New South Wales Central Coast: A playground in the sun

By Andrew Vadas, Contributor

Australian Reptile ParkNEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA -- Just beyond the Hawkesbury River on Sydney's northern boundary lies a rich playground of unspoiled golden beaches, placid lakes, lush rainforest walks and superb National Parks known as the Central Coast.

A favorite weekend escape for Sydneysiders, the Central Coast offers visitors a chance to experience some of Australia's most beautiful natural wonders just an hour out of the big smoke. The area boasts numerous coastal towns and villages, and a host of interesting attractions to visit.

And, of course, you may like to visit a golf course or two in your travels. Interested? Well, strap yourself in...we're off to the Central Coast.

Our tour guide is long time Central Coast resident Darren Chivas, who is the club pro at Everglades Country Club. Darren has played all the courses on the coast, and gives us his views on some of the best features as we make our way around.

Everglades Country ClubEverglades Country Club
Address: Dunban Road, Woy Woy.
Professional: Darren Chivas. Phone: 4341-3399. Number of holes: 18. Par: 68. Length: 5187m. About the course: Immaculately presented. The layout places an emphasis on the mid irons. Well-bunkered with small targets making the short game important. Darren's views: "Perhaps I'm a little biased, but Everglades is a must-visit. It's a great wet weather course, and a friendly walking course. If it's on-site accommodation you're looking for, the Glades Motor Inn is situated opposite the 1st tee. And we have great beaches nearby, with Umina and Ettalong being the pick."

Gosford Golf Club
Address: Racecourse Road, Gosford.
Professional: Mark Churcher. Phone: 4325-1856. Number of holes: 18. Par: 71. Length: 5804m. About the course: The Coast's oldest and perhaps most prestigious course. Features a backdrop of Narara Creek and magnificent tree-lined ridges. Dogleg holes make length control important. Darren's views: "It's always a pleasure to play the coast's oldest course, with its variety being a feature. The close proximity to shops, restaurants, motels and Gosford City make it a very handy location."

Lakeside Golf Club
Address: Boyce Avenue, Wyong.
Phone: 4353-1105. Number of holes: 13. Par: 45. Length: 2409m. About the course: Short, flat course which provides easy going for elderly players. Small greens demand accurate iron play from all players. A good non-threatening course for beginners. Darren's views: " This is a quiet, unassuming and fun course, making it ideal for social play. If the nearby Wyong course is too intimidating, then this is the one for you."

Mangrove Mountain Memorial Golf Club
Address: Hallards Road, Central Mangrove. Professional: Bob Payne Phone: 4373-1075. Number of holes: 10. Par: 70. Length: 5137m. About the course: Set high in mountain country, this course boasts amazing views. Some holes involve a climb, but the views and abundant wildlife make it well worth the effort. Darren's views: "A very challenging course, with fast greens which can deceive. Don't forget to check out the great views from the clubhouse."

Terrigal Memorial Country Club
Address: Dover Road, Wamberal.
Professional: Scott Cubis Phone: 4384-5691. Number of holes: 9. Par: 33. Length: 2523m. About the course: Tree-lined fairways and water hazards mean that golfers who are prepared to sacrifice distance for accuracy will be rewarded. Elevated greens are challenging. Darren's views: "A very testing nine holes, but a great place to visit, with the Crowne Plaza Resort on Terrigal Beach being a sure-fire winner with travelers."

Toukley Golf Club
Address: Key Street, Toukley.
Professional: Greg Lewis Phone: 4397-2309. Number of holes: 18. Par: 72. Length: 6199m. About the course: Flat championship course with contrasting nines. Close to The Lakes Beach. Tight and testing in places. Natural setting makes it a highly enjoyable walk. Darren's views: "This course provides a good test of golf skills, which will reward more accomplished players. The club also provides excellent practice facilities."

Tuggerah Lakes Golf ClubTuggerah Lakes Golf Club
Address: Shelly Beach Road, Shelly Beach.
Professional: Mark Sullivan. Phone: 4332-1103. Number of holes: 18. Par: 71. Length: 6083m. About the course: A spectacular seaside links-style course. Long par-4s can be tough to reach when the ocean winds pick up. First three holes have been reworked. Unforgettable views. Darren's views: "Yes, the weather certainly plays a big part in scoring, but the views will take your mind off a bad game. And the beautiful Shelley Beach is merely an errant shot away."

Wyong Golf Club
Address: Pacific Highway, Wyong.
Professional: Duncan Pedrana. Phone: (02) 4352-1511. Number of holes: 18. Par: 72. Length: 6078m. Course record: 69 About the course: Testing championship course with flat, lush kikuyu fairways lined by abundant eucalypt trees and magnificent gardens. Generous fairways help social players to enjoy the round. Darren's views: "An enjoyable and relaxing course, which is well manicured all year round."

Attractions

Old Sydney Town is an historic theme park, and is the largest heritage park in New South Wales. It depicts Australia's birthplace and development from 1788 to 1810.

Glenworth Valley Horse Riding

Experience spectacular rainforest trails and lush green valleys on horseback at Australia's largest horse riding center. Your choice of Free Range or Guided Rides through 2,500 acres of scenic coastal hinterland with tall trees, winding creeks and natural rock pools to swim in.

Australian Reptile Park

Discover the magic of the Australian bush and native animals at the famous Australian Reptile Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. Have a photo with cuddly koalas or gigantic pythons, watch platypus, wombats, dingoes and Tasmanian devils being fed. Visit the Park's newest attraction 'Spider World' and the 'Lost World of Reptiles'.

Traveling to the Central Coast

By Car ... an easy one hour's drive north from Sydney along the Freeway.

Airport Transfers ... Central Coast Airbus (1 300 367 470) provides a frequent service to the Central Coast between Sydney Domestic and International Airport Terminal and Sydney City 7 days a week.

Surface to Air (4325 3000) provides a pick up and delivery service to and from both the International and Domestic Airports to the Central Coast.

By Train ... Trains depart from Sydney Central Station to the Central Coast approximately every half hour and provide an efficient service. Train timetables are available from stations where train tickets can be purchased, or phone 13 1500 for timetables, train arrivals and fare enquiries. Country Link Reservations phone 13 2232.

By Sea Plane ... For a totally different experience, charter a seaplane from Sydney (departs Rose Bay) to the Central Coast. Traveling time approximately 20 minutes.

Where to stay

The Central Coast has numerous types of accommodation, from cabins and guesthouses to five-star luxury hotels. Check an accommodation guide at http://www.ltl.com.au/centralcoast/ccaccommodation.htm

Where to eat

Dining out on the Central Coast offers a truly international choice of cuisines and culinary delights. Restaurateurs take pride in serving fresh food of the highest standard and there's a dining experience to suit every occasion - from casual bistros, chic sidewalk and alfresco cafes to elegant award winning fine dining.

Andrew VadasAndrew Vadas, Contributor

Andrew Vadas has formal qualifications in Business, Journalism and Sports Training and Psychology. He holds a Bachelor of Business degree, a Diploma of Journalism and holds various certificates in sports training and psychology.


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