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A weekend on the Central Coast

New South Wales

David Thorndike takes the family for a beach break on the NSW Central Coast.

The start of the school and work year can be an exhausting time for kids and parents, so a beach escape just a few weeks into the first term can be a fantastic opportunity to recharge the batteries, as well as make the most of the final days of summer. With the peak holiday period over, there are fantastic bargains to be had in our coastal holiday parks, particularly for family cabins. So late February found us heading two hours north of Sydney to Toowoon Bay on the New South Wales Central Coast.

A family favourite
This area has been a favourite of our family for many years, not least because of its beautiful coastline, crystal-clear waters and the fact that itís an easy drive from Sydney with a back seat full of young kids. And while we love the adventure of tent camping, for a quick weekend escape where you want to make the most of every minute, there is a lot to be said for the zero set-up and pack-up time of a cabin. With daylight savings still in force, we were able to check in at Toowoon Bay Holiday Park just after 7pm and still have time to duck down to the beach for a quick swim before a late dinner on our patio; a perfect start to the holiday.

The interior of our cabin consisted of a combined L-shaped kitchen/dining/living room, bathroom (complete with spa), separate toilet and two bedrooms, one with a queen bed and the second with two bunk-beds, meaning a family of up to six can stay comfortably. It certainly has everything youíll need for a relaxing stay, and the sound of the waves breaking on the beach just metres away will have you kicking your shoes off as soon as you walk in the door.

A Toowoon treat
Now I know we arenít the only Aussie family that thinks a day at the beach is the be all and end all of a relaxing holiday. If this is your familyís idea of holiday perfection too, then Toowoon Bay is the spot for you. The bay itself has a safe beach area for little ones to swim and, being right next to the holiday park, you can even escape the hottest part of the day by ducking into your air-conditioned cabin for lunch and a siesta before heading back to the sand again in the afternoon.

There are several great options for swimming when staying at Toowoon Bay Holiday Park. The beautiful Toowoon Bay Beach is ideal for families with a canteen, public toilets and surf lifesavers on duty most of the year. North Shelly Surf Beach has tracks leading from the back of the cabins straight down onto the sand (this is an unpatrolled beach but is great for teenagers and adults looking for a top surfing spot). And for those who prefer a lounge chair atmosphere, the resort-style pool within the holiday park comes complete with shaded toddlersí paddling pool, water features and an undercover barbecue area if you want to cook up a feed. For the ever-active kids, there is also a giant jumping pillow and playground adjacent to the pool area, both within easy view of mumís deckchair

Saturday afternoon saw us taking the five-minute drive into The Entrance to have a walk around the foreshore and watch the popular daily pelican feeding at 3.30pm.

Be sure to pack sunscreen, swimmers and towels because it is nearly impossible to say no to exploring the exposed sandbanks and clear waters of the channel area at low tide. For those that prefer to sit back and watch the kids have a splash, there is also a themed water play area conveniently located in front of an ice-cream shop; another impossible-to-say-noto attraction.

Also on the corso is a small amusement park consisting of a merry-goround and a couple of other rides, as well as a variety of eateries. Itís almost impossible to resist a family feed of fish and chips, which is best enjoyed with feet dangling over the water as you soak up the views over the channel to the beach and ocean beyond.

Back at the cabin after dinner, the kids were soon asleep, tuckered out after a full day of sun and surf, and we were able to kick back on the patio listening to the waves breaking on the beach. Hard to imagine that yesterday we were back in the Ďburbs and dreaming about being here. And with a full day still to go, it makes me wonder why we donít book in a quick beach escape every month.


Getting there
An easy two hoursí drive north of Sydney via the Pacific Highway. Take the Wyong Road exit and follow until you hit the beach.

Toowoon Bay Holiday Park

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The Entrance foreshore: restaurants, amusement park rides, pelicans, swimming, boating and fishing.

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