It isn’t long after you leave Sydney heading north that the asphalt streets and sardine traffic gives way to hidden waterways, long expanses of yellow beach and a slower pace of life. Central Coast New South Wales is within reach of residents with a spare weekend, or tourists wanting a taste of something less metropolitan.
“Where are all the people?” an English friend once said to me about Australian beaches, especially those close to major cities. Of course the answer is that there are so many beaches close to the cities that Australians can spread out. (There was a whole tourism marketing campaign based on this and filmed on Fingal Beach, Port Stephens.)
The northern end of this region includes the lighthouse-adorned headlands of Arakoon National Park where prisoners built their own gaol in the late 1800s. Not far south, the town of Port Macquarie is the place where a little patch of rainforest touches the beach and koalas are nurtured back to health. South again and Port Stephens is a family-friendly Mecca with the largest sand dunes in the southern hemisphere, playful dolphins and so many activities you could easily stay a month.Travel further only an hour north of Sydney to find treetop adventure parks, hungry pelicans and theme parks that make this region a perfect escape if Sydney is your home or base.
It just goes to prove that a great holiday is not measured by the distance you travel from home. In fact, when it comes to travel with kids, the closer you can stay to home and still meet their needs, the fewer times you are likely to hear “Are we there yet?”
Image courtesy Hamilton Lund Tourism NSW