Terrigal has an airy beauty and ritzy up-market feel. The pleasant ambience may have something to do with the stand of very well-established Norfolk pines along The Esplanade which lend character and beauty to the beachfront. A pathway beneath the trees leads alongside the beach and out to the most prominent natural feature of Terrigal, the oddly-shaped headland known as 'The Skillion'.
Terrigal is one of the most popular residential, holiday resort and retirement centres on the Central Coast. It is located 91 km north of Sydney via the Newcastle Freeway. Visitors flock here for fishing, swimming, surfing, boating, waterskiing and the natural scenery. Anglers will find snapper, flathead and jewfish offshore and bream, flathead and blackfish in the surf.
Terrigal Beach marks the southern end of four kilometres of unbroken beach which extends northwards to Wamberal Point. Just behind the middle section is Terrigal Lagoon.
The original inhabitants were reputedly the Awabakal or Guringgai Aborigines. It is known that the latter tribe wore possum hair belts (in which they carried their few possessions) and, occasionally, possum skin clothing. The men carried spears, boomerangs, stone axes, boomerangs and shields and hunted large prey such as kangaroos and fish which they speared. The women, however, provided most of the food - fish (caught on fishing lines), shellfish, fruit, tubers, insect larvae, snakes, lizards and small mammals.
The first European settler was John Gray who arrived in 1826 and called his property Tarrygal, after the indigenous place name, signifying 'place of little birds'.
There was a sawmill in the area established by Thomas Davis in the 1870s. It produced about 150 km of wood a week and employed 120 men (including 70 teamsters for carting the logs) and a tramway ran the timber to a jetty for shipment to Sydney.
Dairying later became important to the local economy. Tourism really got under way at the end of the 19th century thanks to a new focus on health and leisure in the culture and the opening up of the area to the general public with the completion of the railway line from Sydney to Newcastle in 1889 and the development of the roads.
Things to see
Terrigal Lagoon and Rotary Park
Rotary Park lies between the southern shore of Terrigal Lagoon and Terrigal Drive. Large trees line the lake's foreshore and, on the eastern side of the bridge, in the corner of the large park, is a paddleboat and canoe hire service.
The most prominent feature of Terrigal is the headland, known as Broken Head, just over the hill from the main shopping strip. The northern side of the headland is quite wide and flat, constituting an open grassy parkland. What makes it distinctive is 'The Skillion' on the southern side (called Kurawyba by the Awabakal Aborigines). This narrow section of the headland rises dramatically in an easterly direction to a considerable height over a very short distance. The surface is well-grassed so it makes a short but steep walk where the view is worth the climb. There is a lookout south to First Point beyond Avoca Beach and north to Yumbool Point in Wyrrabalong National Point just south of The Entrance.
Terrigal Beach marks the southern end of 4 km of unbroken beach which extends northwards to Spoon Bay on the southern side of Wamberal Point. The northern section is known as Wamberal Beach - a good patrolled family beach with moderate surf and a rockpool area.
Just behind the northern beach is tranquil Wamberal Lagoon. The land on either side of the lagoon is a sanctuary for protected birds and animals - best seen from Remembrance Drive, which runs off Ocean View Drive. The car park at the end of Remembrance Drive has an information sign regarding the reserve and is also a convenient access point to Wamberal Beach, the surf lifesaving club and a kiosk, all just around the corner.
On the northern side of Wamberal Point is Forresters Beach, named after Robert Forrester who settled there in 1861. It is another holiday area with a quiet beach and scenic views. Hang-gliding is common. Kalakau Avenue runs along the beachfront. There is an elevated viewing platform opposite Crystal St. The beach is about 1 km in length from the rocky headland of Cromarty Hill to the north, within Wyrrabalong National Park.
Wyrrabalong National Park
The park covers 597 ha but is divided into two physically separate sections. Wyrrabalong, meaning 'headland looking over the sea' is a word of the Darkinjung people who once occupied the narrow strip of coastline between Forresters Beach and Bateau Bay, which now constitutes the southern section of the park (140 ha).
The southern section is characterised by high, exposed coastal cliffs of sandstone and shale and extensive rock platforms at either end that are ideal for fishing and exploring at low tide. There are woodlands of blackbutt, spotted gum and bloodwood along the plateau, with shrubs and heath (mostly coastal banksia and she-oak) on the gentler slopes to the west. There is plenty of marine and bird life and mangrove stands at the southern end of Bateau Bay. Fauna includes goannas, bandicoots, fantails and the tawny frogmouth.
Wyrrabalong Lookout is located on Cromarty Hill. There is a car park and an adjacent concrete platform with views to the south and west. A short path leads to Wyrrabalong Lookout on the cliff's edge, 132 m above sea-level, from where there are views south to The Skillion.
A 1.6-km walking track leads along the cliffs through the attractive woodland to the other viewing platform, Crackneck Lookout (274 m high) where there is a large clearing and car park with information boards and a picnic-barbecue area. The walking track continues northwards for another 2 km to Bateau Bay. For further information contact National Parks and Wildlife Service (02) 4320 4200.
Tours, Cruises and Other Services
Terrigal Dive Centre is located at The Haven, on the headland, contact (02) 4384 1219, as is Terrigal Fishing Charters, contact (02) 4383 1219. Central Coast Charters conduct reef and game fishing cruises as well as seasonal whale watching cruises departing from Terrigal and can be contacted on 0427 665 544.
It's Easy Tours organise luxury coach holidays with day tours of the Central Coast and out to Wiseman's Ferry, contact (02) 4340 1037. Coast-n-Away tours are a boutique tour company specialising in day tours of the Central Coast and Hunter Valley including progressive dinner parties, art gallery, winery and golf trips. The also cater to individual needs with tailored tours to suit you, contact (02) 4352 1139. Central Coast Bushworks offer guided bushwalks in the area as well as absailing, all equipment supplied, contact (02) 4363 2028 or 0419 254 906.
Visitors Information Centre
Rotary Park Terrigal Drive
Terrigal NSW 2260
Telephone: (02) 4385 4430 or 1300 132 975