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If the Sydney hustle and bustle is getting too much, the picturesque coastal town of The Entrance up at Central Coast NSW makes an ideal destination for a weekend away. Only an hour and a half’s drive north of Sydney and situated where Lake Tuggerah meets the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, The Entrance makes a great base to explore from.

With coastal walks, parkland and beautiful beaches such as Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, I found plenty in the area to keep me occupied. So whether you’re thinking of heading up there on a short trip from Sydney, or you’re passing through on an East Coast road trip from Brisbane, here’s my guide on what to do in and around The Entrance, from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.


How to Get to The Entrance

The distance from Sydney to The Entrance is only 100km, so the 90-minute drive up the M1 is an easy journey to make for a weekend away.

Alternatively, you can also get up there in two and a half hours on public transport. Just get the train to Gosford and hop on the number 21 bus. Plan your journey on the  NSW Trip Planner.


The Entrance Beach

The Entrance Beach is the main attraction of the town, and it’s not just any old NSW beach; the turquoise water snaking in from the ocean forming the entrance of Lake Tuggerah looks really spectacular as it swirls around the sand at The Entrance North. It’s clear how the area got its name!

Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance in Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
The Entrance Beach looking across to The Entrance North

Take a stroll south down Marine Parade, and you’ll see plenty of fishermen, dog walkers, locals and tourists enjoying The Entrance Beach.

Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance in Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.


At the very end you’ll find The Entrance Ocean Baths where you can swim with a view.

Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance in Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
The Entrance Ocean Baths

The Entrance Shops and Restaurants

Head to The Entrance Road to find the main shopping area, which is a decent size, although nothing special to look at. There’s a Coles supermarket, the usual array of banks and takeaways, and The Entrance cinema if you fancy a movie.

The northern end of the street takes you past Memorial Park, where you’ll find a few children’s fairground rides and waterfront eateries.

Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance in Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
Waterside restaurants at The Entrance

The Entrance Pelican Feeding

You’ll see many, many pelicans at The Entrance! And if you want to get up close and personal, the daily pelican feeding takes place at 3:30pm on the waterfront at Memorial Park. Just don’t stand up and block everyone’s view, or you’ll get a good telling off!

Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance in Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
Daily pelican feeding at Memorial Park
Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance in Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.

Lake Tuggerah

Keep following the The Entrance Road north-west along the waterfront, and you’ll come to Lake Tuggerah. The park area here (Picnic Point Reserve) is really pretty and peaceful, with barbecues, picnic tables, toilets and of course, more pelicans!

Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance in Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
Picnic Point Reserve at Lake Tuggerah

Head to the parking area opposite Manning Street to find the facilities. The view of the lake is mostly blocked by trees further south of here. I didn’t get to see Lake Tuggerah at sunset, but as you’ll be facing west from here I’d imagine it would look pretty special!

Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance in Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
Pelicans hangin’ out at Lake Tuggerah

The Entrance Accommodation

If you’re looking for backpacker accommodation, I stayed at The Entrance Backpackers, which is next to The Entrance cinema on the main street in town.

It was quiet, clean and well-located, so I’d recommend it if you’re travelling on a budget. Click below to make a booking.

Book a stay at The Entrance Backpackers

Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance in Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
The Entrance Backpackers

To browse through over 80 accommodation option on the Central Coast, follow the link below:

Central Coast accommodation on Booking.com

There are also quite a few Airbnb homes dotted around the Central Coast. Here’s my discount link if you haven’t already signed up:

Get $55 off your first stay with Airbnb


Places to See Near The Entrance

With its decent-sized shopping area and close proximity to the beach, The Entrance makes a great base to explore the northern area of Central Coast NSW. However, there’s plenty more to see up and down the coast. Here are some of my recommended places to visit.

Norah Head

If you’ve made it this far up the Central Coast, it’s definitely worth a visit to Norah Head. Drive north across the bridge over the channel, pass through The Entrance North and Wyrrabalong, and you’ll reach Norah Head.

Park by The Ark Cafe on Bush Street and you won’t miss the path down to the beach.

Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance in Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
The Ark at Norah Head

You’ll find a rock pool (check the tides as there’s no water in it when the tide goes out!) and a beautiful beach.

Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance in Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
Rock pool at Norah Head Beach

Walk south across the sand, and you’ll see Norah Head Lighthouse and lots of interesting rock formations.

Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance in Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
Walking along Norah Head Beach
Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance in Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.

If you want a closer look at the lighthouse, you can either drive there or follow the 800m nature trail that starts in the little reserve next to The Ark.

Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance in Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
Norah Head nature trail leading to the lighthouse
Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance on Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
Norah Head Lighthouse

Blue Bay & Toowoon Bay

Heading south from The Entrance, you’ll soon come to beautiful Blue Bay where you can sit and watch the surfers do their thing.

Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance in Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
Blue Bay
Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance on Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
Surfers at Blue Bay

If the waves are too big for your taste, walk south across the sand, and you’ll find calmer water at neighbouring Toowoon Bay. You can even tuck yourself into the dunes to keep out of the wind.

Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance on Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
Calm waves at Toowoon Bay

Shelly Beach

The next beach down is large and rugged Shelly Beach, backed by sand dunes and also popular with surfers.

Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance on Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
Long and rugged Shelly Beach
Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance on Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
Surfers at Shelly Beach

Bateau Beach to Crackneck Lookout Walk

Continuing south takes you to Bateau Beach, where you’ll find plenty of space as well as start of the short and easy walk to Crackneck lookout.

Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance on Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
Bateau Beach

To join the walk, start at the carpark at the northern end of Bateau Beach, and climb down the path to the beach. Walk south across the sand until you reach the steps next to the steep ramp at the back of the beach.

Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance on Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
Ramp and steps to the Crackneck lookout walking track

Climb up the steps and you’ll see the sign for The Coast Track at the top. From here it’s only 1.3km through the pretty woodland to Crackneck lookout, where you’ll be rewarded with great views up the coast.

Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance on Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
Walking track to Crackneck lookout
Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance on Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
Beautiful view from Crackneck lookout

Terrigal Beach

If you’re looking for a bit more nightlife on your trip to the Central Coast, it’s only a 25-minute drive down to Terrigal, where you’ll find bars, restaurants and a bit more going on than at The Entrance.

Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance on Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
Terrigal restaurants and shops
Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance on Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
Terrigal Beach

Avoca Beach

I also had a quick look at Avoca Beach on my way home, since I’d heard nothing but good things about it. It seemed much quieter than nearby Terrigal, but huge and picturesque.

Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance on Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
Avoca Beach
Enjoy a nature-filled trip to The Entrance on Central Coast NSW, Australia, just 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, short coastal walks and the best places to see from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
North Avoca Beach

To read about the southern end of the Central Coast, which lies a bit closer to Sydney, check out this blog post:

What to See at Umina Beach and Bouddi National Park

For more ideas for great weekend or day trips from Sydney, read my top recommendations here:

10 Scenic Day Trips from Sydney

10 Best Weekend Getaways from Sydney

And if you’re lucky enough to be passing through the Central Coast on an East Coast road trip, make sure you read my drive itinerary, which includes costs, distances and the best drive stops:

Sydney to Brisbane Drive Itinerary

Enjoy your getaway!