Mural artist and owner of #MyHappyPlace
From a nautical scene at Norah Head Boat Club to an ANZAC memorial at Toukley RSL to an array of mindful murals at schools, including most recently Bluehaven Public, Ange Elder has been painting the Central Coast with eye-catching art, one bright paint stroke at a time. Transforming lacklustre walls, floors and even pathways, Ange aims to activate spaces, communicate identity and encourage engagement.
We chat to Ange about her artwork and what she loves most about the Central Coast...
What do you love most about the Coast?
I think we have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and the ocean is part of my daily life. To me, it's so inspiring and restorative and after a swim it brings me back to centre.
What are some of your greatest memories growing up on the Central Coast?
Growing up in Wyong in the 1970s I remember how great the Wyong Show used to be. An abundance of local produce, and the agricultural and animal displays were amazing. There was so much local pride in the community. And I distinctly remember the carnival rides and the Haunted House scaring the daylights out of me.
Other than that, Gosford was the go-to for entertainment. The Village Twin Cinema was huge and the only theatre around aside from Avoca Beach; and I would love to see someone bring back a roller rink like Froggy’s, which I frequented most Friday nights in the ’80s.
What do you love most about living on the Coast?
‘Seems like the obvious answer but it’s the proximity to the ocean, which for me is important. I need to see it or be in it daily. It’s inspiring and restorative. It brings me back to centre immediately, which I can’t place a value on. We have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, I think. Every single one is a postcard but I’m partial to the northern strip from Hargraves to Pelican Beach, which has recently been declared as Norah Head National Surfing Reserve, the first on the Central Coast.
What do you do in your downtime?
Hang out with family and friends. Draw. Take photos. Listen to podcasts. Swim in the sea...
What are your favourite local places to shop?
I love to trawl all the Salvos and Vinnies stores. If I want an all-day shopping fest, the main road of Long Jetty has a lot on offer. Sorry Grandma and Kloth Industrie have some great stuff and I adore Glenn McKimmin's images on constant rotation in his gallery. In Toukley, I like the vibe at Coastal Road for homewares.
Where is the first place you’d take your guest when they visit the Coast?
Norah Head Lighthouse. It’s so cool – the structure, the view, the history. Definitely take the tour! The volunteer guides are so passionate and know all the stories. Everything about it is special to me. My husband and I got married there. I just consider it the jewel in the Coast’s crown.
Where is your favourite spot for a morning coffee?
Blackfinn Espresso on Main Road at Toukley. They make my daily brew just right (and they have a pretty cool mural, too). When I’m heading south, I can’t go past Albies Coffee Bar at The Entrance without ordering a coffee to go. Or I often call in to Parklife Pop Up at Wamberal to catch up with our mate Paul Mac a whiz with anything that lands on his chopping board! Needless to say the food is amazing. He has just opened the Haven Beach Kiosk in Terrigal too, so that’s where I’m headed next.
Do you have a favourite restaurant and place to grab a drink?
I’m a sucker for the frozen margaritas and share plates at Mexicoast Cantina in Toukley. Their Salmon tostadas are to die for. For summer in Norah Head, it’s hard to go past Johnny Tapas, or Dunes Soldiers Beach. Sunsets from the upper deck while working your way through their cocktail and tapas menus are pretty hard to beat.
The Central Coast now has ECO Destination status – do you have local tips for travellers to explore our region sustainably?
Grab a pushbike, a paddleboard or a good pair of shoes and take the slow lane around the Coast. Cruise along one of the many council shared pathways, such as Budgewoi to San Remo or Long Jetty to Chittaway Bay is nice and shady. Paddle any one of our beautiful bays, or Avoca or Wamberal lagoons if you prefer still water; or hike the Red Gum Walk through our Wyrrabalong National Park. Bring a camera. It’s just such a beautiful part of the world we live in.
What is your go-to outdoors experience?
Catching a sunrise. It only lasts a minute or two, but watching that sun break the horizon is hard to beat. The colours are fantastic and the energy transforms with the light. After the show I like to take a dip, then grab coffee and croissants from BlackFinn Espresso on the way home.
What would be your one piece of advice for aspiring artists on the Coast?
Just keep making. See the occasional fail as part of the process. The more you do, the more you learn. Every master was once an apprentice, and it’s really about how hard you’re willing to try. And then get up the next day and try again.
What have you been working on recently?
I have done a couple of really cool private commissions including murals in local Airbnbs. The most recent one is The Blackwall Tiny House project. I loved doing the one at Ohana on Hutton at North Entrance too. It’s the kind of work I’d like to pursue further. Some more school projects are coming up at the northern end of the Coast, and I’ve just painted some walls at Kincumber Hotel which has had a complete makeover. Then I’m looking for a public wall to donate a mural which highlights support for mental health on the Coast. If you have one, let’s talk!
This article was originally authored by Megan Arkinstall and photography by Liam Jon, as part of a Love Central Coast grant project brought to you by Destination Central Coast, and jointly funded by the Australian and NSW governments under the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund. To maintain accuracy, some editorial changes may have been made since publication.