The Central Coast is home to a collection of more than 20 national parks, state forests and conservation areas, more than 40 exquisite beaches and 1,800 sq km of expansive waterways, as well as the greatest concentration of culturally significant Aboriginal sites in the Greater Sydney region. Add to that mix, a growing number of like-minded ECO-Certified businesses leading the charge for ecotourism, and it’s no wonder that this region has already been awarded a coveted spot in Green Destinations’ global Top 100 List two years running (the only region in Australia to achieve this!).
Most significantly, the NSW Central Coast is now officially accredited as an ECO Destination with Ecotourism Australia. This rigorous certification process was powered by Council’s (award-winning) Destination Central Coast team and a passionate community of local tourism operators.
IN AMONGST THE GUM TREES
TREETOPS ADVENTURE, Ourimbah State Forest (ECO Certified)
TreeTops Adventure’s flagship park is right here on the Coast in Ourimbah State Forest. You can hang around, swing, bounce or fly among the treetops for a few hours or all day. There are activities for kids and adults, for newbies and ninjas. Get up a gumtree with Vertical Challenge or bounce around in the netted canopy with giant beachballs in Networld. lovecentralcoast.com/treetops-adventure-park
ROCKY TRAIL ENTERTAINMENT, Ourimbah State Forest (ECO Certified)
Feeling active and love the thrill of the climb and the rush of the descent on two wheels? One of the major mountain bike events promoters in Australia is based right here on the Coast. Yes, it’s racing but it isn’t just about how long it takes you to get from the start to the finish. It’s also about challenging yourself in nature, the adventure you have along the way, the people you meet and the unique moments you share.
You can participate in the adrenalin-flowing, family-friendly Shimano Mountain Bike Grand Prix and Fox Superflow events. lovecentralcoast.com/rocky-trail-entertainment
SPLASHING, DASHING, DINING AND DISCOVERING IN AND AROUND THE WATER
TERRIGAL OCEAN TOURS (ECO Certified)
Owner and skipper, Andrew Jones is ex Royal Australian Navy and holds a Master’s degree in Coastal Biology. Guests on their high performance RIB eco-vessel cruise along the dramatic sandstone coastline of Broken Bay with its steep cliffs, sandy beaches and unspoilt national parks. On board you can’t help but learn interesting facts about the marine life you witness. In winter and spring the migrating humpback whales and their calves put on spectacular displays. In summer, the boat trips spot dolphins and explore wild seal and little penguin colonies in Broken Bay. lovecentralcoast.com/terrigal-ocean-tours
AQUAFUN AVOCA LAKE, Avoca (ECO Certified)
You can hire from what’s reputed to be Australia’s largest selection of modern, human-powered pedalboats, single and double kayaks and SUPs to explore the beautiful expanse of one of the Coast’s tranquil waterways. The star-shaped lagoon, with a large island at its centre, is also home to an ecologically significant and picturesque wetland, and an endangered green and golden bell frog colony. It’s a habitat for diverse and rare flora, pelicans, herons, cormorants and many other birds and wildlife. Abundant fish provide excellent fishing opportunities. Enjoy nature with minimal or no impact and support this sustainable, family-run business while you’re at it. lovecentralcoast.com/aquafun-avoca-lake
CENTRAL COAST MARINE DISCOVERY CENTRE, Terrigal (ECO Certified)
Since its major remodelling, the Centre has become more and more popular for its marine aquariums and educational displays (including ‘Dave’ – the resident Port Jackson shark – shark eggs, clown fish, whale jawbones and the much-loved seahorses), its theatrette and video displays (HMAS Adelaide and Gavin the leafy sea dragon), ship models, microscopes for budding scientists and lots of craft, painting and puzzles to keep the kids enthralled.
Kids can become Junior Marine Scientists, do the quiz, get a certificate and a free gift. Don’t miss a photo with the new giant glittery shell sculpture that welcomes you at the entrance!l lovecentralcoast.com/the-central-coast-marine-discovery-centre
SYDNEY OYSTER FARM TOURS, Mooney Mooney (ECO applicant)
Whenever you’ve dined on your favourite oysters, we bet you never thought of a white tablecloth dining experience right in the oysters’ own watery environment. Put on your waterproof waders (supplied) and Sydney Oyster Farm Tours will take you on an immersive culinary oyster farm tour at Mooney Mooney. You’ll get to meet second- and third-generation oyster farmers, visit the oyster leases on the Hawkesbury River, and taste the famous Broken Bay Oysters in an unparalleled dining experience. (Just don’t sit down at the dining table.) lovecentralcoast.com/sydney-oyster-farm-tours-mooney-mooney
A TASTE OF BUSH CULTURE
JAKE CASSAR BUSHCRAFT TOURS (ECO Applicant)
Jake Cassar is a Central Coast bushcraft teacher, tour guide and youth mentor specialising in edible, introduced and medicinal wild plants. He has spent over 20 years learning from the land and undergoing annual survival missions where he lives on only what he can hunt, catch or gather for weeks at a time. This experience, mixed with his local knowledge of wild plants and their uses, are guaranteed to make his walks and immersive bushcraft courses a life-changing way to look at the Aussie bush. lovecentralcoast.com/jake-cassar-bushcraft-tours
FACE-TO-FACE WITH WILDLIFE
AUSTRALIAN REPTILE PARK, Somersby (ECO Applicant)
Located in a natural bush setting, the Reptile Park is home to over 2,000 animals. It’s a hands-on, interactive zoo and has a long-running and life-saving antivenom program. Its new conservation exhibit, Conservation Ark, formed in conjunction with charity partner, Aussie Ark, is aimed at breeding and helping the survival of a number of endangered species.
The Park counts its massive alligator lagoon, giant Galapagos tortoises, cuddly koalas, Tasmanian devils and Elvis the cranky crocodile among its most popular attractions. There are also private tours and young zookeeper programs. lovecentralcoast.com/australian-reptile-park
HINTERLAND EXPERIENCES AND ENCOUNTERS
GLENWORTH VALLEY OUTDOOR ADVENTURES (ECO applicant)
Best known for its horse riding and the free running of hundreds of horses each evening as well as its award-winning weddings venue, Glenworth Valley is set in a beautiful bushland valley, the perfect day or weekend escape. There are unforgettable adventures on horseback or abseiling ridges, laser skirmish in the bush, kayaking in Popran National Park or glamping in the valley. Don’t miss their guided tours through rainforests, rock pools and native bushland, as well as led pony rides, gourmet picnic tours and annual festivals. lovecentralcoast.com/glenworth-valley-outdoor-adventures
IRIS LODGE ALPACAS, Jilliby (ECO Certified)
Iris Lodge Alpacas offer visits for breakfast or afternoon tea with their resident alpacas. It’s a great opportunity to experience life on a sustainable working farm. Since obtaining the property, the owners have planted over 12,000 trees and grasses so that wildlife can flourish, including the critically endangered swift parrot. Significant resources have gone into erosion control measures and protecting Jilliby Creek, that is part of the local water catchment. lovecentralcoast.com/iris-lodge-alpacas
BOUTIQUE ACCOMMODATION SURROUNDED BY NATURE
NOONAWEENA, Kulnura (ECO Certified)
Inspired by the Aboriginal word for ‘resting place in the bush’, Noonaweena is a luxury nature retreat set high in the hinterland with sweeping national park views. Biram Lodge, atop the summit of the property, has magnificent views of Mt Yengo – said to be the second most sacred Aboriginal site in Australia. Guests are free to rest, reconnect with nature and to enjoy the swimming pools, outdoor jacuzzis, a fully equipped conference room, commercial kitchen, tennis court, bush walking and mountain bike riding tracks, alfresco barbecue and entertaining areas, and wheelchair-friendly accommodation. lovecentralcoast.com/noonaweena
BELLS AT KILLCARE (ECO Applicant)
Surrounded by natural beauty, Bells at Killcare Boutique Hotel, Restaurant & Spa on the Central Coast’s Bouddi Peninsula, offers world class Hampton’s-style accommodation and is famous for its multi-award winning bar and dining – perfect for a romantic retreat or quick city escape. It is set among bushland and manicured gardens, established native flora, running streams, a tranquil lake and small ponds. Its 25 private suites and cottages sprawl over beautiful acreage close to beaches and some of Australia’s best coastal walks. lovecentralcoast.com/bells-at-killcare
PRETTY BEACH HOUSE (ECO Applicant)
Pretty Beach House is one of Australia’s most exclusive and secluded luxury lodges and sits high on the escarpment above Pretty Beach nestled into Bouddi National Park, a paradise of rugged bushland and unspoilt beaches. It’s one of Australia’s most prestigious, award-winning properties, offering an unforgettable escape to nature and with conscious links to the local Aboriginal culture. lovecentralcoast.com/pretty-beach-house
To explore more unique experiences in this certified ECO Destination, visit lovecentralcoast.com/ecotourism