Taking a quick break on the Magical Central Coast
By Sandip Hor
Since the end of March this year, I have contained myself in and around my home in South Strathfield – in the Inner West suburb of Sydney, because of the restrictions due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
It is not difficult to imagine how frustrating this has been for a person like me with an utterly itchy foot who has travelled to more than one hundred countries in six continents and for years had at least one travel – either overseas on interstate - scheduled every month.
So when overdosed with virtual travel, webinars and watch parties, NSW Government’s decision to ease travel within the state came as a welcome relief.
Almost straightaway I hit the road not only to see and appreciate how beautiful and charming my own back yard is, but also to boost the crumbling rural tourism economy in my own humble way.
I chose the Central Coast region being close to home - within an hour and a half drive northwards from Sydney.
For a few days I explored parts of the picturesque country around Gosford – a modern urban hideout on the Brisbane Water and within close proximity of magnificent national parks, glittering waterways, stunning beaches, lively waterside townships and quite villages.
Pacific Motorway (M1) connects Sydney with the Central Coast and the entry point is the famous Mooney Mooney Bridge across the Hawkesbury River. The moment I crossed the famous twin cantilever channel I sensed a kind of freedom in the lap of unspoilt nature.
This trip was basically shaking hands with nature while sunbathing at an open parklands under the blue sky, rambling along sandy paths of Ettalong Beach and Forresters Beach, bushwalking through the forests of Brisbane Water National Park, and watching radiant colors of the sky when sun vanishing into the horizon. Surely this had a soothing effect on my weary mind and soul stressed from the trauma of the current pandemic situation.
Another key feature of the trip was viewing spectacular avian species on the water from ducks, geese, swans, darters, cranes, egrets, herons, gulls and storks to giant pelicans who are the famous residents of The Entrance – a resort township set where the sparkling Pacific Ocean meets the calm waters of Tuggerah Lake. Watching the nation’s largest water birds being fed ceremoniously around 3.30 pm every day is the biggest attraction of this scenic sanctuary.
While travelling I was pretty impressed to see the locals and outsiders maintaining social distances and adopting other health safety measures as directed by the government. Similar was the situation at local shops, cafes and restaurants. Hope this attitude will help to end the pandemic sooner than later and open doors for more tourism within the state and beyond in coming months.
Getting There: It’s easy to reach destination by road, driving north from Sydney along Pacific Motorway (M1) and Central Coast Highway (A49) or south from Newcastle. Gosford is 76km from Sydney and 90km from Newcastle. An alternative is to travel by intercity trains on the Sydney- Newcastle line.
Stay: Plenty of staying options throughout the region from luxury resorts and hotels to backpacker hostels and Airbnb accommodations. I stayed at Seabreeze Retreat – an Airbnb nest at Point Clare, not far from Gosford.
More info: www.visitnsw.com
MATURE AGE RATINGS
Pros: Great area for a day trip or a relaxing beach holiday
Cons: Traffic is congested and parking hard to find on weekends
Value: Good value for money compared to Gold Coast
Dining: Plenty of options
Shopping: Westfield Tuggerah, Erina Fair, Lakehaven
Disabled: Great disability access
Things to do: Sit on the beach, drive in the lush Hinterland, fishing, surfing, golf, bowls, art
Editor says: Go for it!
Pelican feeding at The Entrance is a major event
The famous Hawkesbury River Bridge is the Gateway to the Coast
The beautiful unspoilt beaches are a highlight of the Coast and great for bushwalking