Exploring the Central Coast with Eleanor

Exploring the Central Coast with Eleanor

Embrace coastal life with local tips to guide you around the Central Coast
Eleanor Pendleton
Gritty Pretty, Founder and Publisher, Terrigal

We recently chatted with Gritty Pretty Founder & Publisher and Terrigal local, Eleanor Pendleton, about her latest winter adventures on the NSW Central Coast. Here, she shares her favourite spots to stay, places to eat and things to do.

Born and raised at St. Hubert’s Island on the NSW Central Coast, Eleanor Pendleton’s local knowledge is filled with over 30 years of exploring along the peninsula. When visiting any destination, there’s nothing quite like hearing about the best secret spots from a local so we asked the multi-award winning beauty journalist and mother-of-two to share with us her favourite things to do during the cooler months.

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Visit a Shellar Door

I can’t quite believe I lived on the Central Coast for so long and this is my first time visiting Broken Bay Pearl Farm. This is a must-visit — grab your favourite people and take a cruise past Spectacle Island and down the Mooney Mooney Creek. Together with my husband and father-in-law, we did the Private Lunch Cruise, which was such a perfect way to take in the day and spend quality time together.  As you cruise the water, you’ll be grazing on a delicious lunch from Salt Pig Deli and of course, the freshest oysters. Our wonderful guide Steph was so hospitable, it was just a magical experience from start to finish.

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Freshly shucked oysters from Broken Bay Oyster Farm, Mooney Mooney
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Broken Bay Oyster Farm, Mooney Mooney

Where to stay

If you like hotels Crowne Plaza Terrigal is centrally located opposite Terrigal Beach and next to cafes, restaurants and boutiques. Bells at Killcare offers beautiful accommodation. Their restaurant (The Wild Flower Bar & Dining) offers delicious food and worth a visit for a long lunch, even if you aren’t able to stay overnight.  Aqua Verde Terrigal is also super special, it’s a huge property with sprawling views and it would be ideal to share with other couples, friends or family for a weekend away.

Some other airbnb options include: Bettys North Avoca, Ahara House, Toowoon Beach House, Anchor in Avoca Beach. For a truly luxurious stay, look no further than Pretty Beach House. For a kid-free getaway, Kims Beachside Retreat at Toowoon Bay can’t be beat for its location and seafood fare.


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Ahara House Killcare

Where to eat and drink 

The food on the Central Coast has diversified a lot since I was a young girl growing up. There’s some really incredible talent coming out of kitchens. The new kid on the block, Lago Cucina in Budgewoi, is a must-visit for its spectacular Italian and modern Australian dishes and Instagram-worthy interiors.

My all-time favourite is Yellowtail Restaurant. Located in the heart of Terrigal, the seasonal menu and impressive wine list never disappoints.

If you love Asian fusion, The Lucky Bee in Ettalong is excellent. For the seafood lovers, enjoy the menu and spectacular ocean views The Cowrie, Terrigal has to offer.

If you’re looking for somewhere with great cocktails, you can’t go past Pocket Bar and Rhonda's Bar! And, if you want to enjoy some live music you can’t go past Terrigal Beach House, or pop down to Macs Beach Café at MacMasters Beach on a Sunday afternoon for live music and amazing views. It’s a locals favourite.”

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Italian inspired cuisine, Lago Cucina, Budgewoi
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Contemporary Mediterranean interior at Lago Cucina, Budgewoi

Where to do go for dip

We spend any spare moment we have at the beach with our young kids. For the little ones, we love Toowoon Bay, Blue Bay and Spoon Bay. They’re nice and gentle for the kids, but still absolutely beautiful spots to park up for the day and embrace the coastal life.

If you’re a keen surfer, Avoca Beach and Shelly Beach often have good waves.

The Central Coast is over 1,600kms, 80kms of which is just coastline and beautiful beaches so we’re very spoiled for choice. How lucky are we?!


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Blue Bay
Photo by Grace Picot

Fun activities with the kids

Some activities that come to mind include Iris Lodge Alpacas at Jilliby, where you can have breakfast with the alpacas (how incredible is that?). Plus, pay a visit to the Australian Reptile Park. Located at Somersby, it’s an ideal pit stop when you either arrive or are leaving the Central Coast. Your kids will love seeing Australian native animals. Plus, you can pat a free-range kangaroo or a koala – it’s the perfect experience animal-obsessed little ones.

Kids love parks and Vera’s Water Garden at The Entrance is a fun toddler water fountain, full of quirky colourful statues and spurting fountains. For the bigger kids, Banjo’s Skate Park is a hit. Terrigal’s Park Life also offers a fully-fenced playground complete with flying box and a café for the parents who enjoy coffee (essential).

Want to go beyond the Central Coast? The ferry from Ettalong, Wagstaffe and Patonga takes you straight across the heads to Palm Beach. We often like to catch the ferry, take the kids straight to the park next to Palm Beach wharf or have lunch at Barrenjoey House before catching the ferry home (they depart hourly). You can even spot some whales, dolphins and seals on your ride.

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Iris Lodge Alpacas
Photo by Nosomumsy
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Koalas at the Australian Reptile Park
Photo by soph.goes.wild

Written by Eleanor Pendleton with photography by Chantell Brown (Bianchi Photography) as part of the Central Coast region's inspiring local community supported by Love Central Coast.