With the year that we’ve had and international travel off the cards, there has never been a better time to explore our own backyard.
Just an hour North from Sydney, the Central Coast of New South Wales is an often over-looked beach-holiday destination. However, the Central Coast has transformed itself over the last few years and should now absolutely be considered a front-runner for your next trip. From beautiful beaches, epic views, family-friendly coastline walks, huge National Parks to exquisite local produce served in excellent cafes and restaurants, there’s plenty to explore. And, whilst you discover it all…you can now try glamping with a difference.
The Inner West Mums recently visited the Central Coast and we think it is the perfect destination for your next getaway, and we’re happy to tell you why!
We stayed in the NRMA’s new “Glamtainer”, a luxury converted shipping container, located at the NRMA’s Umina Ocean Beach Holiday Resort.
The Glamtainer lived up to its name as the décor and furnishings were all impressive – think Scandi-style log cabin – and it was luxuriously comfortable. Size-wise, it’s not huge, but it’s perfect for a 2.4 family, on a 2-5 night break. The Glamtainer comes complete with a bathroom, kitchenette, air-con, outdoor deck with a BBQ, a queen bed and a cute cabin-style queen bed for the kids. As a family, we’ve always liked the idea of camping but truth be told, we’re all fussy about where we sleep. So this was really great for us, to be so close to nature, without the effort of putting up a tent or mattress!
Each morning we woke to the peaceful sounds of the ocean – Umina Beach is a two minute walk away. It was bliss. We ate breakfast on the outdoor deck and watched the ocean coming in, whilst the local wildlife hopped by.
For the kids, the popular Ocean Beach resort is the ultimate holiday destination. They were in their element as they splashed around in the water splash park, bounced on the bouncing pillows, swam in the numerous resort pools, and slid down the water slide more times than they (or we) can count.
It was also relaxing for the adults, because there was so much to keep the kids entertained and occupied with – giving us parents the chance chill out on the sun loungers around the pool and even read..well, scroll.
On our way to Umina, we made a quick pit stop in Woy Woy and had lunch at the yummy Lunch Bar Bakehouse. The kids loved the fresh smoothies, the delicious pastries and healthy wraps, which were the perfect fuel to keep us going for the day. We also chatted with the lovely owner, once a Balmain local, and picked up some great tips on what to do and see on our trip.
For another excellent coffee spot, head to Lords of Pour in Ettalong. As the name suggests, there is a firm focus on coffee (and alcohol in the evening). The coffee is Inner-West worthy and the food was fantastic too – the egg and bacon rolls and mushroom pesto soughdough toastie went down a treat. So much so, that we did a few return trips.
One night, we ate at BMX Burgers, a fun, retro burger joint where ‘80s/‘90s-kids-now-parents can relive their fluro-filled youth in the best way – think arcade games (Pac-Man, of course), Rocky, and BMX bandits. The thoughtful menus are printed on the back of VHS tape boxes and music from the era filled the air. Whilst the adults in our group were enjoying the nostalgic trip, the kids were busy demolishing the really tasty burgers, fries and shakes.
There’s a cute little food truck in Ettalong, sign-posting Sasa – a traditional Sicilian Artisan Bakery and well, we couldn’t resist. Whilst we visited just after breakfast and couldn’t go too crazy, we did sample one of their many specialties – Sicilian ricotta cannoli, and it was phenomenal.
Mr Goaty Gelato
Being Sydney-siders, we are well-versed at travelling for food, so a 25 minute drive for gelato seemed quite reasonable to us! We drove further north in the search of what we had heard was the best gelato in the region and we were not disappointed. Mr Goaty is located at the beautiful Bar Botanica & Distillery in Erina. The gelato is lovingly, hand-churned using natural ingredients and flavours from the garden. The Lemon Myrtle and Honey Bay Leaf, were our favourites – delicate, smooth and in the words of the kids… totally YUM!
For gin lovers, you can also stroll through the beautiful gardens and check out the award-winning gin bar – Distillery Botanica, which is open for tastings from Wednesday to Sunday.
Fuss-Free Dining at The Bon Pavilion
We drove to Gosford one night for a night of (family) fine-dining at the excellent Bon Pavilion. Whilst fine-dining and Gosford may not have been synonymous in the past, award-winning chef Sean Connolly (formerly of Astral and Sean’s Kitchen), is changing that. The setting of the restaurant is beautiful, informal, extremely spacious and very accommodating for families. It’s also very, very cool. As soon as you walk through the giant glass doors, past the beautiful mural, sweeping staircase and spot the open plan kitchen, you feel like you have been transported to New York.
The menu is thoughtfully designed and whilst there is an emphasis on food coming from the charcoal pit, a variety of preferences are catered for. Kids even have their own menu and the portion sizes were excellent. The kids happily tucked into pasta and ice-cream whilst we got to eat sublimely tasty fish cooked to absolute perfection. All the meals and sides were generously sized too.
There are so many great eateries we couldn’t squeeze them all in on our trip. Here are some of the others you need to know about, which are already on our list for our next trip:
Boat Tour of NSW’s Pearl Farm
Located on the tranquil waters of the Hawkesbury River, is NSW’s only pearl farm and is an absolute must visit if you looking for an experience with a difference. Launched in 2019, Broken Bay Pearl Farm now offer visitors a new ‘shellar door’ experience, where you can hop aboard a sailboat, explore the bay and learn all about how the pearls are collected from the experienced skipper. The kids will be mesmerized as pearls are harvested in front of you, and will love looking out for all the beautiful marine life, including stingrays and turtles.
On some tours you can actually harvest a pearl yourself and keep it.
If you’re visiting on a weekend then try some fresh and local oysters whilst you are there, next-door is the Hawkesbury River Oyster Shed.
Patonga is an idyllic coastal village, south-west of Woy Woy and is a perfect spot for a swim and a family picnic. Feeling lazy? Head over to The Boathouse which is literally on the beach…you can’t miss it.
Not far from Patonga, is another beautiful seaside village Pearl Beach, which is also stunning and has an ocean pool.
Be sure to pack your walking shoes, there are plenty of stunning walks along the coastline, with some awesome views.
The 8km circuit Bouddi coastal walk (grade 3 walk) runs from Putty Beach to MacMasters Beach and is one of the most beautiful central coast walks. It can get a bit hairy at times, so may not be suitable for smaller children – but if you do, the pay-off is sensational. For your perfect insta shot, check out Gerrin Point Lookout, which is easy to find from Putty Bay Beach (1.2km from the start of the track along the broadwalk).
The Patonga to Pearl Beach walking track is a 3km walk which is quite challenging but will also offer spectacular views from the Warrah lookout. Plus, at the end of the walk, you can jump in the ocean for a well-deserved cool down.
If you have younger kids in tow, then you can just break the walk up and try Putty Beach to Maitland Bay (3km), Maitland Bay to Little Beach (3.5km) or Little Beach to MacMasters Beach (1.7km).
If you have time, also check out:
For more information visit www.lovecentralcoast.com.au.