Inspire

5 Ways The Central Coast Is A Perfect Weekend Away, According To Someone Who Used To Hate It

It’s very hard to change someone’s opinion of their home town. Those opinions aren’t always fair, in fact they’re often formulated as stroppy teens who are, frankly, a little pissed off at everything.

I grew up on the Central Coast in New South Wales. I lived in a few suburbs around the area until we moved away to Queensland when I was nearly 17. Since then I’ve visited a few times — often, at first, when my high school friends were still in the area, then gradually less and less as everyone I knew moved to Sydney until eventually (after a very misguided attempt to live there again for a year with an ex), I stopped altogether.

During this entire time, I had a not very flattering view of the area. It was undeniably beautiful, sure, and I did a stint with Nippers just like every single other kid who grew up there. But it was bogan — loveably so, and I’m a bogan too, so I say this with a fondness — but still.

If you’ve ever lived on or near the Central Coast (and especially if you’re from Sydney), then I know I’m not shocking you with this opinion.

It’s been about six years since I’ve been back there, until one very nostalgic weekend not long ago. I won’t lie, the overall vibe is very much still laid back and chilled out.

However there were some significant changes that surprised me, and now have me convinced it’s the perfect spot for a mini vacay.

#1 The food is way better

 

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Don’t get me wrong, Rajani Indian Restaurant at Kincumber always slapped, and fish and chip shops by the beaches on the Cenny Coast are second to none.

In general, though, when it came to cute decor or fancier dishes, there wasn’t a lot (if any) options when I left. Now though, there are heaps of cute, funky and varied places to dine. They’re usually a way more reasonable price than you’ll get in the city too.

I’m now obsessed with the kitschy decor, mouth-watering dishes and ridiculously friendly staff at The Lucky Bee in Hardy’s Bay.

The underage teens might still be getting drunk on the streets of Terrigal at night (which yes, we were also doing when I lived there, but if you tell my Mum I’ll still deny it), but in general the area is classing itself up. Arc is leading the charge in my opinion. If you’re a fan of fine dining, degustations and very reasonable pricing, you should definitely visit here.

For casual cafes with a touch of hipster, places like Malibu in Wamberal, Coast 175 and Lords Of Pour both in Ettalong are abounds.

They’re still quite spread apart and Ubers are hard to come by so you’ll have to ‘rock, paper, scissors’ for deso driver if you want a few cocktails.

#2 The stores got a facelift

 

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Admittedly when I left The Coast I was still very heavily into a goth/punk phase and my fashion sense had a lot of room for improvement. Regardless, if you weren’t just going to wear boardies and a Billabong singlet like everyone else there weren’t a lot of options.

Now though, there’s quite a few around for both clothing and home decor. Long Jetty, in particular, has a few cute stops within short walking distance. You can read more about them here.

#3 There’s a distillery now

Image: Provided / Bar Botanica

I realise I could have combined Distillery Botanica with several other sections, but I have a nostalgic story to tell so I’m making it a section of it’s own.

Growing up, this place was called the Fragrant Garden (the entry gate is still standing). It was basically just a nice garden, but they also did children’s fairy parties. Despite what I just told you about being a punk-loving teen, up until the age of about eight (which yes, IS too old) I would ALWAYS pick these fairy parties where you would dress up as fairies and do fun activities led by the Fairy Godmother. I LOVED IT.

Seriously, just look at my wildly pleased six-year-old face:

Image from my Mum’s personal archives.

Even at 30, I was disproportionately excited to be back there. There are no longer fairy parties and decorations, but there IS a cafe with tea and cheese boards, and award-winning gelato.

Plus a distillery focusing on gin but also producing the BEST raspberry liquor I’ve ever tasted. Which is basically the adult equivalent of fairy parties.

#4 There’s a better class of watering hole

 

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When I finally came of age and could stop getting drunk at house parties or around Terrigal and Erina Fair (don’t judge me), there was not a lot of quality when it came to having a drink out and about.

The two seediest ones — Woodport Inn and Iggy Joes  — have now closed. May they rest in unidentified-sticky-patch and unprovoked-punch-up peace.

Instead, a new generation of legitimately trendy bars have cropped up, many of which are around Terrigal. Like Rhonda’s Bar & Restaurant, Mumbo Jumbo, The Joker And The Thief and Pocket Bar.

#5 I’m always surprised at the beauty

 

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I can absolutely promise you that I didn’t appreciate the natural beauty or constantly close proximity to a beach while I was growing up here. I did, however, fully understand how amazing these things were when I moved away (of course).

With each beach pit stop and every nature walk, I still find myself constantly marvelling at how really, ridiculously good looking this corner of the country is. I mean, look at the unedited image I took above of Hardy’s Bay at sunset — *kissy fingers*.

Then there are hikes through Bouddi National Park, Brisbane Water National Park and even The Skillion at Terrigal (which by the way, is a cliff face with a lovely view out to the ocean that my classmate fell off one time and it became his claim to fame).

I mean hell, even a huge amount of your holiday rental options have a hectic view of the water, like where I stayed at ‘Mystic Waves’ in Wamberal, or all of these.

(Lead Image: Provided / Destination NSW)