From reptile parks to rainforest retreats: How to tour Australia in a day without leaving the Coast

Keeper feeding a crocodile at teh The Australian Reptile Park

Australian Reptile Park, photo by James Horan

Keeper feeding a crocodile at teh The Australian Reptile Park

Australian Reptile Park, photo by James Horan

There’s no denying it, the Central Coast is known for its pristine beaches, friendly locals and laidback lifestyle, and in 2023 our beloved Central Coast is now being dubbed New South Wales mini- Australia.
From reptile parks to reputable retreats and trendy attractions, continue reading to see where you can visit some iconic things to do in this Australian oasis, that is the Central Coast.

With a growing number of travellers now visiting the Central Coast to get a true taste of Aussie culture, both visitors and locals have taken a liking to the coast’s authentically Australian, restaurants, attractions and landmarks. Touching on the coast's traditionally Aussie lifestyle, we like to think of this as a Central Coast-themed tour of Australia.

Whether travelling around Australia in a campervan is not particularly your scene, or better yet…you are a local simply not wanting to leave the coast, this itinerary will equip all visitors with a true taste of Australia – all within the confines of our local coastline.

Koala bear in a ftree eating gum leaf
Get up close and personal with a koala at Australian Reptile Park
Photo by James Horan
Echidna drinking water
Meet the locals at Australian Reptile Park
Photo by James Horan
Visit the Australian Reptile Park

Few Australians would argue that there’s nothing more Aussie than getting up close and personal with some of the country's most native and endangered wildlife – and that’s exactly what’s on offer at the Central Coast’s Australian Reptile Park.

Located in Somersby just off the M1 Pacific Highway, The Australian Reptile Park is home to roughly 50 reptile species. Since opening in 1958, the wildlife park has become an essential pit stop for both local and interstate travellers.

With the reputable reptile park being known as a “hands-on, interactive zoo”, visitors can expect everything from python-holding photo sessions to free-range kangaroo feeding. That said, if being up close and personal with animals is not quite your – or your little ones – favourite thing to do, the park also offers a variety of private tours and caged viewings.

To avoid possible queues, we recommend purchasing park tickets ahead of your trip.

Surfer is aqua blue ocean on Central Coast
Give surfing a go at Central Coast surf Academy
Photo by Darren Anderson Photography
Learn to surf at The Central Coast Surf Academy

Whilst it’s not Bondi, learning to surf on the Central Coast has grown to become a top attraction for many looking to master the water sport. Aware of this growing trend, The Central Coast Surf Academy (CCSA), decided to launch a series of surfing lessons across Avoca, Terrigal, Toowoon Bay, Shelly Beach, Wamberal, MacMasters, and Copacabana.

May you be a basic beginner or a seasoned professional looking to refine their skills, the CCSA offers a variety of surfing lessons for children through to adults – not to mention an all-female class for ladies.

Alternatively, if you are a business owner looking to boost your team’s morale, the CCSA also hold corporate sessions for businesses and local organisations.

ladies eating oyster in the Hawkebury River
Immerse Yourself tour at Sydney Oyster Farm Tours
Plate of three shucked oysters
Feast on the freshly shucked oysters at Sydney Oyster Farm Tours
Shuck an oyster at one of Mooney Mooney oyster farm tours

Situated just 45 minutes outside of Sydney’s CBD, positioned on the skirts of the Hawkesbury River, Sydney Oyster Farm is an experience like no other.

With each ‘Oyster Farm Tour’ tour running for roughly an hour and a half, attendees will be treated to a visit to an operating oyster farm, Hawkesbury River boat ride to the oyster leases and a very refreshing tasting session of the coast’s iconic Broken Bay Oysters.

Aside from their original Oyster Farm Tour, the local seafood business also offer two more slightly luxurious tours – known as the ‘Immerse Yourself’ and ‘Oyster Elegance’ Tours – for those visitors looking for a more tailored and personal experience.

What’s more…the family-owned and run Oyster farm, are committed to environmental sustainability and therefore work to abide a green purchasing policy. This policy sees the business prioritise biodegradable and recyclable products with minimal packaging.

Meat pie cut in half
Bite into a locally made Shhmoakesy Pie
Photo by Green Tangerine Long Jetty
Pie on a bed of gravy and mash
Pie Perfection
Photo by Shhmoakesy
Feast on the Coast’s top tasting meat pies

Named the best pie shop in Australia by Wotif’s Unique Aussie Awards, it’s not hard to see why Shhmoakesys Gourmet Pies remains a cult favourite amongst locals and travellers alike.

Despite providing a variety of tasty pies to select Central Coast cafes and seasonal markets, the Kincumber-based company is renowned for its smoked-filled pies that are prepared over eight hours – yes, you did indeed read that right – by maker and owner, Chris Oakes.

Specialising in brisket and chicken pies, Oakes also takes pride in his business's delicious gluten-free pies which are equally as popular as their wheat-filled counterparts.

You'll find Shhmoakesys Pies at a number of local markets as well as select Central Coast cafes. Keen to enjoy your pastry delights in the comfort of your own home? Shhmoakesy also offer online ordering and home delivery for those located on the Central Coast.

glamping tents
Glamourous glamping at Glenworth Valley
Photo by Simple Pleasures Camping Co
Horses running through creek
Horses running through Popran Creek at Glenworth Valley
Photo by Ken Duncan
Go glamping in Glenworth Valley

Aware that many travelling to the Central Coast may want to experience Australia’s rustic bushland without the typical, mosquito-eating, camping experience, Glenworth Valley Wilderness Adventures have launched a luxurious – yet authentic – glamping experience.

Situated just 15 minutes from Gosford, Glenworth Valley’s selection of glamping campsites are dotted along the area's infamous Popran Creek. Whether you are after a basic glamping set-up – think tent, mattress and cooking utensils – or an ultra-luxe offering, Glenworth Valley. Wilderness Adventures offer three different glamping experiences to ensure there is something suited to every style of glamper.

Glamping for more than one night? Glenworth Valley also offers a variety of attractions and activities including, quad biking, kayaking, axe throwing and more.

Now known as the largest horse-riding centre in the southern hemisphere, it's also only expected that we encourage guests to participate in one of the area’s many horse-riding attractions. From guided pony rides to horse-riding lessons and an iconic running of the horse's experience, there are many opportunities to interact with the beautiful animal.

Bushwalk at Bulgandry Aboriginal art site

Tucked away just off Woy Woy Road in Brisbane Water National Park, in Bulgandry Aboriginal Art Site. Located near the small township of Kariong, you will find some truly amazing Aboriginal rock art most of them more than 200 years old. 

Interestingly, the name 'Bulgandry' belongs to the large engraving of a man thought to represent an ancestral Great Creator God, Baiyami, depicted with an impressive headdress. 

The site is sacred to the local Indigenous people, and in order to protect and preserve the carvings a short, flat boardwalk has been built to tour you around each image. The symbols include a wallaby, fish, dolphin and what's thought to be a canoe and a bird.

This is a valuable insight of Aboriginal traditions and culture.  To visit, look for the signs along Woy Woy Road to turn off and park at the start of the walk. 

Bay Rd brewing
Inside Bay Rd Brewing, Gosford
Gossy Good Times NEW beer Bay Rd Brewing
Have Gossy Good Times! with Bay Rd Brewing's newest beer
Photo by Bay Rd Brewing
Make a pitt stop at one of ohe Coast’s trendiest microbrewery’s

Whether it’s the festive season or a humid Sunday afternoon, we Aussies sure do love our beer, and with several breweries now calling the Central Coast home, it appears so do our locals. One brewery continuously being dubbed as the trendiest of the bunch, is Gosford-based microbrewery and taproom, Bay Rd Brewing.

Created in 2018, by founders and friends Grant, Darren and Sam, Bay Road’s leading man and local Coastie Simon Maxwell, is now at the forefront of the business after being promoted to head brewer, by brewing director Grant Buckham.

With industrial-esque-inspired interiors, the repurposed warehouse diversifies itself in that it actually welcomes a wealth of natural light. Featuring only the funkiest of mural paintings by local artist Grant Molony, Bay Rd is unique in that it is truly one of a kind.

Positioned in only walking distance to the Central Coast Stadium, Bay Rd also makes for the perfect pre or post-match pitt stop.

Avocados growing in a tree
Pick your own Avocado at Meliora Farm
Photo by Meliora Farm
Avocados growing in a tree
Pick your own Avocado at Meliora Farm
Photo by Meliora Farm
Go avocado picking at Meliora Farm

Located in Peats Ridge, Meliora Farm’s unique Avocado picking experience is almost as Aussie as it gets – I mean, what Australian is not eating Avocado toast these days.

Harvested from August till late January, the pick-your-own Avocado fruit experience enables visitors to do just that. Whilst it may seem quite straightforward, the unique experience is a fun hands-on learning activity, designed for all ages.

With a $30 Meliora farm bag allowing visitors to pick up to approximately 12kg worth of fruit, you are bound to walk away with enough avo’s to last the month – or more, for that matter.

After plucking your Avocados of choice, visitors are encouraged to soak up the farm's natural scenery with a post-picking picnic.

Established in 1925, today Meliora Farm is operated by locals Tim and Elise Kemp, who are undoubtedly passionate about continuing the farm's legacy as a friendly and welcoming local attraction.

Considering that Meliora is a Latin word meaning better or best, it also comes as no surprise to hear loyal customers label the farm's Avocados as some of the best on the coast. Whether you prefer it smashed or sliced you're bound to leave Meliora Farm, with a wealth of avo inspiring
cooking ideas. 

This article was originally authored by Phoebe Blogg as part of Love Central Coast's support for the region's Maker & Creator community. To maintain accuracy, some editorial changes may have been made since publication. 

This project has been funded under the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund, co-funded by the Australian and NSW governments.