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A Weekender's Guide to the Central Coast

Picturesque hikes, shipwrecks, rooftop bars and acclaimed eateries less than two hours from Sydney.
By Samantha Teague
November 09, 2018

A Weekender's Guide to the Central Coast

Picturesque hikes, shipwrecks, rooftop bars and acclaimed eateries less than two hours from Sydney.
By Samantha Teague
November 09, 2018

Some say NSW's Central Coast is the Venice of Australia, which may sound like a stretch, but there are, actually, many similarities: great pizza, al fresco spritzes, aperitivo hours and stunning beaches. And, as an added bonus, there are (hopefully) less floods and less tourists. It's also located less than two hours from Sydney — an easy road trip to accomplish in a weekend.

The Central Coast is expansive — stretching all the way from the Hawkesbury River to Lake Macquarie — and encompasses more than 40 beaches, so this weekender's guide is in no way comprehensive. Instead, it's handpicked list of our favourite places to eat, drink and stay, and things to do, that can easily fill a weekend. And it's the perfect spot to escape to these summer holidays.


The Glass Onion Society


To start a weekend right on the Central Coast, you should start it by the water. And the aptly named Box on the Water offers just that. Located on the newly redeveloped Ettalong Beach foreshore, the eatery offers sprawling views across Broken Bay, great dogspotting and tasty fare from breakfast through dinner. If you're there at sundown, stop by for one of five spritzes and a picture-perfect sunset. Thirty minutes north, you'll find the environmentally conscious Like Minds Avoca. A stone's throw from Avoca Lake, the hip cafe has a chandelier made from repurposed milk jugs, hosts regular produce swaps in its garden and serves locally roasted Fat Poppy Coffee. For more great coffee, head over to Glee in Erina Heights — another local roaster, which has recently launched three new spots on the east coast.

On a stretch of the Central Coast that has more similarities to Newtown than Venice, Long Jetty, you'll find The Glass Onion Society. It, too, would be comfortable relocating to Sydney's inner west, decked out with retro lounges, plants and eclectic knick knacks. It has many vegan-friendly options, including a particularly tasty smoky jackfruit burger. For your final daytime eating spot, make tracks to Saddles — a stunning homestead-like restaurant and bakehouse located on a 28-acre property in Mt White.

Mumbo Jumbo's

As the sun starts to dip, you (like us) might start contemplating a refreshing cocktail or two. Which is fair, you're on holidays after all. For this, they are many options. Terrigal's Pocket Bar — sister to Darlinghurst's recently rebranded Mister Pocket — pairs modern twists on classic cocktails (including watermelon martinis and blue corpse revivers) with fun bar snacks; the Caribbean-themed Mumbo Jumbo's down the road has espresso martinis on tap and a rooftop bar that looks out across the water; and Avoca Surf House is serving up many spritzes and sparkling wines right on the beach.

Another spot doing great drinks is Lucky Bee, but we really recommend heading here for dinner. It's run by Matty Bennett and Rupert Noffs, who recently closed their acclaimed NYC eatery of the same name, swapped the city for the beach and opened Lucky Bee inside Frankie's Rooftop in Woy Woy. Here, the Southeast Asian fare is fiery, the drinks extravagant and the atmosphere always buzzing — make a reservation. Young Barons, run by another young couple, is yet another restaurant hitting all the right notes, with pasta and gelato made fresh daily and bottles of natural wine served up in an unassuming spot around the corner.

If you're back down in Terrigal, stop by the recently renovated Rhonda's. It rally embraces the coastal Italian feel of area, serving up Roman-style woodfired pizza, handmade pasta and house-made limoncello in a breezy, plant-filled space. It has a rooftop bar, too, where you continue drinking spritzes well into the evening.


Mr Goaty Gelato at Distillery Botanica


If just the thought of all that food makes you want to embark on a digestive stroll, you're in luck — there are many on the Central Coast. Back at Ettalong Beach, you can walk along the shore to Umina Beach (an easy three kilometres away) looking out across Broken Bay to Palm Beach. Another short trek is the 1.5-kilometre Maitland Bay Track, which carries you through rainforest to Maitland Bay. Here, at low-tide, you're able to see the shipwrecked remains of PS Maitland at the bay's eastern end.

For something longer, the nearby Bouddi Coastal Trail, an eight-kilometre hike, winds pass lookouts and beaches. Pack your snorkelling gear and explore one of them — we recommend heading to the sheltered Lobster Beach and keeping an eye out for dolphins.

Maitland Bay

Prefer shopping to snorkelling? There are lots of vintage stores and boutiques scattered around the Coast, too. Back at the inner west-like Long Jetty, pop into Dapper Darlings Vintage, Webster's Vintage and Plain Janes. While you're there, visit the town's namesake: the 351-metre Long Jetty stretching out into the middle of Tuggarah Lake.

Once you've shopped up a thirst, Distillery Botanica is the next order of the day. This stunning garden distillery is from the distiller behind Mr Black cold drip coffee liqueur — which you can sample and purchase here, too. The distillery's gins, also named Distillery Botanica, are made using botanicals grown in the garden and taste how you'd image spring would.

The distillery is also home to Mr Goaty, an award-winning gelato made on the Central Coast. Founded by Dan Hughes, formerly a chef at Sydney's Three Blue Ducks, the brand is known for its signature flavours made using goat's milk, which are lighter in sugar, but equally creamy. Many of the flavours — goat's milk, cow's milk and dairy-free — are made using plants grown in the distillery garden, too, including the honeycomb and lavender and lemon myrtle macadamia.


Copacabana Beach House


Perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Tasman is Copacabana Beach House. Spread across three storeys, the restored 70s house is the perfect spot to stay if you're heading away with a crew — it has three bedrooms and sleeps up to eight people — or if you're looking for a very spacious (yet affordable) property for two.

It's even equiped for winter visits, fitted out with a crackling indoor fireplace, a decked out kitchen and outdoor fire pit. During the cooler months, you might even be able to spot humpback whales migrating right pass your window. But the Beach House is ideal for summer, when you can wander down Del Monte Place to Copacabana Beach for a morning dip, and eat fresh seafood on the house's sprawling balconies.

For something smaller, but also by the water, Terrigal's The Clan has 21 waterfront rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the beach or lagoon.


Samantha Teague travelled as guest of Scout PR and This is the Central Coast.

Top image: Cobacabana Beach

Published on November 09, 2018 by Samantha Teague

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