The Entrance, New South Wales: Travel guide and things to do

The Entrance derives its name from the narrow channel that divides the mainland and connects Tuggerah Lake to the ocean on the Central Coast of NSW. It is located 99 km north of Sydney via The Newcastle Freeway.

The Entrance is a popular holiday resort and retirement centre offering visitors surfing beaches, an enormous lake and a central area which has attractive foreshore parkland (Memorial Park), a Boardwalk (a pathway from Memorial Park around to the surf lifesaving club), and the development of a child-friendly open-air mall called The Waterfront which is full of fountains, cafes and eateries. In 1998 this public usage area will be greatly extended and four-star, high-rise accommodation will go up next to The Entrance Hotel.

In 1796 shipwrecked fishermen landed on the coast. They were fed by the local Aborigines who guided them most of the way home. When they returned to Sydney they told of a white woman living amongst the indigenous peoples and this resulted in an excursion to find the woman. The search party became the first Europeans to discover Tuggerah Lake.

The first European settler was Henry Holden who, in 1828, selected 260 ha at Picnic Point. Thomas Batley took up land in 1836. Chinese fishermen established a base in the late 1820s at what is now Toowoon Bay (still known to some as Chinamans Bay). There they cured and smoked their fish and sent them to Queensland, back to China and, later, to the goldfields. They settled at Picnic Point after the goldrushes were over. This area was also a loading point for locally cut timber.

The last Aborigine to frequent Tuggerah Lake on his bark canoe was Billy Fawkner who died in 1875. He was known as 'the last of the Brisbane Water blackfellows', the remainder of his tribe killed by disease and dispossessed of their land.

Known by a number of names over the years - Toowoon Bay, Tuggerah Beach, Karagi (the Aboriginal name for the channel) - the settlement around the channel became The Entrance when the post office opened under that name in 1911.

Tourism got under way in the late 19th century with a new emphasis on health and leisure in the culture and the completion of the rail line from Sydney to Newcastle in 1889. Sydneysiders began to travel by launch from the train station at Wyong or from Sydney direct by seaboat, to fish, bath and walk in the area. A holiday camp was established at Toowoon Bay in the early 1890s and the first guesthouse in the area opened at North Entrance in 1895.

The first school opened in 1915 and the first church was built in 1926. Growth remained slow until the 1920s but, in that decade, The Entrance became a popular tourist spot for people drawn by the fishing and beaches. The first bridge linking the two sides of the channel was erected in 1934. The Entrance has been a particularly popular tourist destination since the freeway was built in the 1960s.

Anglers will find the area good for flathead, whiting, bream, blackfish and prawns. The sea-wall adjoining the boatshed near the bridge is a good spot for blackfish. Surf fishing from November to April yields jewfish, whiting and tailor.

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The lake is the principal coastal lagoon of an interconnected 80 sq km lake system. At its northern tip a narrow channel separates it from Budgewoi Lake which is joined, at its north-eastern corner, to Lake Munmorah. Tuggerah Lake is about 12 x 8 km in diameter. The three lagoons are separated from the Pacific Ocean by long, narrow peninsulas but share common access to the ocean at The Entrance. Less than 2 m deep on average, shark-free and fed by small streams such as Wyong Creek the lakes are ideal for waterskiing, canoeing, sailing, rowing and sailboarding. The lakes and foreshores were cleaned up and restored in the late 1980s. Tuggerah Lake is also ideal for anglers. Blackfish, whiting, mullet, snapper, bream, flounder, tailor, flathead, jewfish, tarwhine and crabs can all be caught from the foreshores. Prawns are usually plentiful in mid-summer and can be snared at night with a lamp and net by wading into the shallows.

Things to see

Memorial Park
The local visitors' information centre is located in a large white building in Memorial Park. There is a large carpark adjacent. The Boardwalk is a walkway which follows the channel eastwards from Memorial Park around to the surf lifesaving club. It starts adjacent The Waterfront, a sunny, al fresco mall with cafes, eateries and fountains designed for the amusement of children. There are rides at The Waterfront in the school holidays which run into the evening when the mall is brightly lit and frequented by visitors. The atmosphere is pleasant and safe. One of the pleasant daily rituals at The Entrance is the pelican feeding which occurs in the park at 3.30 p.m. There is also an arts-and-crafts market just outside the visitors' centre on Sundays.

Picnic Point
At the north-western corner of the southern peninsula, off Tuggerah Parade, is Picnic Point where there is a pleasant park and a boat ramp. To the north, beyond Budgewoi Lake the large stacks of Munmorah Power Station can be clearly seen with those of Vales Point Power Station, on the southern shore of Lake Macquarie, in the distance. Pelican Island, a breeding site for migratory wading birds, lies just offshore.

War Museum
The Entrance War Library Museum is located at 313 The Entrance Rd adjacent Tuggerah Lakes Memorial Club. They possess memorabilia dating back to the Crimean War and are open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10.00 a.m. - 12.00 and 2.00 p.m. - 4.00 p.m. or by appointment, contact (02) 4333 1823.

Long Jetty
Nearby, on the south-western side of the southern peninsula is Long Jetty the base of sailing on Tuggerah Lake. The Long Jetty Sailing Club is at the northern end of Tuggerah Parade. For information on sailing activities and major races ring the club on weekends, contact (02) 4332 8861.

Swadling Park
Heading south along the southern peninsula there are a number of bays and rocky headlands. There is Blue Bay, Toowoon Bay, Little Bay, Shelly Beach (a major surf beach) and Bateau Bay. There is a very pleasant park (Swadling Park) at Toowoon Point which divides, and provides perspectives down over, Little Bay and Toowoon Bay.

Wyrrabalong National Park
The park covers 597 ha but is divided into two quite distinct and 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 Bateau Bay and Forresters Beach, 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 which have 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.

Reserve Drive runs alongside a strip of parkland that overlooks the small and rather beautiful Bateau Bay. At the southern end of Reserve Drive turn right into Yaruga St then left into Hilltop St which will take you to Crackneck Lookout (274 m high) where there is a large clearing and carpark with information boards and a picnic-barbecue area. The views are quite spectacular.

Wyrrabalong Lookout is further south on Cromarty Hill. There is a carpark 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 panoramic views south to The Skillion at Terrigal.

A 3.8 km walking track starts on the eastern side of Bateau Bay Rd at Blue Lagoon, finishing at Wyrrabalong Lookout. If you prefer a shorter walk the 1.6-km track between the two lookouts leads through attractive woodland along the cliffline. For further information contact (02) 4324 4911.

The park's northern section covers most of the North Entrance Peninsula. It starts at the tip of North Entrance and ends at Pelican Point south of Noraville. Wilfred Barrett Drive runs through the park. There is a considerable diversity of fauna and flora, including the lace monitor, flying fox, bandicoot, squirrel glider, diamond python, possum, New Holland Mouse, antechinus and many birds.

The ocean side is mostly coastal dunes with beach access via Pelican Beach Rd (at the northern end) and the Tuggerah Beach Walking Track (700 m) which leads to a popular but unpatrolled surfing and fishing area.

On the western side of the road there is a lovely strip of red gum forest though there are also remnants of littoral rainforest and some open scrubland and wetlands. All can be explored by means of colour-coded walking tracks, accessed from two carparks on the western side of Barrett Drive. The carparks contain information boards outlining the lengths of the different tracks which intersect with each other so that it is possible to explore them all from one starting point. The wetlands trail extends northwards to the rim of the main sand dune where there are viewing platforms.

Wyrrabalong National Park also includes Pelican Island and Terilbah Island in Tuggerah Lake, which are breeding sites for migratory wading birds. For further information contact (02) 4324 4911.

Tours, Cruises and Other Services
There are boats, canoes and bikes for hire, as well as bait and tackle, from The Entrance Boat House on The Entrance Rd (under the bridge), contact (02) 4332 2652. On the south-eastern shore of the lake (the south-western side of the southern peninsula), is Long Jetty where you will find Long Jetty Catamaran and Boat Hire (cnr Tuggerah Parade and Pacific St), contact (02) 4332 9362. Divers should consult Pro Dive Central Coast who can show you the best spots. They also offer lessons, contact (02) 4334 1559. Wandering the Lake Cruises are due to commence operations at the end of 1997. There is currently no such service.

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. 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.

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.

Tourist Informatoin

Visitors Centre
Memorial Park Marine Parade
The Entrance NSW 2261
Telephone: (02) 4385 4430 or 1800 806 258

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