Gosford - Places to See

Information Centre
The Gosford Visitors' Information Centre is located on the corner of Mann St (the name given to the Pacific Highway as it passes through town) and Burns Crescent, adjacent the train station. It is clearly signposted and the obvious place to start an investigation of the area.

Old Courthouse
There are very few historical remnants to be seen in Gosford. One is the former Gosford courthouse. The oldest public building on the Central Coast, it was designed by colonial architect Mortimer Lewis and built in 1848-49 of local sandstone to replace the original 1827 watch-house which had fallen into disrepair. Located on the elevated land near the corner of Mann St and Georgiana Tce it consists of three linked single-storey elements made principally of sandstone. The original shingle roof has been replaced. It now houses the Central Coast Music Conservatorium.

Christ Church
A little further south along Mann St, on the same side of the road, is Christ Church. An attractive building, it was built in 1857-58 at the corner of Webb and George Sts in East Gosford which was then the busiest part of Gosford due to the ease of access by boat. The move to its present site took place in 1906 and reflects the shift in the settlement's centre of gravity. It became a rectory when rebuilt and is now a church hall.

Pioneer Park
Pioneer Park is a pleasant and tranquil park facing out into Brisbane Water. It contains a number of historic gravestones.

Gosford City Art Centre
The Gosford City Art Centre has a beautiful Japanese garden established by Gosford's sister Japanese city, Edogowa. The pond is full of bright koi, some of them enormous. The centre is open seven days, contact (02) 4325 0056. It is situated in parkland with a walking track nearby that leads to the showroom of Central Coast Potter's Society in nearby Russell Drysdale St (open Friday to Sunday). Art lovers may wish to have a look at Central Coast Galleries at 87 Mann St.

The first land in what is now called Erina was granted to newly-arrived free settler William Bean in 1824. It was then full of thick scrub and gigantic trees. Apparently some of the tree stumps served as sheds and temporary homes when hollowed out. This natural resource meant the area became important as a source of hardwood, especially after the building boom in Sydney in the late 1860s.

Katandra Reserve
Together with Rumbalara Reserve, Katandra constitutes 53 ha of outstanding bushland very close to the centre of Gosford. The two areas are very similar in their physical features though Katandra is perhaps more striking and distinctive with steeper cliffs. Together they constitute one of the town's major attractions.

One of the reserve's finest walking trails, the Waterman Walk (1.2 km), commences from the Katandra Rd entrance and winds along the northern edge of the reserve. It is easy going and makes a fairly dramatic transition from pleasant forest to dense canopied and very beautiful rainforest by Seymour Pond, which it circles.


The Waterman Walk links up with Toomeys Walk (2.3 km) which will take you to St John Lookout at the western end of the reserve, or you can take Graves Walk (1.4 km) which runs along the southern end of the reserve from the Katandra Rd entrance to the lookout. Situated atop a ridge it is the apex of the 53 ha and offers panoramic views eastwards across the Matcham Valley and Erina Heights towards Terrigal and the ocean. It is located within a large grassed area with picnic facilities off Taylors Rd. Take MacDonalds Rd off the highway at Lisarow, turn right after 1.1 km into The Ridgeway, right again after 700 m into Tapley Rd then left after another kilometre into Taylor Rd. The Guringai Walk (1.2 km) circles the picnic area. The Mouat Walk (5 km) commences here and will take you to Rumbalara Reserve.

The Fragrant Garden
The Fragrant Garden (25 Portsmouth Road), a genuinely pleasant and well-organised Victorian-style cottage garden of herbs and sweet-smelling plants with an old-world feel. It is situated on five acres with a nursery, waterfall, young childrens' playground, a cafe and a large collection of items including books, pottery, crafts, oils and gifts housed in a mudbrick gallery. The 'Fairy Godmother' and her theatrical friends tell stories for the children on Tuesdays at 10.30 and every weekday in school holidays for $5, which includes 'fairy food'. They are open daily, contact (02) 4367 7322.

Rumbalara Reserve
Rumbalara Reserve has an information board outlining the walking trails, of which there are eight, ranging in length from 450 m to 3 km. The Grass Tree Track (1.7 km) commences here and joins up with the Mouat Walk (5 km) to Katandra Reserve. If you don't wish to undertake one of the longer walks then try the short and rather beautiful Orchid Track (750 m) which starts from here, as does the longer Red Gum Track which leads past a rock shelter believed to have accommodated migratory Aborigines.

At the end of the roadway is a large roundabout which is circled by the short Iron Bark Track, taking in Nurrunga Point Lookout which gazes westwards, though the tree growth obscures the view to a degree. There are bronze sculptures of explorer Matthew Flinders and pioneer aviator Charles Kingsford-Smith nearby. The Casuarina Track also departs from here and links up with other tracks to the south, taking in Ouranga Lookout and some remnant rainforest at Capper's Gully.

Wyoming Cottage
On the corner of the Pacific Highway and Wyoming Rd, is Wyoming Cottage (1842). Frederick Hely applied for the post of police magistrate of the Lower Hawkesbury in 1832 and, expecting to work from Wyoming, he commissioned a design for a cottage from architect John Verge. However, the governor found Hely too competent to permit his permanent departure from Sydney and denied permission. Hely died in 1836, the year the cottage's foundation stone was laid. It was completed in 1842 for his widow. The homestead has been extended over the years but the basic structure is intact.

Miniature Steam Trains
Just to the west is the suburb of Narara where you will find the Central Coast Steam Model Co-op at Lot 10, Showground Rd, contact (02) 4388 2416. They operate miniature train rides from 11.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m. on the first Saturday of the month. There is a picnic area and refreshments are available.

Forest of Tranquillity
4.1-km along Ourimbah Creek Rd is the turnoff to the deservedly award-winning Forest of Tranquillity Rainforest and Bird Sanctuary, undoubtedly one of the finest attractions in the Gosford area.

The sanctuary is situated in a beautiful valley enfolding subtropical and temperate rainforest. There are covered picnic areas, a childrens' playground, a kiosk and a walkway, beside which wallabies and brush turkeys tend to congregate, that leads to the main attraction, some truly exquisite rainforest walks.

Ourimbah represents the southernmost point at which a number of rainforest species can be found in Australia. There are literally hundreds of tiny handwritten signs attached to the trees and bushes containing information about the flora and fauna. There are native birds (including lyrebirds, catbirds, satin bowerbirds, bellbirds, brush turkeys, king parrots and eastern whipbirds), wombats and a range of other smaller animals. The sanctuary is open Wednesday to Sunday and public and school holidays from 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m., contact (02) 4362 1855.

From mid-November to mid-December the Forest of Tranquillity has the Firefly Festival where, every evening between 6.00 p.m. - 8.00 p.m. from Friday to Sunday visitors can watch the fireflies in the evening sky.

Ellyett's Herbal Gardens
On the eastern side of Ourimbah are Ellyett's Herbal Gardens, where medicinal, and some culinary, herbs are grown. There are guided tours, free herbal tea tastings, a shop selling plants, teas and books, and several walking trails through the bush. If you bring your lunch there are pleasant spots for a picnic. Opening times are 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m. on the first and last Sundays of the month, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in school holidays and other times by appointment, contact (02) 4362 1626.

Carawah Reserve
An elevated boardwalk has been constructed through this estuarine wetland. It passes through seagrasses, mangroves, mudflats, swamp forests and salt marshes. Information boards explain the nature of the plants. Unfortunately the illegal dumping of oil has ruined a section. A detailed pamphlet expanding on the information boards is available from the visitors' centre.

Henry Kendall Cottage
West Gosford lies on the other side of Henry Kendall Bridge which is aptly named as there is a cottage at West Gosford which was temporarily home to Kendall, one of Australia's most famous colonial poets, who was befriended by the children of an important early settler in the district, Peter Fagan.

Charles Fagan apparently encountered Kendall as a tramp on the roadside. After initial success as a poet, Kendall had been dragged down by the poverty that ensued from supporting a drunken mother and brother, a disastrously married sister and a wife (in what was a problematic marriage), by the deaths of three close friends and supporters (including the suicide of Adam Lindsay Gordon) and by the death of his daughter, for which he felt terrible guilt as he put it down to malnutrition. Increasingly dependent upon alcohol and opium his wife left him and he went insane. It was after his release from a mental asylum that the Fagans encountered him, again a drunkard. With their help he was returned to health, employment, his family, writing and publishing. He was subsequently rewarded with a job as inspector of state forests by his old admirer and first publisher Henry Parkes. Unfortunately the work contributed to the ruination of his health and he died in 1882 at the age of 43.

The Fagans put Kendall up from 1874-75 in the sandstone cottage which was built of local sandstone for Peter Fagan by convict labour between 1836 and 1840 and licensed in the latter year as the Red Cow Inn. Situated in one hectare of pleasant parkland (with picnic areas) it has been restored and is located at 27 Henry Kendall St.

The museum retains a few of Kendall's possessions but has generally been filled with items of local history. The bulk of the extensive display is in an adjacent building. A slab shed (recently built) features antiquated agricultural items. The complex is open from 10.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m. Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and public and school holidays, or by arrangement, contact (02) 4325 2270. Nearby, at Coorumbine Creek, is Kendalls Glen, a pleasant and peaceful spot which inspired some of his poetry. His initials are carved on a rock there (inquire at the museum).

The Koorie Trading Post
The Koorie Trading Post is located just outside Old Sydney Town, facing the carpark. They sell Aboriginal arts and crafts.

Australian Reptile Park and Wildlife Sanctuary
Located in a bushland setting they have Australia's largest reptile collection. There are alligators, lizards, crocodiles, giant galapagos turtles, kangaroos, koalas, platypus, echidnae, Tasmanian devils, emus, dingoes and snakes.There is alligator handling, the feeding of enormous Eric the Croc, reptile demonstrations, a platypusary, a noctarium and the milking of snakes (the venom is distributed throughout the world for the creation of antivenenes and for use in research). There are picnic and barbecue areas, a nature walk, a playground, a swimming pool and a kiosk. They are open daily from 9.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m, contact (02) 4340 1146.

Brisbane Water National Park
400 m further south along the old Pacific Highway is a turnoff to the left into Girrakool Picnic Area, the main access point for Brisbane Water National Park (11 372 ha) which covers most of the land between the western shore of Brisbane Water and the freeway. It consists of open woodland with hanging swamps and well-established pockets of subtropical rainforest in the steep sandstone gorges where tree ferns, cabbage tree palms, elkhorns and rock orchids thrive. There are numerous bushwalks to pursue, fishing and photographic opportunities, picnic-barbecue areas and a plenitude of birdlife.

The park contains the large tidal inlets of Mooney Mooney Creek and Mullet Creek which connect with the Hawkesbury River to the south. They were once river valleys that were flooded when the sea-level rose after the last ice age. Wildflowers bloom profusely in late winter and spring and there are mangroves in the estuarine mudflats around Patonga and the two main creeks. Animal life includes wallabies, marsupial mice, bush rats, gliders, echidnae, platypus, possums and 175 species of birds such as kookaburras, parrots, cockatoos, lyrebirds, honeyeaters, coucals, owls and thrushes.

Girrakool has fireplaces, amenities and numerous walking tracks, including a 30-km trek to Patonga in the south. A branch path near Patonga leads to Warrah Trig and Lookout. Overlooking Broken Bay 200 m below, it is the best lookout in the park with excellent views over Broken Bay, the mouth of the Hawkesbury on the Bay's western side, Pittwater receding southwards and Barrenjoey Head at the south-eastern corner of the Bay. There are plenty of wildflowers from July to October.

The Mooney Nature Walk (4 hours) also starts at the Girrakool Picnic Area and runs along the sides of a deep gorge over Piles Creek. There is some climbing involved. There is a 30-minute loop track which takes you to a large rock platform which features some historic Aboriginal engravings, most clearly visible at dawn, dusk or when wet. Hawkesbury sandstone proved ideal for the engravings of the Gurringai tribe.

It is also possible to drive through the southern section of the park. Turn off the Pacific Highway into Woy Woy Rd. 2.7 km along is a signposted turnoff to the carpark for the Bulgandry Aboriginal Engravings site. It is a short walk along a path to the flat rock surface which lies horizontal at ground level. A pathway has been constructed around the circumference of the site for optimum viewing and minimal damage. There are good information boards nearby which look at what is known of the Guringai and the etchings.

The figures are of men, women, marine life, kangaroos and canoes. It is not known to what extent they form a narrative. They probably started as a charcoal or scratched outline that was then made permanent by 'pecking' holes along the outline with a pointed stone with the area between the holes later rubbed away. Although a good surviving example, erosion has taken its toll and the figures are sometimes indistinct, though the information boards are helpful in providing clarity. Again, the engravings are clearest at dawn or dusk or after rain.

It is another 2 km to Staples Lookout, on the left, which affords a commanding view eastwards over the park to Woy Woy Bay in the distance. The Tommos Loop Trail adjoins the road at two points. From Woy Woy it is possible to take the Ocean Beach Rd south to Mt Ettalong Lookout, then via Patonga Drive past the Warrah Lookout to Patonga.

Another possibility is to access the park via train. Get off at Wondabyne train station (check on the fire danger with the National Parks and Wildlife Service before leaving, inform the guard you wish to stop there and be aware of return train times), and take the Pindar Cave Walk which is clearly marked and which starts behind the station. For more details on walking trails, there are publications available from the NPWS, contact (02) 4324 4911. Visible from Wondabyne Station are the results of the Wondabyne Sculpture Symposium which involved twelve sculptors from six different nations contributing monuments to the site.

Somersby Falls
Start from the intersection of Wisemans Ferry Rd and the Pacific Highway, head north along the former for 600 m and turn left into Somersby Falls Rd at the roundabout. Turn left again after 2 km and it is 700 m down this last road to the carpark and a lovely picnic area by the falls. A path leads down alongside Floods Creek to three viewing platforms, each a descent in altitude and into an increasingly dense rainforest habitat. The last is the most impressive so keep going.

Glenworth Valley Horse Riding
Glenworth Valley Horse Riding is located at Cooks Rd, Peats Ridge, west of Somersby. To get there turn west off the freeway at the Calga interchange along the Peats Ridge Highway. They are open from 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m. daily with accommodation and free camping. The trails can be free range or guided and they take you through 2500 acres of rainforest, lush valleys, creeks and rock pools, contact (02) 4375 1222.

Great North Walk
The area west of Gosford is part of the 250-km Great North Walk from Sydney to Newcastle, a 14-day walk taking in a wide range of environments and attractions, both natural and man-made. It can be broken down into smaller subsections. For more information contact the Dept of Lands on (02) 9228 6111.

Tours, Cruises and Other Services
A number of operators will pick up clients from their homes, though this may depend upon whether there are sufficient numbers. Central Coast Kayak Tours will pick people up from most Central Coast train stations (there is also a daily coach service from Sydney), contact (02) 4381 0342. Meals are provided and no experience is necessary. Central Coast Bushworks offer guided bushwalks in the area as well as abseiling, all equipment supplied, contact (02) 4363 2028.

Alcheringa Tours at 20 Sierra Crescent, East Gosford, offer tours for small groups of varying duration into the local caves and national parks, contact (02) 4325 5966. It's Easy Tours organise luxury coach holidays with day tours of the Central Coast and out to Wisemans Ferry, contact (02) 4340 1037. Fresh Tracks Safaris specialise in 4WD tours of the Central Coast, the Hunter Vineyards and Aboriginal sites, contact (02) 4385 3024. Blunsdon Day Tours and Charters run mini-coach day tours around the Central Coast and other areas. They will pick you up by arrangement, contact (02) 4328 1317. Aeroflite offer scenic flights over the Central Coast for up to seven passengers, as well as charter flights. They depart from Warnervale aerodrome, just north of Wyong, contact (02) 4392 4199.

Starship Cruises offer cruises of Brisbane Water and Broken Bay on the MV Lady Kendall. Built in 1901 it's reputedly the oldest working vessel in Australia. The 2.5 hour cruises depart Gosford Wharf at 10.15 am and 1 pm Saturday to Wednesday and every day in the school holidays, contact (02) 4323 1655. Broken Bay Fishing Charters operate within Broken Bay, the Hawkesbury and Pittwater, contact (02) 4342 7207.

Buzzy Boats Watersports have mini speed boats, water skiing and water toboggans. They operate from Charts Wharf, off Dane Drive, by the Brian McGowan Bridge. So too do Terrigal Sightsee Parasailing, contact (02) 4381 1563. Gosford also has a golf club, deepwater boat ramps off Dane Drive and Masons Parade, extensive cycleways, as outlined in a pamphlet available from the information centre and houseboat hire (02-4384 3499).