The Central Coast of NSW is renowed for its many stunning beaches, luscious national parks and incredibly amazing adventures.

Hurtling down the magnificent Worimi sand dunes on Stockton Beach, the blazing sun reflecting off the fine white sand, the ocean and the surrounding bushland, you’d be forgiven if you thought you were in a faraway place. But, alas, this is the NSW Central Coast, less than a two-hour drive from Sydney but completely worlds away. From here, your adventure is closer than you think.

Driving along the Pacific Highway north of Sydney, it’s easy not to notice the gem that is hidden in the natural bushland of NSW. Take any of the exits between the stretch of Hawkesbury River, south, and Lake Macquarie, north, and the alluring beauty that is the Central Coast will present itself. The black cockatoos that fill the blue skies are an invitation to see more of the countryside and experience the adventure and rich history that waits. With warm summers, mild winters and uninterrupted landscapes, the region boasts diverse wildlife, a mix of bays and beaches, inlets and lakes and attractive hinterland, all but a 20-40 min drive from each attraction in the area.

Just a stone’s throw away, the Central Coast is approximately 80km north of Sydney with access to motorways and rail links connecting Sydney to Newcastle since the early 1960s. It is surrounded by pristine national parks and nature reserves that are treasured natural assets to the six regions across the Central Coast and obtain a valuable repository of Aboriginal history.

Lying on the Pacific Ocean, coastal towns such as Terrigal and Avoca feature expansive beaches and surf spots and offer colourful dining and entertainment options. Terrigal Haven, in particular, is a great place to go snorkelling where visitors can catch glimpses of colourful fish and other local marine life. Make a day out of it and visit the Avoca Beach Picture Theatre, just south of Terrigal, for a dinner and a movie where the venue often hosts themed nights. Italian Night is a popular one and includes Italian cuisine, live Italian entertainment followed by an Italian film with subtitles.

Further inland is where the city of Gosford can be found, the main commercial hub and visitor gateway to the Central Coast. Boasting a charming waterfront  with great independent cafes, the tranquil Brisbane Water surrounds make it a perfect location for sailing enthusiasts.

This story was originally published in the June 2016 issue of Australian Country. Subscribe to the magazine here.

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Words Daria Kurilo
Photography Daria Kurilo and Destination NSW Image Library