Things to do on the Central Coast this Australia Day

The Central Coast is the ultimate location for Australia Day celebrations with its beaches, bushwalks and trendy new venues. While this year is a little bit restricted for events, there are still plenty of things to do in the region. Here are some super fun ideas on how to make the most of this beautiful location.

Head to a great restaurant or pub

Some claim that it would be un-Australian to celebrate Australia Day without a bevvy or two. If you are that way inclined, there are plenty of cool hot spots to enjoy the public holiday. Just make sure you confirm with the venue prior to showing up, as COVID restrictions are making things a little tricky this year.

Shady Palms is the new bar and restaurant occupying the leafy two-acre homestead at 366 Avoca Drive (previously Bombini). The restaurant is the latest Central Coast business from the team behind Mumbo Jumbos, and while there are still plenty of colourful cocktails inducing laidback island feels, Shady Palms emanates more of a vintage surf vibe than the Jamaican shack setting of its beachfront brother.

The menu has been designed to transport diners to an island paradise with fun and fresh flavours inspired by the Pacific – here you can find tacos, burgers, seafood, juicy steaks and deliciously fresh woodfired pizzas. Book a table online at shadypalms.com.au.

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Other coastie food hot spots include Yellowtail at Terrigal, a small modern Australian restaurant known as one of the best local spots for quality food and wine. There’s Plan Bee Hardy’s Bay, a trendy ‘hole in the wall’ café serving freshly made Banh Mi with house-made roast pork belly. Then there is Arc Est Terrigal, a ‘Byron meets Bali’ bistro style restaurant that has become a household name due to its unique style and service.

Go for a picnic

There are so many amazing spots for a picnic on the coast. Go for a road trip to Somersby Falls, a beautiful National Park area where you will find yourself surrounded by lush rainforest and waterfalls. We recommend stopping next to Floods Creek for some truly stunning scenery.

There is also the Coast Walking Track at Forresters Beach. Stretching north for about 1.5km, here you can find some of the most breathtaking ocean views that the Central Coast has to offer. Arrive at Crackneck Lookout and spread out a rug on the grass or set up at one of the picnic tables. You’ll be surrounded by panoramic views of Shelly Beach, views that continue along the Central Coast past Norah Head, Tuggerah Lake and The Entrance.

Local tourism operator Elixir Journeys offer X marks the spot secret picnics on the Bouddi Peninsula. Exclusive to Belle Escapes holiday home guests, clients are whisked off for the afternoon to a beautiful nature spot, and set up with an exquisitely styled picnic, that lays out a range of food and beverages from the region.

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The best part is that the experience is a complete mystery. Arrivals from Sydney simply drop off their bags, shed their city shackles and are taken to their surprise destination to enjoy a simple yet elegant picnic in a beach, bay or bush setting.

Each picnic setting is decorated to perfection, with an ambiance that helps guests let go of life’s chaos and drama, and settle into a dreamlike state of relaxation. Hampers are at the waiting filled with seasonal grazing platters and healthy beverages.

To book an X marks the spot secret picnic exclusively through Belle Escapes, contact the team on 02 4360 1717.

Backyard barbie

Why leave the house when you have a patch of grass, barbecue, esky and cricket set?

Backyard barbecues are one of the best places to get out the budgie smugglers or bikinis and enjoy time with a few mates in the comfort of your own home. If you’re lucky enough to live near one of the Central Coast’s beaches, ocean swim breaks are allowed.

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Alternatively, you could splash out this Australia Day by staying at an amazing holiday house on the beach? This option means you can enjoy the best of both worlds: a True Blue backyard barbie combined with a dash of luxury in a killer location.  

Belle Escapes offer some of the nicest beachside properties on the Central Coast, check out some of these beauties.

Looking for some budgies to enjoy the holiday? Budgysmuggler.com.au has got you covered.

Hit Westfield Tuggerah

If you love a good film followed by a tasty meal, Westfield Tuggerah are open for business over the Australia Day long weekend. 

VMAX is available at the cinemas on the 26th, or you can splash out on Gold Class at other times over the long weekend. Kids will love the new Croods flick or for the adults, Eric Bana’s The Dry is getting rave reviews.

After the movies, kids can check out Timezone or there are a plethora of food venues to explore including Grill’d, Mad Mex, The Bavarian and much more. New Westfield Kids Passes (link) are the perfect way to save some coins while spoiling the littlies.

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For the shoppers, Westfield has another great deal currently on offer. For all Westfield plus members, simply spend $50 in the centre (excluding supermarkets) and receive a free Kathmandu picnic rug (RRP: $49.99)! Not a member? Easy, download the app and join today for free.

Terms and conditions: Limited to one rug per membership. The promotion will commence on Friday 22 Jan until stocks last. Stock is limited to 300 Kathmandu rugs.

Hike to a hidden beach

The Central Coast has a few hidden beaches that are vacant for most of the year, and you may even find a quiet patch on a public holiday, depending on the time of day.

Lobster Beach is a relatively unknown strip of sand hidden between Pretty Beach and Wagstaffe on the Bouddi Peninsula. Seen from Ettalong and Umina as a petite sandy cove surrounded by towering bushland, to get here you walk up and down bush trails and multiple wooden staircases.

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But with effort comes reward. The hidden location means it’s not frequented or perhaps even known to many visitors, but it’s well worth the walk to enjoy the private beach and the views of the peninsula.

Spoon Bay near Forresters Beach is a family haven that is a lot more well known and frequented, but just as pretty. Early risers will find the beach almost empty before 8am and the bush walk down is serene and private…just as we like it.

Other coastal hidden gems include Tallow and Frazer to the north.

Jess Verrender

Jess Verrender

Jess is a journalist living on the NSW Central Coast. Coming from news.com.au she's written for realestate.com.au, interviewed celebrities such as Johnny Manuel from The Voice, Kyal and Kara from The Block, as well as model and reality TV star Elise Knowles. We're honoured to have her on our team.

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