We really are spoilt for choice here on the Central Coast when it comes to bushwalks. With six national parks, three state forests and multiple conservation areas located within the Central Coast region, we have myriad options when it comes to walking tracks that allow us to get away from it all… and to exercise and social distance easily in these strangest of times.

And, we’re super lucky in that the bushwalks are all so different. You can take your family on a beachside ramble, for a rainforest stroll, along a cliff-edge boardwalk or through a stunning wildflower trail. We’ve also discovered tracks lined with hidden treasures – indigenous engravings, statues of famous explorers, “ancient” hieroglyphs and convict artefacts. We’ve even uncovered some amazing secret nature spaces – we’re talking, “no mention on Google-type secret” – to help you really get away from the crowd.

Whether you’re an experienced bushwalker or are just starting out, there’s something here for everyone! Don’t forget to slip, slop, slap and pack some snacks and water bottles – if you’re a parent you know the minute you leave the house the “I’m starving” cries will ring out. Plus, keep an eye out for snakes when the weather’s warm – you don’t see them often, but they sometimes love to bask on sunny bushwalking tracks.

So, without further ado and in no particular order, here’s our list of the top 40 family-friendly bushwalks on the Central Coast. We’ve tried and tested them all with our little explorers, and we’re confident you’ll find a heap of new adventures your family will love, too!


1. LOBSTER BEACH, BOUDDI NATIONAL PARK

Tucked away in Bouddi National Park, beautiful Lobster Beach is a truly refreshing place to visit. Families can enjoy a dip in the sheltered cove, explore the beach, and picnic under a canopy of gumtrees. It’s only accessible via foot or boat, which really adds to the sense of discovery for little explorers. 

There are two ways to walk in – the first follows a short track up and over the top of a steep hill, then down to the beach via wooden stairs. There’s a viewing platform along the way where you can stop to catch your breath and enjoy views across the sparkling water. The second way is via the Flannel Flowers walking track – read our next entry below to find out more on that one.

Length: The walk is 600m return.
Age group: Kids of all ages will enjoy this walk, provided you can take it slowly and lend a helping hand for the steep sections.
Location: The trail starts at High View Road, Pretty Beach.
Learn more: visit the National Parks website.


2. FLANNEL FLOWER WALKING TRACK, BOUDDI NATIONAL PARK

Offering amazing views, pretty wildflowers and a secluded beach at the end of the trail, the Flannel Flower Walking Track really ticks all the boxes. Wind your way down the hillside from the scenic Box Head to visit Lobster Beach. Take in stunning views from the Lobster Beach lookout, and in Spring, enjoy the many flannel flowers blooming along the track.

Length: The Flannel Flower track is 2.9km return.
Age group: It’s perfect for kids aged 4 and up.
Location: The track starts on Hawke Head Drive, Killcare.
Learn more: visit the National Parks website.


3. ROBINSONS CREEK, SOMERSBY

The Robinsons Creek bushwalk forms part of the Great North Walk, an epic 250km trail between Sydney and Newcastle. This section, however, is a much more manageable 3km return. It gives kids a taste of the bush, with enough of a challenge to make it feel like an achievement when you reach your destination!

The trail follows a winding path down to a tranquil, shaded gully. The walk does get steep and muddy at times, and younger kids may require some help to navigate these sections. At the bottom of the track, you’ll find Robinsons Creek, where you can explore large rock platforms and admire the beautiful waterfall before heading back up the trail. 

Length: 3km return.
Age group: This walk is suitable for kids aged 6 and up.
Location: The trail starts at the end of Robinson Road, Somersby.


4. WATERFRONT LOOP, THE ENTRANCE NORTH

A walk along the North Entrance waterfront takes you through Terilbah Reserve and then back along sand dunes above the beach. There are three playgrounds along the way and lots to look at – kids will love spotting black swans, pelicans and cormorants in the water.

Start at Pelican’s Wharf and follow the path north to the Lions Club Sensory Garden. Enjoy the views across Tuggerah Lake, then continue past the boat ramp and along the path beside the water. At the end of this path, cross over to Simpson Street where there is a trail leading up into the sand dunes. Follow the track south along the dunes, or head down onto the beach for a play in the sand. Bright coastal wildflowers line the path and there’s plenty of spots to stop and admire the ocean views – these are great vantage points for whale watching too! Continue past the North Entrance Surf Club until you reach Roberts Street. Follow this street past the Walter and Edith Deniss Park, then cross back across Wilfred Barrett Drive to finish at Pelican’s Wharf.

Length: A 3km circuit.
Age group: This walk is suitable for kids aged 4 and up.
Location: Pelican’s Wharf, 1 Wilfred Barrett Drive, The Entrance North


5. BLACKWALL MOUNTAIN RESERVE, BLACKWALL

Get ready for some rock climbing! This track climbs steeply up a narrow path, past redgum trees and rocky outcrops, until it reaches the top of Blackwall Mountain. Take some time to enjoy the sweeping views across Ettalong, Brisbane Water and out to Lion Island. Follow the path to explore the top of the mountain before heading back down the other side – it’s a wide trail here and you might see some mountain bikers along the way.

Length: 3.1km.
Age group: This walk is suitable for kids aged 4 and up.
Location: The trail starts at Mulbong Road, Blackwall, and finishes on Bay View Crescent.


6. GOSFORD RAILWAY DAMS, SOMERSBY

If you’re an experienced bushwalker with a sense of adventure, we think you’ll find this a unique and memorable place to explore. The walk starts on Reeves Street, Somersby, and drops down steeply to some historic railway dams. They were constructed in the early 1900s to supply water for steam trains, and have now become a haven for local wildlife.

After a short descent through the bush, you’ll reach the edge of the upper dam. Follow the path to the lower dam, where there is a shallow creek to paddle in and lovely views across the water. While it is possible to walk further towards the edge of this dam, we don’t recommend it, as the drop-off is quite steep and slippery. And although this bushwalk is short, it really is one for experienced walkers only, as it can be hard to follow the narrow trail, and we’ve heard there can be snakes around too.

Length: approximately 1km return.
Age group: This walk is suitable for kids aged 6 and up, provided the adults with them are experienced bushwalkers.
Location: Reeves Street, Somersby. The entrance to the trail is unmarked and somewhat hidden – you need to find it near the fifth telegraph pole along from Dawson Street. (Look for the pink ribbons!)
Learn more: http://www.diamondspirit.net/adunk/railwaydams/railwaydams.html


7. PALMS CIRCUIT TRACK, MUNMORAH STATE CONSERVATION AREA

The Palms Circuit Walk will stretch kids’ legs and their imaginations! The short trail loops through a shady forest thick with towering cabbage tree palms before climbing steeply up to the top of the hill. Kids can spot thornbills, robins and maybe even a lace monitor in the trees along the way. Catch your breath before heading down the hill to complete your walk back to the picnic area. This track is within the Munmorah State Conservation Area, and there’s plenty more to explore here. Why not head down the road to Frazer Beach to cool off with a quick dip after your walk?

Length: The track is 750m long.
Age group: Kids aged 3 and up will enjoy this one.
Location: Frazer Beach Road, Frazer Park. 
Learn more: visit the National Parks website.


8. MOONEY MOONEY NATURE WALK, BRISBANE WATER NATIONAL PARK

This is a fun walk to do with the kids – there are boardwalks and winding bush paths to explore, and it takes you to the super-fun Phil Houghton suspension bridge, which stretches across Piles Creek. Kids can carefully wobble across and explore the sandy bay beneath. From here, the track climbs up through the bush to reach the popular Girrakool picnic area. For an easier walk for little legs, trek from the car park to the suspension bridge and then back again – there’s less climbing this way!

Length: 4.2km from the Old Pacific Highway to Girrakool, or 4km return from the highway to the suspension bridge.
Age group: The first half of this walk is suitable for kids aged 4 and up, while the steeper second half is better suited to older children.
Location: Old Pacific Highway, Mooney Mooney Creek. There is a small parking bay just north of the Old Mooney Mooney Creek Bridge. Follow the fire trail to start your walk.
Learn more: visit the National Parks Website.


9. EMERALD POOL, POPRAN NATIONAL PARK

The sparkling Emerald Pool is hidden away in Popran National Park, along well-marked bush trails. It’s a walk that leads to a beautiful swimming hole that appears a magical green colour from above (although the water is actually crystal clear).

You’ll need either a 4WD or a sturdy 2WD to access the Ironbark Carpark, where the walk begins. From here follow the 248 Trail, then turn onto the Hominy Creek Trail which narrows and leads down to the pool. It’s a popular spot for taking a dip in Summer, and is home to many frogs and lizards. Spend some time exploring the nearby rocky platforms before heading back.

You can go back the way you came in, or walk to the end of the Hominy Creek Trail, before linking up with the Mount Olive trail. This leads back to the 248 Trail near the car park. The return journey is mostly uphill, with some nice views out across the region. In Spring there’s an abundance of native flowers, including lots of waratahs.

Length: It’s a 7.5km loop.
Age group: This walk is suitable for kids aged 8 and up.
Location: Ironbark Picnic Area, Popran National Park.
Learn more: visit the National Parks website.


10. MILL CREEK GRASS TREE CIRCUIT, DHARUG NATIONAL PARK

Enjoy a drive through the countryside to this out-of-the-way camping and hiking spot. The track winds through the bush taking you on a loop past cabbage tree palms, large grass trees and across a shallow creek. There’s lots of wildlife to spot – on our visit, we saw a lace monitor and some lyrebirds, plus plenty of birds in the trees. Most of the track is quite shady, making it a good walk on a hot day. Enjoy a picnic in the large, grassy campground before heading home. 

Length: It’s a 1.7km circuit.
Age group: This walk is suitable for kids aged 3 and up.
Location: Mill Creek Picnic Area, Dharug National Park.
Learn more: visit the National Parks website.


11. KARIONG BROOK FALLS, KARIONG

Nothing beats finding a sparkling waterfall at the end of your bushwalk, and Kariong Brook Falls is definitely one to visit. Begin your trek on the Tommos Loop fire trail, which is a wide path through the bush. Turn right when you get to the Great North Walk intersection, where the path narrows and winds down through steep rocky sections, to reach the secluded Kariong Brook Falls. See if you can spot a yabby or two in the water before heading back up the trail. The return journey is mostly uphill with a fair bit of climbing up rocky steps – a good excuse to pause, catch your breath and enjoy the views along the way!

Length: 6km return, with some serious uphill sections!
Age group: This walk is great for kids aged 7 and up.
Location: Park either at the Tommos Loop trail entrance on Woy Woy Road, Kariong, or at the nearby Staples Lookout, where you’ll find expansive views across the region.
Learn more: visit the WildWalks website.


12. BULLS HILL QUARRY, WOY WOY BAY

This is a short fire trail leading to a large open area that was once the site of a sandstone quarry. There are some dams here that have become beautiful native wildlife habitats. The track in is an easy walk along a wide trail and there’s plenty for kids to explore, including a shallow crossing over Woy Woy Creek. Despite the wildlife, the quarry area still has a bit of an industrial feel to it, making it a unique and intriguing location to visit.

Length: A walk along the fire trail and around the quarry is approximately 2km return.
Age group: This walk is suitable for kids aged 3 and up.
Location: Tunnel Fire Trail, Woy Woy Road, Woy Woy Bay.


13. IRONBARK RESERVE, MANGROVE MOUNTAIN

Ironbark Reserve is a peaceful spot to rest and relax while kids dig in the sand and look for tadpoles. The walk starts with a bush tucker trail where you can see examples of edible native plants, then follows an overgrown rainforest track that leads to a serene and picturesque waterfall. There is a bush trail beyond the waterfall, with a viewing platform and picnic table. The falls are most impressive after rain – the track does get slippery so take care on the way in!

Length: The track to the waterfall and back is about 600m return.
Age group: This is suitable for kids aged 4 and up.
Location: Find the entrance on the right, about a kilometre down Ironbark Road from Wisemans Ferry Road. 


14. WARRAH TRIG AND DOYLES WALKING TRACK, PATONGA

The Warrah Trig fire trail leads through the bush to amazing views at a large lookout. Park at the start of the fire trail, then walk along it to connect with Doyles Walking Track (or, for a shorter walk, you can drive along the fire trail and park at the end). The Doyle Walking Track heads up and over a rocky hilltop to a trig point, which is a large metal pillar used by surveyors as a navigation aid. Then it’s time for kids to hop, skip and jump their way down some stairs and along a winding path to the Warrah Lookout. From here you can join up with the Pearl Beach to Patonga trail, or head back the way you came in.

Visit in Spring to see the abundant wildflowers along the way, including plenty of waratahs close to the start of the trail. 

Length: It’s 3.4km return if you park at the start of the fire trail.
Age group: This walk is great for kids aged 5 and up.
Location: Warrah Trig fire trail, Patonga.
Learn more: visit the National Parks website.


15. ELEPHANT ROCK, PATONGA

Elephant Rock is simply incredible. It’s a huge rock platform hidden in the bush near Patonga, and it has what may be the best views on the Central Coast. Visitors can gaze out to the ocean, down to Patonga and across the hills to the west, with stunning sights in every direction. Access is via a short walk uphill from Patonga Drive – park about 700m south of the Warrah Trig Track entrance, then follow the short trail uphill to the top. We recommend this one for experienced bushwalkers only, and safety is really important on this one – don’t get too close to the edge of the rocks, and watch the path closely. 

Length: 400m return from Patonga Drive.
Age group: We recommend this walk for kids aged 7 and up.
Location: Patonga Drive, Patonga.


16. MOSS FIELD, NARARA

Moss Field is a large open space, home to the Gosford City Aeromodellers Club, and surrounded by easy walking trails. To the west and north, there are narrow bush paths winding along the top of the ridgeway, and to the south, there are sandy paths to explore. It is a popular off-leash dog walking area, and a good spot to take smaller kids to stretch their legs, without having to go too far – it’s easy to do a loop that follows fairly close to the edge of the field. There’s a large dam hidden away along the track, and you might even be lucky enough to see an echidna in the undergrowth!

Length: A loop around the field and surrounding tracks is around 1.75km long.
Age group: This is suitable for kids of all ages.
Location: Mangrove Road, Narara.


17. PEARL BEACH ARBORETUM, PEARL BEACH

The Crommelin Native Arboretum, better known to locals as the Pearl Beach Arboretum, is a natural botanic garden covering 5.5 hectares. Established in 1976, the arboretum is a sanctuary for rare and threatened plant species, and as you wander its paths you walk through different habitats – a rare burrawong scrubby woodland, a palm grove, a forest regeneration area and a wetland area. There are multiple open areas to sit and picnic, many bridges to traverse and signs to read, which all keep the littlest of bushwalkers interested and engaged. And given its more manicured vibe, this is a beautiful area to come with toddlers who are testing out their hiking boots.

Length: There is one main circuit with paths that intersect the area, so you can make it as long or short a walk as you like.
Age group: Suitable for all ages – even the littlest of people.
Location: There are two car parks and entries – one at the end of Opal Close (near the tennis courts), the other on Crystal Avenue, Pearl Beach.


18. SARATOGA ISLAND NATURE RESERVE, SARATOGA

The Saratoga Island Nature Reserve is a 2-hectare strip of land jutting off Saratoga, and a visit here makes you feel a million miles from your cares. It’s not a walk as such, but more an explorative ramble through mangroves, past casuarinas and across isolated sandy beaches. It’s beautiful. And one of our favourite discoveries. And we were half tempted to keep it all to ourselves.

Length: No length. This one is a choose-your-own-adventure-style wander.
Age group: Suitable for all ages – so long as you’re foot-sure and prepared to duck ‘n’ weave.
Location: Park at the tennis courts at Willaroo Road and then walk towards the Saratoga Sailing Club. Duck into the mangroves to the left of the club and make your way around the island with the ocean to your right.


19. JOAN CHANDLER WALK, GREEN POINT

The Joan Chandler Walk is one to enjoy if you’re up for a bit of exploring. This track appears long forgotten and is very overgrown. There are trunks to clamber over, branches to duck, and at times you wonder if you’re still on a track at all, but families who have a sense of adventure will get a kick out of the unruliness of it. This place is a true locals secret – it doesn’t appear on Google Maps nor Google Search…. and we bet your bottom dollar you’ll have the entire area to yourself.

Length: We honestly don’t know, but it’s short – around 500m – and it takes you on a bit of a circuit.
Age group: Suitable for all ages – so long as you’re foot-sure and prepared to duck ‘n’ weave.
Location: Park towards the end of Kenmare Rd, Green Point.


20. DALEY’S POINT FIRE TRAIL, BOUDDI NATIONAL PARK

The Daley’s Point Walking Track starts as a fire trail, which ordinarily doesn’t excite us very much, but keep walking and looking and you’ll soon find multiple walking tracks off to the side. And this is what keeps it fun and interesting and a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure-style bushwalk that won’t necessarily see you sticking to the typical 3.2km circuit. Plus there are a few caves to explore and, bizarrely, a burnt-out car wreck in the middle of some huge boulders. It’s a rare bushwalk find (thankfully), but it adds an element of mystery and intrigue to the walk that kids love!

This is a super popular area for mountain bike riders, too, with trails and tracks for all levels.

Length: 3.2km return.
Age group: Suitable for kids aged 3+.
Location: Park at the Wards Hill carpark on Wards Hill Road at Killcare Heights. The carpark is located opposite Maitland Bay Drive.
Learn more: Visit the National Parks website.


21. DEVINES HILL CONVICT TRAIL, WISEMANS FERRY

Take a stunning walk back in time on this World Heritage-listed trail. Located at Wisemans Ferry, the trail is part of a road constructed by convicts between 1828 and 1832. There are lovely views over the McDonald River as you climb the winding track, and plenty of history on display, too! Information stations and sculptures of convict artefacts line the way, meaning there’s loads to keep the kids motivated. Kids can see convict-made drains and retaining walls, find grooves where gun powder blasted rocks apart and discover remains of a convict garrison, too! 

Length: The path is 4km return from Wisemans Ferry Road to the garrison, and it is all uphill for the first half.
Age group: We recommend it for kids aged 6 and up.
Location: Old Great North Road, Wisemans Ferry.
Learn more: visit convicttrail.com.au.


22. LILLYPILLY LOOP TRACK, MAGENTA

This walk in Wyrrabalong National Park will stretch little legs as it winds through sandy trails and peaceful coastal rainforest paths. There are vines to swing on, hills to climb and dramatic tropical plants to admire (the Staghorn ferns are amazing!). Families can enjoy views over Tuggerah Lakes, and see a variety of native vegetation as the trail twists and turns through the changing landscape. Keep an eye on the tree trunks – you might spot a lace monitor climbing up high!

Length: The trail is a 3.5km loop.
Age group: We recommend it for kids aged 5 and up.
Location: Wilfred Barnett Drive, Magenta.
Learn more: visit the National Parks website.


23. STRICKLAND STATE FOREST, SOMERSBY

The walking trails here are perfect for intrepid explorers and offer a heap of fun for the whole family!

The Strickland Falls Track takes you through shaded rainforest to a small waterfall and has a bit of a prehistoric vibe – you can easily imagine a dinosaur or two popping out from amongst the ferns!

The nearby Arboretum Track features a suspension bridge to wobble across, a creek to explore and a special collection of trees that are over 100 years old.

It’s a good idea to bring your insect repellant for these trails, and pack a picnic too – there are wood fireplaces and picnic tables at the nearby Banksia Picnic Area.

Length: The Strickland Falls Track is a 1.6km loop, and the Arboretum Track loop is 2.3km.
Age group: Kids aged 3 and up will enjoy exploring these trails.
Location: Strickland Forest Road, Somersby.
Learn more: visit the Forestry Corporation website.


24. MAITLAND BAY AND BULLIMAH SPUR TRACKS, KILLCARE HEIGHTS

A beautiful beach, stunning views and even a shipwreck to find – Maitland Bay bushwalk really is special. Head down the short track through the bush to find the sheltered cove of Maitland Bay. There are rock pools and sand dunes to explore, and sparkling waves to play in. Carefully navigate the rock platform on the eastern side of the beach to hunt for signs of the PS Maitland. which was shipwrecked on the reef here in 1898. The boiler from the ship is still visible at low tide – it is hard to spot but half the fun is in the looking! The walk back up the trail is steep, with quite a few stairs to navigate – plan to take your time with plenty of rest breaks.

If you prefer an easier walk for little legs, try the Bullimah Spur track, which starts from the same carpark as the Maitland Bay track. It’s got amazing views across the ocean, rock platforms to explore, huge redgum branches to climb over and around and lots of wildflowers, too.

Length: The Maitland Bay Track is 2km return, and the Bullimah Spur track is 2.4km return.
Age group: Both are suitable for kids aged 3 and up, although smaller kids may need assistance on the steep hike back up from the Bay.
Location: The Scenic Road, Killcare Heights.
Learn more: Find information about Maitland Bay here, and about the Bullimah Spur track here.


25. RUMBALARA RESERVE, SPRINGFIELD

If your little explorers are just starting out, Rumbalara Reserve offers an easy and accessible first bushwalking experience. There are short paths to stroll down, statues of famous explorers to find and admire, and great views over Gosford and surrounding suburbs. The Reserve has a number of walking tracks suitable for a variety of ages and fitness levels, from the super short and mostly flat Ironbark Track, to the more challenging Rainforest Walk, where the stairs will really get your heart pumping! We’ve seen wallabies here, and there are always birds flitting among the treetops.

Length: The shortest track here is just over 600m long.
Age group: The Reserve is suitable for children aged 2 and up.
Location: Dolly Ave, Springfield.
Learn more: Visit the Wildwalks website.


26. GOSFORD GLYPHS, KARIONG

A bushwalk to Gosford Glyphs offers a fun family adventure – with a dash of mystery thrown in!

The Kariong Hieroglyphs (or Gosford Glyphs as they’re commonly known) are “ancient Egyptian-style” carvings in the sandstone walls in Brisbane Water National Park. This intriguing local landmark makes for a perfect treasure hunt and offers a great incentive to keep little legs walking and little minds enthusiastic.

After a short bushwalk and clambering through rocks you’ll discover sandstone walls covered in ‘ancient’ carvings of hieroglyphic symbols. There’s almost 300 of them! You and your kids will be able to spot carvings of birds, fish, beetles, people and more.

Length: This is an approximately 2km return trip.
Age group: We recommend it for kids aged 6 and up.
Location: Bamabara Road, Kariong.
Learn more: Click here to read our feature on the Gosford Glyphs Bushwalk.


27. LITTLE BEACH BUSHWALK, MCMASTERS BEACH

If you’re trying to get your kids into bushwalking, this is a perfect introduction! The Little Beach track in Bouddi National Park is an easy 15-minute walk for young families, and rewards little legs with a stunning secluded beach at the end.

Kids will love exploring the rocks, collecting driftwood to create cubbies, splashing in the ocean and building sandcastles. There’s also a delightful shallow creek running down to the ocean where toddlers can splash about without worrying about being bowled over by waves.

Length: The beach is only 750m from the carpark.
Age group: Kids aged 3 and up will manage this walk without trouble.
Location: Grahame Drive, McMasters Beach.
Learn more: Click here to read our feature on the Little Beach bushwalk.


28. GIRRAKOOL LOOP TRACK, SOMERSBY

Choose your own adventure on this family-friendly bushwalk! The Girrakool Loop Track at Somersby offers an easy trail, beautiful lookouts and sparkling waterfalls. You’ll discover an abundance of local wildlife, such as wallabies, lace monitors and yabbies. Keep an eye out for native birds, too – you might spot a lyre-bird or glossy black cockatoo!

The track has a variety of options, so you can easily tailor your adventure to your family’s needs. The main path is short, well marked and easy to navigate, making it a perfect first bushwalk for little explorers. There’s some side trails along the way that are a little more challenging, but well worth the effort.

Length: The main trail is 2km long.
Age group: It’s suitable for kids aged 3 and up.
Location: Girrakool Road, Somersby.
Learn more: Click here to read our feature on the Girrakool Loop Track.


29. MOONEE BEACH TRAIL, MUNMORAH STATE CONSERVATION AREA

If your family likes finding seashells, skipping stones and sliding down sand dunes, then this is the bushwalk for you! The Moonee Beach Trail winds through the bush before leading down to a beach that’s full of surprises. Enjoy views across the ocean, then hit the sand and head south to find a sheltered area with fantastic rock pools. Here you can skim stones across the water, find crabs hiding in the sand, and admire the many seashells washed up along the shore (we’ve never seen so many in one place!). There are sand dunes to explore, and you might even spot an eagle winging its way across the sky.

Length: This bushwalk is 4.5km return.
Age group: It is suitable for kids aged 4 and up. Younger kids may need assistance making it up the hill on the way back.
Location: Snapper Point Road, Munmorah State Conservation Area.
Learn more: Click here to read our feature on the Moonee Beach Trail.


30. NORAH HEAD LIGHTHOUSE RESERVE, NORAH HEAD

The beautiful Norah Head Lighthouse Reserve is a little-known treasure on the northern end of the Central Coast. Here you’ll find a lighthouse surrounded by family-friendly nature trails, rockpools, sandy beaches and a large rock platform that makes for a great day out with kids.

While adults will appreciate the headland, the rock shelf below the lighthouse is what will excite the kids. There you’ll find lots of little rockpools to explore and sea creatures to oohhh and ahhh over. Crabs, molluscs, brittle stars and urchins are frequenters of this spot. If you’re feeling adventurous there’s also a short walking trail showcasing flora, fauna and filtered ocean views – and it’s perfect for little legs.

Length: The walking trail is 800m long, and a rock shelf ramble can be as long or short as you like!
Age group: Kids of all ages will love exploring here – we recommend it for ages 2 and up.
Location: 40 Bush Street, Norah Head.
Learn more: Click here to read our feature on the Norah Head Lighthouse Reserve.


31. THE COAST WALKING TRACK – CRACKNECK LOOKOUT TO WYRRABALONG LOOKOUT, BATEAU BAY

If you’re looking for a local bushwalk that’s perfect for families, look no further! The track between Wyrrabalong and Crackneck Lookout offers coastal walking at its finest. Families can stroll along the sandy path, admire the beautiful native plants and wildflowers, and maybe even spot a whale out to sea! This track is short enough for little legs to manage, and still challenging enough to give you some exercise.

There’s so much to look at – it really is a beautiful walk. You’ll see grass trees and lots of banksia, and in Spring the wildflowers really put on a show. Keep the kids busy spotting lizards and kookaburras, and take advantage of the wider sections of track to pause with them and enjoy the ocean views. You’ll find whales cruising past between May and November, so don’t forget to pack your binoculars!

Length: The track is 3km return.
Age group: This walk is great for kids aged 4 and up.
Location: Hilltop Street, Bateau Bay. 
Learn more: Click here to read our feature on this section of the Coast Walking Track.


32. BOUDDI COASTAL TRACK – PUTTY BEACH TO GERRIN POINT LOOKOUT AND BULLIMAH BEACH, KILLCARE HEIGHTS

Pack your sunglasses and sense of adventure for this stunning Central Coast coastal walk! This short section of the Bouddi Coastal Track winds along the scenic clifftops that scatter the coastline between Putty Beach and Bullimah Beach, giving you dramatic views out across the ocean and right down to the shore.

Climb the wooden stairs at Putty Beach, then stroll along the path towards a boardwalk that clings to the clifftops – a perfect spot for gazing into the horizon and enjoying the breathtaking views. Along the way, kids can admire the tessellated rock platforms, spot native birds in the trees and finish up with a relaxing play on the sand. There’s a small cave under the boardwalk at Bullimah Beach, along with more fabulous coastal views for you to enjoy.

Length: The main track between the beaches is 700m long, and the side trail to Gerrin Point Lookout is 350m.
Age group: Most of the walk is fenced along the ocean side, so kids aged 4 and up can enjoy exploring the track with adult supervision.
Location: Putty Beach Road, Killcare Heights.
Learn more: Click here to read our feature on this section of the Bouddi Coastal Track.


33. CAVES BEACH, SWANSEA PENINSULA

Ahoy there! If you’re in the mood for a sandy treasure hunt, grab your crew of mini pirates and head north to Caves Beach.

There’s so much to discover here for the whole family. Littlies will love splashing at the beach, while bigger kids can let their imaginations run wild as they challenge themselves to be brave and explore the amazing network of caves lining the shore! Soak in the atmosphere under the cavernous roof of the largest cave, then venture through open passages on its southern side. Here you’ll find smaller caves to explore, rocks to hop over and plenty of wildlife (keep an eye out for crabs in between the rocks!).

After you’ve explored the caves, kids will love playing on the beach. There’s a kiosk at the nearby surf club, perfect for a coffee or ice cream, and plenty of shady places to sit.

Length: This is a short walk – the caves stretch for around 300m metres along the shore.
Age group: Kids aged 3 and up will be able to explore the caves, with some assistance.
Location: Mawson Close, Caves Beach.
Learn more: Click here to read our feature on Caves Beach.

Note that Caves Beach is located in the Lake Macquarie region, which means Central Coast residents are not permitted to travel there during the current lockdown period.


34. KATANDRA RESERVE

Tucked away off Holgate’s Wattle Tree Road is Katandra Reserve – a beautiful section of bushland with easy and moderate walking tracks. The Katandra Reserve Explorer route is a 5.3km circuit that takes in all the area’s highlights, including Seymour Pond, St Johns lookout and the popular strangler figs. If you’re short on time, a return walk to the strangler figs is 2km and takes only an hour.

Length: Walks here range from 1.8km to 5.3km long.
Age group: We recommend these trails for kids aged 4 and up.
Location: Katandra Rd, Holgate. 
Learn more: visit the Wildwalks website.


35. BRISK BAY TO PATONGA CREEK, PATONGA

A beachside walk from Brisk Bay to Patonga Creek is the perfect way to get the kids out in the fresh air. There’s so much to see and enjoy – dig in the sand and look for shells at Brisk Bay, before walking around to the jetty wharf to see the pelicans waiting for the catch of the day. Follow the beach south until it meets Patonga Creek. You can then walk alongside the creek to Patonga Foreshore Reserve (a haven for local birdlife), before heading up Brisk Street and back to the main beach. There’s a mostly fenced, wooden playground here and awesome local cafes, too.

Length: This walk is around 4km long.
Age group: We recommend it for kids aged 3 and up.
Location: Patonga Drive, Patonga.


36. BOX HEAD TRACK, KILLCARE

The Box Head Track has absolutely spectacular views. The rugged trail takes you over rock platforms and past twisting redgums to reach the striking Box Head Lookout, which boasts incredible views out to the ocean and down to Sydney. See if you can spot some skyscrapers in the distance! Along the way, birds flit among the trees, and the well-marked path provides just the right amount of interest and challenge for little walkers.

This is also a headland rich in indigenous culture. Local cultural educator Tim Selwyn of Girri Girra leads tours through Bouddi in which he invites you to “walk with us”, to hear ancient stories, view rock carvings and gain a progressive understanding of Aboriginal society and culture. Tim is absolutely fabulous with kids and they love learning from him. You can book a tour with Girri Girra here.

Length: The Box Head track is 3.1km return.
Age group: It’s perfect for kids aged 4 and up.
Location: Hawke Head Drive, Killcare. 
Learn more: visit the National Parks website.


37. PATONGA TO PEARL BEACH WALKING TRACK

This is a walk where your efforts are rewarded with dramatic, sweeping views across the Tasman Sea. Watch boats glide past below and gaze across the waves to the Barranjoey Lighthouse at Palm Beach. The Warrah Lookout is the highlight of the walk and makes a great spot to pause for a snack. It can get quite windy here so hold on to your hats! Abundant native flowers brighten the path in Spring, and while there is some uphill climbing involved, the views really do make it worthwhile. You can start this track from either Patonga or Pearl Beach – leave a car at each end, or simply walk to the lookout and back again instead.

Length: This track is 3km one way.
Age group: It’s great for kids aged 5 and up.
Location: The track runs between Patonga Drive, Patonga and Crystal Avenue, Pearl Beach.
Learn more: visit the National Parks website.


38. KANNING CAVE WALK, KINCUMBA MOUNTAIN

Kincumba Mountain is a fabulous place to explore. At the large picnic area at the top of the hill, you’ll find a mud-brick building (available for hire for gatherings), free BBQ facilities, shelters and public toilets. There are ample grass spaces for kids to kick a ball or play tip, as well as Honeman’s Rock (aka Honeyman’s Rock) – a large 60m-long and 30m-wide rocky outcrop that just begs exploration. The nearby Kanning Cave Walk is one of our favourite family hikes as it’s an easy 1km track that crosses bridges and passes multiple sandstone caves. The largest cave is a sacred woman’s birthing place for the Darkinjung People.

Length: The Kanning Cave Walk is 1km long.
Age group: Kids 2 and up will enjoy exploring here.
Location: Kincumba Mountain Reserve, Kincumber. 
Learn more: visit the WildWalks website.


39. SOMERSBY FALLS

Somersby Falls is one of those often-overlooked areas that people talk about visiting but never quite get to, and when you do finally visit you kick yourself for not visiting sooner as it really is magic. There are two waterfalls – both accessed via the steep (and often slippery) Somersby Falls Walking Track. Following rain, water cascades down the rocks creating pools of water and much laughter from children splashing and dancing beneath. There are free barbecue facilities and toilets at the Somersby Falls picnic area – just near the car park – which makes it a great space for lunch.

Length: The walk to explore the Falls is 500m return.
Age group: We recommend it for kids aged 4 and up.
Location: End of Somersby Falls Rd, Somersby.
Learn more: visit the National Parks website.


40. BULGANDRY ART SITE ABORIGINAL PLACE

In Brisbane Water National Park you’ll find the Bulgandry Art Site Aboriginal Place – a special landscape of well-preserved indigenous engravings. The site is just a short walk from the car park – perfect for little legs – and the raised boardwalk surrounding the site offers walkers (both big and little) a good vantage from which to view the centuries-old rock art. Kids love finding and pointing out the engravings of fish, wallabies, a dolphin and a man.

Length: The track is 300m long.
Age group: We recommend it for kids aged 2 and up.
Location: Bulgandry Rd, Kariong (off Woy Woy Rd). 
Learn more: visit the National Parks website.


Written By: ALISON MCCANN

Contributor

Alison is a busy local mum who enjoys exploring the Coast’s spectacular natural spaces. You’ll often find her out on a bush trail with her husband and three kids. With a background in media production, communication and marketing, she loves sharing stories about the wonderful region we get to call home. Follow her on Instagram @CentralCoastNatureKids.



Written By: KATIE STOKES

Founder & Editor

After working in print and online media for more than a decade, Katie launched Playing in Puddles in 2017. A mum of two young boys and local of the Central Coast, Katie loves discovering and sharing all that’s happening in our region.