Regular readers know that I’m a HUGE advocate for travel within your own back yard.
See your state, see Australia!
I’m also a long time fan of the mini-break.
Road tripable destinations that are close to home for an escape with minimum fuss. Throw a bag in the car, queue a great playlist and hit the highway. You know the kind…
I’ve been to the Central Coast many, many times.
Just an hour out of Sydney (where I live) it’s long been a no-brainer for quick beach holidays plus fond memories of idyllic days spent there with my grandparents.
However the Central Coast is a region on the make with a scene that’s getting cooler by the minute.
I spent the past weekend with my family swimming, eating, hiking and bathing in the last rays of summer an am sharing my favourite NSW holiday experiences for the #ILoveNSW campaign.
Join me and upload your own NSW moments with using #ILoveNSW to www.visitnsw.com/ilovensw . The best videos selected will feature in a collection of films produced by Destination NSW and go into the draw to win Canon Camera Packs.
Here’s my eat, play, stay guide.
Where To Stay.
Bells at Killcare Boutique Hotel, Restaurant & Spa sits high on the southern most tip of the central coast region nestled along one of the most scenic stretches of coast in NSW.
The immaculate Hamptons inspired property is all about relaxed luxury, with the homestead and cottages surrounded by rolling lawns, majestic trees and the beautiful golden light that’s unique to this part of the state.
There are 25 rooms peppered around the grounds of this boutique hotel. Each of the stand alone cottages look like designer beach cabanas straight out of the pages of Architectural Digest.
Decorated in beach neutrals with lots of blue and white stripe the accommodation ranges from king spa suites to lakeview villas and luxe two-storey bungalows.
It’s seriously difficult to leave the rooms. They’re designed for comfort and staying put. The linen, pillows and mattress are all delicious.
We had a gorgeous view of the lake from our private, day-bedded balcony, a gas fireplace, and the worlds comfiest (tobacco linen covered) couch. You could literally not leave your room – except to hang out in the world’s most luxe tub.
Which I did. Everyday.
A large rectangular swimming pool hugs the edge of the homestead. Guests can sun bake, swim and read here all day – and they do.
It is South of France meets British countryside complete with local ducks and the chicest lounges I’ve ever laid on.
And then there are the Adirondack chairs scattered throughout the gardens. Literally everywhere. In perfect pairs with matching white umbrellas. All of them screaming: “Stop, sit down and take a load off”.
The food is an event and an absolute highlight of the stay.
The resort is home to Bells at Killcare Restaurant & Bar and breakfast, lunch and dinner you will never be sad.
Buffet breakfast on the covered verandah is just a pleasure. Bathed in sunlight, sitting in overstuffed chairs, sipping good coffee and nibbling house made pastries – life could be a lot tougher.
At night the navy walls of the dining room come alive and the menu tempts with Italian at it’s best. Pastas, whole fish, burrata with walnut and witlof, heirloom carrots in local honey and ricotta, roast chicken, ceviche…you will want it all. You can catch the ferry from Palm Beach and head to Bells at Killcare Restaurant & Bar for lunch.
Just call ahead and the staff will organise to collect you from Patonga wharf.
However the true stars are the staff.
From the front desk to the resturant the service is faultless, often an issue on regional stays.
Bells at Killcare is designed for couples, romance and rest – absolutly the best luxury accomodation on the coast
For more information: Bells at Killcare, 107 The Scenic Road, Killcare Heights or call (02) 4349 7000.
Central Coast Must-Do’s
Let’s get this straight.
There’s is so much to do on the Central Coast that you’re going to need to keep coming back to tick all of the boxes. NO matter what your speed – water, bush, food, wine – there are a thousand moments to capture.
This is what we did with our 48 sun filled hours last weekend.
If you are still yet to join the SUP (Stand Up Paddle Board) Party then it’s time to lock this thing down.
Nothing beats it for fun and fitness.
All four Joye’s are competent (ish) and we spent the morning cruising around the pristine waters of stunning Pearl Beach.
We enlisted ManaSUP Stand-Up Paddle School which meant everything was done for us.
Boards on the beach, cool baseball caps and expert tuition from Paul Quirk and his team. Saxon and I were able to paddle out while the kids were in safe hands in the bay.
Early morning is generally the best time for calmer water SUP but for the more adventurous you can learn to ride waves at Umina Beach just around the corner. To book a lesson head to www.manasup.com
Explore, wander and then explore some more.
There are so many special water spaces on the Central Coast. The rock pools in this part of the state are famous for their marine life and geology.
We spent an afternoon wandering around the cliffs and rock platforms between Pearl and Patonga Beach.
You must, must, must have lunch at Pearls.
Located right on the sands of Pearl Beach, this iconic restaurant combines the relaxed vibes of a beach house with fine dining. A luxe destination for over fourteen years, Pearls is a bucket list foodie spot and delivers incredibly developed food in a beautifully approachable way.
To make a reservation head to www.pearlsbythebeach.com.au
Horseriding in Glenworth Valley.
Goodness gracious. This is Hobbit Country.
Stunning beyond words with a facilities, horses and teachers that are world class.
We had the most magnificent two hour trail ride through pristine bushland. Creeks, wombats, ghost gums – it was proper Man From Snowy River stuff.
We booked in for our ride on the way home to Sydney – this is the way to do it. Not only does it make sense geographically but if you ride at the end of the day you can watch the horses herded and it’s a beautiful sight.
Two hundred horses running as a wild mob against the most epic NSW back drop.
To book an adventure head to www.glenworthvalley.com.au
New South Wales is full of great pubs.
Few are greater than the pub at Patonga.
Sitting under an umbrella of Norfolk pines a well deserved shandy tastes pretty damn good.
I’ve heard the fish and chips from the dining room are extraordinary which means we’re headed back to this unassuming icon sometime soon.
Located the pretty foreshore of Ettalong Beach, BOX on the Water has gun barrel views across Broken Bay to its namesake – Box Beach. Designed with a cool, minimal aesthetic this restaurant is all about supercharged flavour and good time vibes.
We stayed in the safe hands of our waiter Alastair and had incredible king fish ceviche with finger lime and flash fried snapper with tamarind jam.
To make a reservation head to www.boxonthewater.com
The lungs of the Central Coast are the Bouddi National Park.
There are countless incredible walks, hikes and treks for all fitness levels.
We hiked down to Maitland Bay and then over to Putty Beach which was breathtaking and a great work-out.
Plan your walks here: www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/tings-to-do/walking-tracks/bouddi-coastal-walk
Stop at all the look-outs.
There are many. They are well sign posted.
And gives you vistas like this one.
There are not enough adjectives to describe my love for this special restaurant.
It’s one part Italian, one part Aussie fibre shack, a little Miami Beach with a sprinkle of Moroccan interiors.
Fabulous on every level. I instantly wanted to bring all my friends and sip drinks under their white painted palm trees on sumptuous day beds.
Then…there was the food.
Died. Gone… To Heaven.
Don’t forget to take a loaf of their bread home with you.
Because that’s all you’ll want to eat for the rest of your life.
To make a reservation head to www.bombini.com.au
My Travel Diary.