetty Vintage — just look for the bright, geometric pastel facade. Next, stop in at Shadow Bang Apothecary and Supply to browse beautiful things like clothing, jewellery, tea, essential oils, makeup, body care and homewares — everything is natural and made by female creatives and entrepreneurs. A little further down the strip, Plain Janes is a light and bright fashion boutique selling cute pieces and accessories for women and children.
STOP FOR LUNCH AT BAR BOTANICA OR WOY WOY FISHERMAN'S WHARF
We recommend one of two distinct, but aesthetically pleasing, vibes for lunch. For those that can't get enough of greenery, gin or gelato, head to Bar Botanica. Inside the lush green gardens of Distillery Botanica in Erina is an old mud-brick hut turned cafe and gelateria from the brains behind Mr Goaty Gelato. Sit beneath the conservatory-style windows of the eatery, or spread out a picnic blanket in the garden, and enjoy a ploughman's lunch with gin-spiked cheese and olives or a chicken and tarragon sandwich, followed by gelato in garden-inspired flavours. Be sure to stop by the distillery's cellar door after lunch, too.
If you prefer water views with your meal, Woy Woy Fishermen's Wharf has that in spades thanks to its dramatic high ceilings and wall-to-wall windows. Here, you can enjoy fresh, sustainably sourced seafood, including Cloudy Bay diamond clams, Goolwa pippis in XO sauce and Singapore-style chilli mud crab.
EXPLORE THE WINDY WATERWAYS VIA KAYAK OR PADDLEBOARD
You can't visit the Central Coast without getting out on the water in one way or another. And the locals know it, so there are plenty of spots where you can hire paddleboards, paddle boats, kayaks and more. If you prefer to explore the water right after breakfast, Aqua Fun on Avoca Lake is only a couple of minutes from Like Minds cafe, and it even has a giant stand-up paddleboard that can fit a whole carload of adults. For a post-lunch venture, Terrigal Paddle Boats is not far from Bar Botanica, while Boat, Bike and Paddle Hire Central Coast is located on the Killcare Marina, just a short drive from Woy Woy.
TAKE A MOMENT TO RELAX AT BELLS AT KILLCARE'S DAY SPA
To truly shake off the city, make time for a little pampering at the Bells at Killcare day spa. Surrounded by the serenity of Bouddi National Park, this is the perfect spot to relax with a massage, facial or sea wrap. The spa offers a full range of treatments and packages to suit everyone, using products made with Australian botanicals, organic ingredients and the principles of Aboriginal herbal knowledge.
HAVE SOME DINNER BEFORE HEADING HOME AT THE LUCKY BEE OR YOUNG BARONS
Before heading back down to reality, we recommend The Lucky Bee in Hardys Bay for Southeast Asian street food — and a cocktail for those in the passenger seat. With a short and sweet menu of share plates, you can keep it light if you're still full from lunch with green papaya salad and poached prawns in betel leaves. Or, go for the szechuan pepper and salt whole fried fish with sweet chilli and prik nam pla sauce, if you're hungry. Otherwise, you can get your homemade pasta fix at Young Barons in Woy Woy. If they're available, order the ham hock and potato fritters to start. You won't regret it. Then, it's time to make your way back to Sydney. Before you drop off the car, ensure the tank is at least 30 percent full — there's a fuel card in every car so you don't have to fork out the cash.
Get out and explore beyond the city this summer with Popcar car share. To sign up for just $1 and get one-day free hire ($80 driving credit), head this way.
Top image: Woy Woy Fisherman's Wharf by Nikki To.
Published on December 13, 2019 by Leisha Kapor