Now that the days are (supposedly!) turning cooler, yet still long enough to get out and about after work, it’s the perfect season for “soft adventure” – adventure with a safety net, adventure that isn’t too far from home and adventure that is for the faint hearted.
Soft adventure is one of the fastest growing segments of the travel industry, and with good reason. There are usually no qualifications required, they involve minimal physical risk or experience, and yet can offer huge personal satisfaction.
The soft core arm of adventure includes hiking, cycling, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, diving and snorkelling, surfing, body boarding, wind surfing horse riding, heritage and cultural walks, skating, BMX, camping, fishing and wildlife viewing … And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The north of our region is packed with opportunities for soft adventure activities. These are available all year round, thanks to our enviable climate, and are perfect for residents and visitors of all ages and abilities. But crisp autumn days are some of the best to get outside.
And while surfing Pipeline in Hawaii or walking the Kokoda Trail might be on your bucket list, surfing the break at Soldiers Beach or hiking the Coast Track can be on your weekend to-do list.
Stand up paddle boarding
(SUP) is a fantastic water sport that combines the skills of surfing and kayaking. Historically, many river and coastal based cultures have stood in their canoes or on rafts and paddled, so while it’s not a new concept the sport has really taken off recently. Our region boasts many perfect locations to give SUP a go. Give Wyong River or Ourimbah Creek a go – at dawn and you might even spy a platypus or two. Toowoon Bay also makes a great place for SUP newbies with the calm waters making it easy to keep an eye out for the resident Blue Groper who calls this area home.
Surfing and body boarding
Both popular action activities with locals and many have been riding waves since they learnt to walk. However it’s never too late to hit the waves and give either sport a go. Breaks at Shelly are good for learners, (leave the unpatrolled North Shelly to the pros). Soldiers Beach has one of the best breaks on the Central Coast and is another great spot to grab some board time.
Much like surfing, is an activity you’re never too young or old to experience. A skate park is the most sensible place to start, and Picnic Point Skate Park has a picturesque outlook in the heart of The Entrance.If you’re after something a little less public, try Wadalba Skate Park further north. And keep your eyes out for Bato Yard, due to open at Bateau Bay in late 2016 and set to be one of the biggest and best Skate Parks in Australia. Bato Yard will feature a world class bowl, the deepest bowl in Australia at 3.6 metres! There will be a competition street area, additional street plaza and a unique flow bowl for beginner to intermediate riders.
A great way to get out and see the Coast, The Coast Track from Bateau Bay Beach, past Crackneck Lookout to Forresters Beach Lookout has some gorgeous views of the coastline. And it’s a great place to spot whales and dolphins as you wind along the cliffs through Wyrrabalong National Park. Two lesser known but stunning walks, both at Magenta, are the Lilly Pilly Loop, which is a lovely rainforest walk for the whole family and the Red Gum Trail. As the name suggests, the latter leads you along a trail enveloped by large Red Gums with amazing lake views.
A great activity if you’re a fan of the bush but want something a little more extreme than a hike. There are plenty of MBT clubs on the Coast who would be happy to offer advice to beginners. Ourimbah State Forest has a fantastic downhill course right near Tree Tops Adventure Park, another great soft adventure activity for those with daredevil tendencies.
Easily done on the Coast – we’re very lucky to have a large network of family-friendly cycle pathways. Tuggerah Lakes Cycleway is a flat, off-road, lakeside ride taking you from The Entrance to Chittaway Bay. Or you can head north for a four kilometre ride to Magenta. For young children, Saltwater Creek Reserve at Long Jetty has a fantastic play park plus a bike track that’s great for little ones and those learning to ride.
A great way to explore the waterways to the north of our region and particularly to enjoy the network of beautiful lakes in Wyong Shire. The coastal lagoons of Tuggerah Lake, Budgewoi Lake and Lake Munmorah are perfect for this sport, with Canton Beach a popular launch point. Several local businesses offer hire and can give you advice. If you want windsurfing with waves, head for Toowoon Bay.
Yarramalong is pretty prefect for autumn. Escorted horse rides for beginners and experienced riders take you through the beautiful Watagan State Forest on well behaved mounts. Ourimbah state forest is also a great spot for trail rides, cross country riding or pony leads for young first timers.
An ideal pastime. Our local waters are teeming with colourful, interesting and varied underwater life and taking snorkel and flippers with you is another great way to enjoy our beaches and bays. Toowoon Bay, Bateau Bay and Spoon Bay are all perfect spots for some underwater exploration.
Requires a little more commitment and training, but we’re lucky to have some great dive schools and tour providers on the Coast. Foggy Cave off Bateau Bay is home to a grey nurse shark colony from March to April but is a beautiful dive spot year round. Another popular dive spot, The Bommies off The Entrance is a large offshore reef with swim throughs, schools of pelagic fish and a dramatic ten metre vertical cliff. The inner bombie is a perfect dive for beginners. Kiama Wreck off beautiful Toowoon Bay is a small coastal collier which sank in 1952. It’s well populated with fish but being a deep dive it does require experience.
Heritage and Culture Walks
Can be a little pleasanter in cooler weather. The Entrance Heritage Walk introduces you to local characters and the beauty of this stretch of coast through photos and stories, taking around two hours to complete.If you have more time consider the Coast to Lake Walk, a loop that takes in The Entrance, Blue Bay, Toowoon Bay and Long Jetty. The three hour walk features stunning views and pathway art, and where needed there are alternate routes indicated for prams and wheelchairs.