One and a half hour's drive from Sydney sits Norah Head on the Central Coast, a seaside breather from the big smoke. The headland will immerse you in surf-town vibes and a refreshing pocket of coastal wilderness. While here, indulge in a delicious meal from The Ark Cafe and learn a little naval history at the area's landmark lighthouse, which is over a century old.
On one side of the peninsula, you have a northeast-facing bay, known as Cabbage Tree Harbour. This is lined by cliffside and sandy shores and is a popular surf spot in the area. It's also home to a rockpool ideal for a refreshing swim and Wyong Shire's only boat ramp into the sea.
On the other side of the peninsula find Soldiers Beach, reaching south towards The Entrance. Framed by rock platforms, this is also a scenic location for swimming and surfing with care, as the beach is subject to rips, with two permanent rips against the rocks.
View from top of lighthouse - looking toward Soldiers Beach, and Sydney way on the horizon.
I'd highly recommend taking one of the guided tours through The Norah Head Lighthouse - only $6/head. It was opened in 1903 following a number of tragic shipwrecks along the high-sea shipping route in line with this part of the coastline.
The lighthouse only adds to this picturesque locations
You will learn some of the stories of these shipwrecks, the lighthouse keepers, and interesting insights about this engineering feat. Our guide was very friendly, knew the lighthouse like the back of her hand, which was impressive, and was more than happy to answer any questions.
Plus it was exciting to explore the inside of a lighthouse for the first time, especially climbing the spiral staircase to the top where we were treated to a close encounter with the beacon. It was good news to hear that unlike others in NSW, this lighthouse in all its history never saw a fire.
To top off this experience you're given the chance to step onto the circular balcony up here, from which you're treated to a 360-degree view of the ocean and coastline up to Newcastle and down to Sydney. On clearer days you can see our city skyline on the horizon.
4. Bush trail
Between The Ark Cafe and the lighthouse, and running parallel to Bush St, is a small trail through a pocket of coastal greenery. Though short, taking 10-20 minutes, it offers a variety of rainforest and scrub flora, along with a variety of birdlife. In the midst of this you can find some beautiful lookout points back over Cabbage Tree Harbour.