Here on the Central Coast, we enjoy one of the world’s best climates as well as incredible access to nature at its wildest via the many local walking tracks.
As well as connecting us to our history and heritage, getting out into the bush has amazing health benefits. Walking is one of the best forms of gentle exercise for overall health and can be enjoyed by almost anyone with ‘two feet and a heartbeat’. It can also make a positive difference to your mental wellbeing. It is believed by many that an outdoor walk can reduce stress and anxiety.
All about the 5 Lands Walk
Have you heard of the 5 Lands Walk? It gives a nod to our friends over in Italy.
Clustered along the historic Italian Riviera are five postcard-perfect villages. The famous walk that takes you through all five is known as the Cinque Terra Trail. If you set a decent pace, the walk will take you around six hours. However, many hikers give themselves a few days so they can stop in at each town and take in the highlights.
If a trip to Italy isn’t on your agenda, the next best thing is the Central Coast’s 5 Lands Walk.
Now in its 14th year, this event takes participants along tracks from MacMaster’s Beach to Terrigal. The 10km walk showcases some of the finest coastlines in the country and is unmissable for any avid or novice walker of almost any age.
Not only is the coastline stunning, but the 5 Lands Walk is timed to correspond with the northern whale migrations. Stunning views will be amplified by the sight of the majestic sea mammals heading for warmer waters.
More than just a hike, the 5 Lands Walk is an immersive cultural experience. The trail leads to five different festivals held at surf clubs along the coast. You can enjoy art and entertainment, food and workshops at every stop.
The 5 Lands Walk is organised with close cooperation and a strong appreciation of the traditional occupants, the Darkinjung people, and you can enjoy some of their traditional arts and ceremonies. Other local ethnic communities, including Phillipino, African and Latino also have a strong presence, which creates a truly multicultural experience.
During the cooler months, there is no better way to exercise, enjoy nature and immerse yourself and your family in various cultures without having to leave the Central Coast.
Find out more about the 5 Lands Walk by visiting their website.
Best bushwalks close to Mingara Recreation Club: Kincumba Mountain
For a variety of stunning bush walks from easy to hard terrain, head straight for Kincumber Mountain. This large reserve boasts beautiful bushland as well as caves and wildlife. Located just outside Gosford, the reserve is the ideal place a casual wander with the family or a decent hike for seasoned walkers.
If walking is not your speed, Kincumber is also a favourite destination for mountain bikers. Just make sure to stay off the walkers-only tracks.
Highly rated on Tripadvisor, people love this spot for picnics and even outdoor weddings.
Best whale watching walk: Wyrrabalong National Park
When it comes to walking tracks on the Central Coast, don’t overlook Wyrrabalong National Park. Not only is it just minutes from The Entrance, it is also one of the best places in Australia to see migrating whales.
With several stunning walking trails and some of the most beautiful picnic areas in the country, Wyrrabalong is well worth a visit. Keep an eye out for a spout of water from a migrating humpback, then cross your fingers for a breathtaking moment as the whales leap out of the water.
Wyrrabalong also boasts the largest stand of Sydney red gums on the Central Coast. These stunning, shady trees make for an ideal walk and give you a true sense of the NSW bush.
Winter is peak whale-watching time at Wyrrabalong and offers some of the best displays of migrating whales in the world. At Crackneck lookout in June, you can see whales breaching, tail slapping and generally frolicking as they head north.
In summer, you can enjoy a swim at one of the park’s beautiful beaches and spring brings an amazing array of wildflowers.
Parking is readily available once you drive north on Wilfred Barren Drive. Visit this website for more information.
Best general access: Entrance Heritage walk
The Entrance Heritage walk takes you around The Entrance, a historic and beautiful part of the Central Coast. The Entrance marks the special place where the sea connects to stunning Tuggerah Lake. A popular holiday destination, it is very easy to get to The Entrance; simply head along the A49 to Marine Parade.
On this walk, you’ll find pictures and stories of days gone by, and “learn the landscape, lifestyle and larrikins that helped create The Entrance.”
With an average rating of 4.5 on TripAdvisor, people describe this walk as beautiful and restful. They also rave about the informative signposts along the walk that are filled with historical facts about the area. For an easily accessible walk full of history and stunning views you can’t go past The Entrance Heritage walk.
Find out more at visitcentralcoast.com.au
Best bushwalk for kids: Patonga to Pearl Beach
If you’re trying to find a Central Coast walking track that’s great for the whole family, look no further than the Patonga to Pearl Beach walk.
A great walk for the warmer weather, it is recommended to bring your bathers as there are beaches at both ends of this coastal track. This easy and casual walk means kids should have no problem keeping up. Also rated 4.5 on Tripadvisor, reviewers love the lookout, the stunning red gums and the family-friendly nature of this Central Coast walking track.
Parking is simple if you head towards the boat ramp off Patonga Drive. There is even a bus that will get you to several stops along the route. This walk is a real ‘pearl’ and a keen eye may even spot ancient aboriginal rock art. Pack your swimmers, bring the family and keep your eyes peeled along the way.
And one more: Best short track: Girrakool Aboriginal Engravings Track
This short but sweet, easy track takes just ten minutes to complete and is one of the many walks on offer at Brisbane Waters National Park.
The wild walks website suggests you follow a well-maintained track from the Girrakool Picnic area to a large rock platform, where you will see ancient engravings of a man and kangaroo. You can incorporate this walk into a picnic outing with your family.
Bushwalking: What to pack
There are a few essential items you should bring when bushwalking to make your trip safer and enjoyable:
- Sun Protection: As always, when out in the Aussie sun, it’s vital to be sun safe. Wear a hat and bring spare sunscreen no matter what time of year you head out. Sunglasses or other eye protection are also beneficial.
- Water: The Aussie heat is no joke and dehydration can be a real risk in the bush. No matter the length of the walk, you should bring at least one bottle of water per person. It is often a good idea to leave a supply with your vehicle for when you return. That way you needn’t worry about finishing what you take on your walk.
- Appropriate clothing: Make sure that your clothes suit the weather. Loose and comfortable clothing is the best. If it’s cold, wear layers that you can remove as you warm up. Pack a light rain jacket, just in case.
- Decent shoes: Comfortable, sturdy shoes are a must for a walk of any reasonable distance. They will protect your feet from sticks and prickles better than an open-toed option, plus they provide better support for your arches and ankles.
- Insect repellent: Bugs can ruin a nice walk. Some bug spray can keep flies and mozzies at bay and prevent nasty bites.
- First aid pack: You won’t need many supplies if you’re heading out on a short walk but some band-aids, wet wipes and a small amount of disinfectant may come in handy. For longer walks, consider a compression bandage as well.
How to stay safe when bushwalking
Unfortunately, the rough terrain and confusing surroundings of a bushwalk can lead to falls or people getting lost. Even short walks can pose a risk but there are things you can do to reduce the chances of misadventure.
- Check the weather: It’s no fun to drive to your chosen location only for the rain to set in. Likewise, heat can be crippling, especially if you haven’t dressed appropriately. A quick check online and you’ll know what to wear and whether it’s worth heading off. If the forecast isn’t favourable, you can always come back another day.
- Check the suitability: Not all walks are for everyone. If you’re new to bushwalking you may not want to attempt a long and difficult hike straight away. The thing with walking is you have to walk back to where you started! Don’t let yourself get to the point where the walk back is too much for you. Similarly, someone elderly or injured should choose a shorter, more gentle walk.
- Tell someone where you’re going: This is one of the most important rules whenever you head anywhere remote. If someone knows where you are and when you’re due back if you get in trouble they will know to call for help.
- Stick to the path: You’d be amazed how easy it can be to lose your bearings once you get into the thick bush. The paths are there for your safety. Not only this but often there are rare species of flora or fauna that need protecting from heavy boots.
- Carry a first aid kit: These are easy to procure and just as easy to carry. You never know when this might literally save your life.
- Walk in threes: Three people means that if one person is injured they need not be left alone if someone needs to go for help (on the path!). A larger group can be even safer.
- Have the means to communicate: Leave with a fully charged mobile phone but don’t rely on it. Many national parks have patchy reception. A personal locator beacon is one of the simplest unless you choose to invest in a satellite phone.
Finished your walk? Head to Mingara Recreation Club….
Once you’ve enjoyed a great walking track on the Central Coast, you may find that you’ve worked up an appetite.