Central Coast, Australia

Only two hours’ drive north of Sydney, the archly dubbed ‘Costa Centrale’ is luring early adopters – and savvy commuters – with its simple fibro shacks, serene surf beaches, tranquil lakes and beautiful native bushland. Edit out local towns such as Woy Woy, Terrigal and Gosford, and chill out in pretty villages by the sea, explore the coastal Bouddi National Park, sail on Brisbane Waters or walk along pristine bush tracks to find your own strip of sand. What’s more, with award-winning chefs cutting a slice of the action at the area’s best hotels and restaurants, you won’t have to make do with fish and chips.

When to go

Even midwinter is temperate on the New South Wales coastline, although it may be a little cool to swim. High summer – December and January – sees the tiny towns and normally quiet beaches filled with holidaying families.

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From the blog

Tales from our travels

Getting there

  • Planes

    Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport (www.sydneyairport.com.au), 10 kilometres south of the city, is well served with international and domestic flights, and is the handiest hopping-off point if you’re heading for the Central Coast.
  • Trains

    CityRail (www.cityrail.info) trains run from Sydney to area hubs such as Woy Woy and Gosford, as well as other Central Coast destinations.
  • Automobiles

    The Central Coast is a two-hour drive north of Sydney, via the Sydney–Newcastle Freeway.
  • Taxis

    Central Coast Taxis (131 008) operates out of Gosford, or ask at your accommodation about transfers to and from local restaurants and bars.

East Coast drive: four days

East Coast drive: four days

Drive from Brisbane to Sydney, breaking for two nights at romantic Victoria’s at Wategos in bohemian Byron Bay (two hours to the south). Swim or surf at curvy Wategos or Little Wategos beaches, where you’ll compete with dolphins for the breaks. Enjoy ocean and bush views on the four-kilometre circuit walk around the Cape Byron Lighthouse, stopping off for coffee at Byron Beach Café on Clarkes Beach. Byron’s Julian Rocks Marine Reserve is great for snorkelling or diving with turtles and manta rays. Just over eight hours of driving brings you to New South Wales’ Central Coast, where boutique hotel Bells at Killcare combines delicious Italian dining, care of chef Stefano Manfredi, with serene seaside strolls. From there, it’s just an hour and a half on to Sydney.

Stay at Bells at Killcare