The Central Coast, north of Sydney, and south of Newcastle
On the southern side of Newcastle (but almost in Newcastle), heading back towards Sydney are Warners Bay, Belmont and Swansea on the side of Lake Macquarie – with 110 square kilometres of waterways.
Lake Macquarie is the biggest salt water lake in Australia, and is a very popular place to visit and you will be able to see windsurfers, yachts, fishing, stand up paddle boards, kayaks and other water sporting activities, as well as walk around the foreshores on a number of walking trails. Lake Macquarie is also very close to the ocean beaches – which you will see signposted as you travel along the A43 Pacific Highway that runs between the Lake and the Ocean beaches. There are a number of hotels, caravan parks, holiday rental properties and other accommodation places to stay near the Lake and beaches in this area.
Travelling further south from Newcastle along the A43, and turning onto the A49 to Budgewoi, you will also travel close to another lake system – Lake Munmorah, Lake Budgewoi and the Tuggerah Lake. Again there are a number of popular places to stay at Toukley and The Entrance. It is a very pretty drive through this area, and leads on to the Central Coast and Gosford.
Gosford and the beaches near it are called ‘The Central Coast’ – and this is around 90km out of Sydney. A lot of Sydney commuters live in this area, as well as retirees and young families. The area is very popular for Sydney people wanting to get out of the city, and four of the best known beach towns in this area are Avoca Beach, Copacabana, Terrigal and The Entrance. There are a number of caravan parks, holiday homes, hotels and guest houses in and around these beachside towns – which are popular with surfers, families and day trippers from Sydney. Terrigal is bigger than Avoca and has a very long beach, as well as a lot more shops and the 4 star Crowne Plaza Hotel opposite the beach. All of these beach towns are relatively close together, and most likely if you stay in one of these, you will no doubt visit the others too.
There is also Australian Reptile Park at Somersby, just off the M1 on the Pacific Highway (www.reptilepark.com.au Tel: (02) 4340 1022) where there are snakes, crocodiles, koalas, kangaroos, and a Tasmanian Devil. This park also milks snakes for their venom to use in making anti-venoms, with conservation and research being a key part of their operation. Also in Calga, at 2375 Peats Ridge Rd, there is Walkabout World (www.walkaboutpark.com.au ) Tel: 4375 1100.
Brisbane Waters is also a large lake and Gosford, the biggest city here, is located next to the lake as well as other small towns. There are two large National Parks located on the Central Coast – Bouddi National Park on the ocean side of Brisbane Waters, and Brisbane Waters National Park on the inland side. There are some popular beaches in the National Park – these being Umina, Pearl Beach and Patonga Beach. Brisbane Waters salt water lake area links up with Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury River and Pittwater waterways – making these waterways accessible from the Central Coast and also Palm Beach on the Sydney side.