Travelling Australia
NSW Central Coast
The Central Cost of New South Wales lies between Sydney and Newcastle, bounded on the south by the Hawkesbury River and on the north by Lake Macquarie. Wyong Shire is in the middle of the Central Coast surrounding the Tuggerah Lakes and extending inland. Much of the area of 56 square kilometres in Wyong Shire between the F3 freeway and the coast is devoted to low density housing for a population growing at 2.8% a year - twice as fast as Sydney proper. Central Coast townships have multiple roles as residential centres for people working locally or in Sydney, as retirement residential areas, and as centres for holiday makers attracted to the area by good weather, beaches and facilities for fishing and other water activities. National parks preserving native vegetation provide a contrast to townships and growing areas of housing.

Further inland, the rural lifestyle is maintained on highlands and plateaux growing tall eucalyptus forests. Roads running up river valleys from the busy coastal residential areas take the traveller into quieter rural areas with some specialised activities such as alpacas, lavender and macadamias in the Yarramalong Valley (the macadamia farm there claims to be the southernmost operational macadamia farm in New South Wales).

Climate is classified as "temperate, hot summer, no dry season". Average annual rainfall at Norah Head on the coast is 1143.9 mm a year; maximum in May and lowest in October; rainfall is recorded in all months. The hottest month at Norah Head is February (25.8°C to 19.9°C); the coolest month of the year is July (17.2° to 9.7°).

Gosford is the major centre on the Central Coast with a population now in excess of 100,000. Before 1880 the Gosford area was mainly used by timber getters but there was little development; the region had a reputation as a haven for escaped convicts and smugglers living in the bush used the waterways to escape capture if pursued. Completion of the Sydney to Newcastle railway line in 1880 opened up the area permitting existing industries, such as timber getting, to expand using cheap rail transport to markets in Sydney. Rail transport also allowed home buyers access to cheap land and carried leisure seekers from Sydney. The city of Gosford was proclaimed in 1980.

North of Gosford, the main activity before settlement was grazing cattle and developing dairy farms, after 1820 there was some timber getting, especially for cedar in the Yarramalong and Dooralong Valleys. Completion of the Sydney-Newcastle railway line allowed timber-getters and fishermen to send their products to market in Sydney and the region began growing. Resorts were established along Tuggerah Lake around 1900 and Wyong became the administrative and commercial centre of the region. During the 1920s and 1930s land here was cheaper than that available in Sydney or Newcastle and many weekenders were built on new subdivisions. Wyong Shire was created in 1947 and, in the late 1940s and 1950s retirees began settling there. Establishment of the F3 Sydney-Newcastle Freeway in the 1960s and electrification of the railway prompted further growth of settlement on the Central Coast.

Lakes and waterways are an essential feature of the Wyong Shire. Most prominent is the Tuggerah Lakes system comprising Tuggerah Lake, Budgewoi Lake and Lake Munmorah (interconnected with a single opening to the sea at The Entrance). Thousands of years ago these lakes were part of a broad, shallow bay with offshore islands formed as sea-level rose. After sea level stabilised, wave action and currents formed sandy barriers across the mouth of the bay between headlands and offshore islands. Tidal flows and outflow of river water scoured a single channel (at The Entrance) permitting interchange of lake and ocean water. These shallow lakes would usually have been filled by river sediment in succeeding centuries but rivers flowing from the Great Dividing Range, notably Wyong River and Ourimbah Creek, carried only enough sediment to form estuaries in the lake. These shallow bodies of water, and the estuarine seagrass meadows growing in them, have become home to numerous waterbirds and fish. The strip of sand and rocky headlands along the coast, separating the Tuggerah Lakes from the sea, forms the sandy beaches so attractive to visitors and local residents. Inland of the lakes, rolling hills of infertile clay soils support low woodlands.

The future will be interesting for the Central Coast as all levels of government try to balance the demands of growing population, increasing visitor numbers and expanding residential areas with a desire to preserve the amenity of this attractive region on the edge of Sydney, especially the beaches, national parks, and waterways with their birds and fish.

  Coasts - An Introduction to Systematic Geomorphology by E.C.F. Bird, ANU Press, Canberra, 1976. pp190-201.
  Estuaries Fact Sheet: Physical Characteristics by NSW Department of Natural Resources at - accessed October 2007
  AUSeMADE at - accessed October 2007
  Wyong Shire State of The Environment Report - Land and Urban Quality.