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Short Trips from Sydney: The NSW Central Coast

Everybody knows that Sydney is Australia's beautiful harbour city. But not many people venture outside its borders when visiting. Just 2 hours north of Sydney is Newcastle and the spectacular beaches that follow the Central Coast.

Where is the NSW Central Coast?

The Central Coast runs for about 300kms from Gosford in the South (100kms north of Sydney) to Port Macquarie in the north. There's something for everyone around here, including the famous Hunter Valley winery region to the west.

With beaches, beaches and more beaches, you'll enjoy every minute in this beautifully down-to-earth part of Australia.

And while Sydney can be perceived as a little bit pretentious, the smaller towns and coastal villages to its north are still quiet, remote and offer travellers a unique and authentic experience of Australia's close-knit coastal communities. Starting in Sydney, pick up your campervan from our inner-city Campervan Village office and head north across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. You'll want to avoid Sydney's notorious Peak Hour traffic, so hit the road around 10am. After about 25mins of suburban driving you'll be on the freeway and well on your way to the Central Coast.

First stop along the way is Gosford, the gateway city to the Central Coast. While Gosford isn't much to look at as a city, you'll begin to feel the contrast in lifestyle from the hustle and bustle of Sydney. Most of the architecture in the region is simple, older style fibro shacks - the signature, iconic beach shack of Australia.

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20 minutes or so from Gosford is Avoca Beach and Terrigal, both popular getaway spots for Sydney-siders. The beaches are beautiful and you'll start to get that holiday feeling as the big blue Pacific Ocean opens its arms for a nice warm hug! If you love surfing, the next 900kms north-bound towards the NSW Border town of Tweed Heads will be your playground. Over summer Avoca Beach and Terrigal can become very busy with families and Sydney-siders, so if you want to get away from the crowds keep heading a north towards Newcastle. The next little coastal community is The Entrance, a quaint surf town known for its waves and friendly people. There's caravan parks and places to sleep all along the coast, but take care to notice council signage as some areas are restricted for camping.

As you continue north in your trusty campervan, the vast expanse of the Great Lakes region will fill your windscreen. There's massive expanses of lakes in this region, with unlimited opportunities to fish and play on the calm waters. About 130kms north of Sydney is the small coastal fishing town of Swansea. There's 2 campgrounds in this area, one on the picturesque lake and another right next to Blacksmiths Beach. If you're into surfing, Caves Beach about 2 minutes south of Swansea can offer excellent waves in the right conditions.

At sunset, the afternoon light bounces of the shimmering waters of the Swansea Channel as dozens of pelicans lazily feed near the bridge. If you've had enough driving for the day, find a place to camp for the night and go for a beer and a bite to eat at the Swansea Hotel. The food isn't amazing, but after a long day behind the wheel the beer will certainly taste good!

Following the coastal roads north, the next towns of Redhead and Dudley are again, very pretty and there's plenty of endless beach to escape any summer crowds. Redhead is quite a local beach as tourists often stick to the Pacific Highway on-route to Newcastle.

Newcastle is an understated gem on Australia's East Coast. If you're arriving from the south-side of the Pacific Highway, your first glimpse will be of Merewether Beach and the numerous cafes that overlook the beach. Unlike many Australian coastal communities, Newcastle have developed their city to take full advantage of its glorious beaches. So, grab a coffee and bite to eat from any of the little beach side kiosks and enjoy the view! If you've got your surfboard, Merewether, Bar Beach and Nobbys are all fantastic beach breaks in the right conditions - so prepare to get wet!

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Newcastle is a real workers town. If any of Australia's cities were to embrace socialism - it would be Newcastle! As a major shipping port and as Australia's Steel industry capital, the town has a definite working-class feel. The city centre can be very quiet on weekends, so don't expect a party town! Like Sydney, Newcastle has great Ocean baths and unbelievably beautiful beaches. But unlike Sydney, it's possible to park your campervan by the beach for free in many areas - no parking tickets!

After a day in the sun exploring all that Newcastle has to offer, get back on the road and drive that campervan over to Stockton Beach for a look at the endless sand dunes that line the coast towards Nelson Bay. Unfortunately, you'll need a 4WD to access Stockton Dunes and the old Tin Shack city (Please Note: Campervan Village does not permit any vehicles on beaches or sand). The good news though, is that there are plenty of tour operators in the region offering Quad Bike tours & 4WD Tours of the region.

And after all this, there's still so much more to the Central Coast. If you've got a campervan, you can really take advantage of the region and explore so much more! Further north, there's beautiful Nelson Bay and secluded Seal Rocks. To the West is the famous Hunter Valley Wine region. So, take your time, enjoy yourself - you'll really want to take at least 3 Days to explore the Central Coast. And even then, you'll leave with the feeling like there's still so much to explore!

If you love surfing, the next 900kms north-bound towards the NSW Border town of Tweed Heads will be your playground.

Getting There:

From Brisbane:
Take the Pacific Hwy and keep driving for about 600kms to Port Macquarie, the start of the Central Coast. Take your time though because the beaches and towns along the way (including iconic Byron Bay & relaxed Coffs Harbour) are well worth checking out!

From Sydney:
Easy! Hire a campervan from Campervan Village Sydney and hit thr road. In less than 90mins, you'll be in Gosford and the gateway to the Central Coast!

Other Information:

Take caution when swimming at local beaches. Although the sea may appear calm, there can often be rips and currents which can be dangerous for inexperienced swimmers. Be sure to swim in between the Red & Yellow flags, particularly if travelling with kids.

Road Quality:
Most Roads along Australia's East Coast are well-maintained & sealed. There are a few unsealed tracks leading to isolated beaches, but nothing too tricky. If you'd like to explore the sand dunes at Stockton Beach, you'll need to organise a tour with a 4WD Company as very few (including Campervan Village!) rental companies will permit beach & sand driving.


There’s a heap of campgrounds in the area in towns such as Avoca, Swansea, Redhead & Newcastle. If you're travelling on the cheap, there's plenty of spots to free camp in the region, but you'll need to check council signs before setting up for the night. The amenities at most beaches include a free shower and toilet, so you really can travel this area on-the-cheap!

Did You Know?

Newcastle is home to many champion Australian surfers, no more famous than 4-Time World Champion Mark Richards. It's also home to legendary Australia grunge band, Silverchair!

If you want to drive around Sydney and the NSW Central Coast and want to hire a campervan or 4WD, your friends at Campervan Village are here to help! We're located in nearby Brisbane, Sydney & Melbourne and offer great rental rates. We've also got 8 campervan rental locations across Australia, so give us a call and book your campervan today: 1800 121 421


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