Day two of our Legendary Pacific Coast road trip around the Central Coast and my two tween-age sons come good on their pinky-swear promise, made yesterday, to come for a walk along Umina Beach in the buttery light of dawn.
They need zero convincing, keenly clambering on the rocks in a nook of the beach the locals dub ‘Kiddie’s Corner’ and bending their bodies like straws, star-fishing with exuberance into the sand.
After being properly schnitzelled, breadcrumbed in sand and dirt, we have a quick dip in the sea before heading to the pool to jump and shout and splash about.
Avoca Beach: Breakfast is the next order of the day at the Point Cafe in Avoca, where the customers all seem to know each other and the morning shift has a brisk turnover. It’s easy to love a place that sits overlooking the beach, which is curled like a comma just metres from our table.
We watch one group of locals who, year-round, no matter the weather, crawl out to sea in their cossies before returning to the cafe for coffee and a chat; the retirees who, according to the animated staff, might stay from breakfast to lunch; and the young families building castles on the sand and dipping in and out of the sea.
The cafe has vases of flowers, easy listening tunes, tasty breakfast and lunch options and views that lower the blood pressure. The dishes on offer are pulled together using local produce and the chefs are flexible and talented enough to tweak to your tastes or dietary requirements. Go for Googey Eggs with toast dippers or smashed avo with baby capers, smoked salmon and poached eggs on pumpkin seed bread.
Aqua Fun: Come mid-morning, after a walk along Avoca Beach, we still have more than enough fuel in the tank for some Aqua Fun and are all thrilled at the opportunity to try out the company’s large range of people-powered watercraft.
While The Husband and I start off with the more sedate pedal boats, my two action heroes grab a watercraft that is part bike, part boat. The operation is run by Mick and Jennifer Kilp and their son Nick, who is the fourth generation of the family to be in the business of hiring out kayaks. Mick is Mr Water Man himself: his first job in the school holidays in the 70s was hiring out kayaks, and he was a deep sea fisherman for 15 years before launching the Aqua Fun venture 15 years ago.
“My grandfather hired our kayaks in Manly and my father spent the Second World War taking prisoners in kayaks. He was beyond enemy lines during World War Two in a kayak made of canvas conducting stealth missions,” says Mick, who is visibly proud of the long-standing link to the kayak, a type of canoe that was originally used by the Inuit.
After whirring about Avoca Lake for an hour or so, we all pick up the pace with a stand-up paddleboard, following a family of ducks using their spatula-like feet to get to shore and enjoying the aquarium below which is full of flying mullet, plants and frogs.
After people-powering around the waterway for a few hours, we cool our heels at The
Kincumber Hotel, the newly renovated pub that has undergone an extensive makeover. It’s got it all: there are nooks for books, trivia nights, boutique craft beers on tap, staff with a sense of humour, table tennis for the children and a really excellent range of pub grub which includes Healthy Stuff as a main, rather than an after-thought. The hotel, which once owned by journalist Mike Willesee, is one of the 52 Local Secrets to Visit the Central Coast and, judging by the lunchtime crowd, the secret is well and truly out.
Be sure to check out the boutique brews available on tap from local brewers, the Six String Brewing Co, which flings open its doors Wednesday to Sunday offering samplers and selling street food.
After enjoying octopus salad and signature Kincumber Salad of quinoa, roast pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, roast almond broccolini, alfalfa and rocket we check into our terrace suite at the Crowne Plaza Terrigal,
Settled into The Crowne Plaza Terrigal which is in the process of undergoing a tasteful renovation we spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the township of Terrigal – named after the Indigenous word that signifies a ‘place of little birds’ – playing a round of beach cricket and thrashing around in the shore break.
Our room has a restaurant directly below it which is a great spot to watch the thunder and lightning show over the sea, stretched out like sheet metal in front of us. The Florida Beach Bar – or Beery’s as the locals refer to it – is also a-clatter with the sound of pool cues and Powderfinger. It’s known to cater to raging parties on the deck out front, which is festooned with lights, but on a Monday evening the crowd is a mix of conference-goers, out-of-towners and locals loving up their neighbourhood spot.
Tomorrow, we plan to become part of the view overlooking Terrigal – by huffing and puffing up to the promontory known as the Skillion, a local landmark that offers a birds’-eye perspective over the area. The plan is to then continue exploring the Central Coast – from Erina Heights to Ourimbah State Forest, Wyong and the Entrance. From beach to bush to headland and hinterland, this stretch of the Legendary Pacific Coast really lives up to its hashtag. #mylegendarydrive indeed