Having the freedom of being able to explore our beautiful NSW East Coast has had me fall in love with many places we’ve travelled to, but it’s also made me fall in love with where we live too. It’s kind of like the saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. In this case, it’s not gone, but you don’t realise how beautiful the place is that you live when you’re so use to seeing it all the time! Exploring our home region is something we love to do, because there truly is so much beauty around us without having to go far!
1. Lake Munmorah National Park.
Lake Munmorah National Park is located on the northern end of the Central Coast. It’s got plenty to offer for camping, beaches, surfing, hiking, look outs and many picnic spots within the national park. The must see spots are hands down Frazer Beach for surfing, swimming, rock pools, camping and picnics. There’s also a tea tree lagoon perfect for the kids to paddle in. Just up from Frazer Beach is Snapper Point, which has a lookout to the cave below and there’s an easy short walk out to the point for views of Frazer Beach and Mooney Beach which is also a nice hike down to a quiet and secluded beach.
2. Somersby Falls
Just out of Gosford is one of the easiest waterfalls to access, with views that will take your breath away and surroundings that are so tranquil and lush that you’ll believe fairies really do exist. The walk down to the main waterfall is an easy 5 – 10 minute walk and is pathed which makes it super accessible with kids. The main falls are the real attraction but if you’re up for more exploring you’ll find two more waterfalls further down the track. Accessing the middle Falls are pathed but to find the bottom one requires a bit of searching for an unpathed and unmarked track. It’s easy enough to find and not too hard to do with kids either. Make sure you’re wearing appropriate footwear as some rocks down can be pretty slippery. At the bottom falls, you’ll be able to walk behind the waterfall which is well worth the hike down!
3. Girrakool Picnic Area
Also just out of Gosford and close by to Somersby Falls is Girrakool Picnic Area which has so much on offer for those who love an adventure! You can picnic here and choose between two hikes, the Girrakool Loop Track which is an easy 2km loop walk or for those up for a day adventure, there’s the Piles Creek Loop Track which is a 4km, 3 hour hike amongst some of the most beautiful sights you’ll see on the Coast! The Piles Creek walk isn’t one for the faint hearted as there are some steep areas. You’ll be amazed by the many views of the incredible waterfall and you’ll also find yourself at an amazing suspension bridge to cross the Piles Creek. When reaching the suspension bridge, there are many spots to stop and have a picnic or to just take in your surroundings (and catch your breath haha). The last half of the walk is relatively easy and mostly flat once you get past the suspension bridge area. At the end you will reach the top of the waterfall with beautiful views down. Its a huge hike but one that is absolutely worth it! If you’re not up for a huge hike but still want to view the waterfall, enter the opposite end of the loop track which will lead you straight to it.
4. Bouddi National Park
Bouddi National Park is on the southern end of the Coast, with an entry point located in the beautiful Killcare for easy access to the boardwalk that boasts incredible views of the ocean and over to the Barrenjoey Head Lighthouse in the distance. You can start this walk on many entry points in the area, though this one will give you so much wow factor from the get go! There is a stunning boardwalk just after the most beautiful red rock hills that will have you second guessing if you’re really by the coast! Further up are the most beautiful eroded sand stones with patterns that will amaze you! Keep venturing north and you can go left to continue your walk up to Gerrin Point Lookout and further up is Maitland Bay. Its a beautiful family hike that is easy enough to do, with plenty to stop and look at on the way. You’ll never hear the kids say they’re bored on this walk!
5. Catherine Hill Bay
Just on the outskirts of the Coast on the northern end is the Historic Catherine Hill Bay which is a cute little sleepy old mining town with heritage homes, a historic pub, surf beaches and the iconic wharf out into the ocean that was built in 1873 which is now today a tourist attraction. Back in the day, the wharf was used for the shipment of the coal that was mined in the local area.
6. Caves Beach
One of our family favourites is Caves Beach in the summer. Named Caves Beach for obvious reasons, you’ll find a cave which has complete access through to the other side which will lead you to the prettiest mermaid pools when the tide is right. It’s the perfect spot to set up for the day and have a good old Aussie summer beach day.
7. Long Jetty
Another town that is named for obvious reasons is Long Jetty. It has little local shops and cafes that are funky, retro, eclectic and vintage. Down by the lake is a 351m long jetty that is 102 years old, and pans out into the shallow waters of Tuggerah Lake which was used in the day for the ferry across the lake which no longer runs. There are plenty of playground options nearby for the kids to run off some energy, or pack the bikes and walk along the path all the way to The Entrance.
If you’re like us, you’ll love the best of both worlds. Country and Coastal. Head out to Yarramalong for a peaceful country drive, where you can also head up Red Hill Road for some 4WD tracks, or just a scenic drive down to Peats Ridge. Or you can head left once you reach Yarramalong which will take you to the historic Wollombi in the Hunter Valley or take a trip out to Mangrove Dam for a picnic.
9. Norah Head
Offering plenty of beach options is Norah Head. You can surf at Soilders Beach, or head down to Jenny Dixon beach for a surf and a swim. Our favourite spot is Cabbage Tree Bay which is at the bottom of the boat ramp, and left of the family favourite Rockpool. These two spots are perfect for little kids, with little to no waves and perfect for snorkeling. There is also the beautiful Norah Head lighthouse, which you can drive up to, or walk to along the beach from the Rockpool.
10. The Coastal Track, Bateau Bay
Another go to spot for me when wanting to go for a local hike is the Coastal Track at Bateau Bay. You can start at Crackneck Lookout and venture right, left or do both. Heading right will see you heading south towards Forresters Beach. The walking track consists of dirt paths, sandy walk ways, boardwalks, and steel grated stair climbs. There are some beautiful coastal views along the way and if you’re feeling adventurous you can head down to the beach and find your own little private beaches.
11. The Watagans
The Watagans National Park is again on the outskirts of the Coast but is a place you have to see. There are endless places to discover and you’ll always find something to do. From hiking down to Gap Creek Falls, seeing the Moss Wall at Boarding House Dam, having a picnic at The Pines, camping at the many camp areas, 4WD tracks, plenty of hiking tracks and look outs. It’s a favourite national park of ours that is just a stones throw away!
12. Redhead Lagoon
Another place to see that is on the outskirts of the Coast is one for the beach 4WD Folk! Get yourself a pass and enjoy the drive up to Redhead Lagoon via the Blacksmiths entry. Spy dolphins as you dive along, take on some sand dunes, set up for the day by the beach or on the tea tree lagoon, pack a picnic or a bbq, you can even camp on this beach! It makes for a fun day out!