While the Central Coast of NSW definitely owes some of its popularity to its pristine coastline, there’s a host of other reasons people are swarming to the region traditionally attracting retirees, and most of them involve tastebuds.
Less than a two-hour drive from Sydney, the ‘Cenny Coast’ (as it’s lovingly dubbed by locals) boasts the laidback lifestyle you’d expect from beachside living while also offering a buzzing food and drink scene. In the past year as city dwellers fled Sydney for more space, Central Coast suburbs like Wyong and Terrigal have seen massive price growth, jumping by over 17%. Want to check it out for yourself? Here are five must-visit spots while you’re there.
Despite its perfect proximity between Shelly Beach and Tuggerah Lake, Long Jetty has suffered from a rough reputation. But as a new demographic of young creatives move in and transform the formally overlooked coastal town, Long Jetty’s finally starting to get a look in. Dubbed ‘The Newtown of the Central Coast’, you’ll find streets dotted with cool boutiques like Plain Janes, vinyl mecca The Sound Exchange, and second-hand clothing store, Long Jetty Vintage. Grab a table outside at The Glass Onion or Green Tangerine, two café’s that wouldn’t feel out of place on King St.
The Boathouse at Patonga
From the same crew that brings you all the best boathouses around town (the Boathouse Balmoral, the Boathouse Palm Beach, etc) the Boathouse at Patonga burst onto the scene in 2018 and instantly became a central coast institution. The relaxed, coastal aesthetic matches the vast coastal views, with a buzzing vibe, fun cocktails and a seafood-heavy menu. What Sunday afternoons are made for.
Some have likened Terrigal to the Central Coast’s version of Double Bay, but it feels a bit more laid back than that. There’s definitely more of a nightlife focus here, so if you’re visiting from Sydney, best book accommodation for the night. If you’re looking to wet your whistle, check out Pocket Bar, which has an innovative cocktail list and cool boutique bar vibe. If it’s sunny, check out Mumbo Jumbo’s rooftop bar with ocean views and Caribbean décor. For dinner, everybody loves Rhonda’s, the contemporary Italian spot that feels (and tastes) a lot closer to Europe than it is. For a fine dining experience, reserve a spot at Yellowtail, fusing Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Asian flavours.
The Bon Pavilion
Unless you count the local bowlo, Gosford’s never been much of a foodie destination. That changed with The Bon Pavilion, Gosford’s esteemed ‘food empire’ that houses a bakery (Bon Bakery), a cocktail bar (Bon Bar), a casual all-day restaurant (Bon Bon) and a highly acclaimed steakhouse-style dinner spot led by chef Sean Connolly, Bonfire. Exceptionally designed, the space features striking Renaissance-inspired art by Adelaide-artist Lisa King and a captivating mural of Biripi woman Elsie Stuart.
Once you enter this low-lit, old-world, speak-easy styled Italian trattoria in Ettalong, the first thing you’ll probably do is double check Google maps to confirm you’re actually in the Central Coast. Situated seconds from the beach, this cosy cocktail bar is an unlikely addition to this small coastal town known for its family friendly beaches and stunning national park hikes. Yet here we are, sipping on espresso martinis while snacking on the best prosciutto di parma this side of Emilia-Romagna. We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto, we’re in Ettalong.