This sleepy seaside village is getting creative
Life on the Central Coast is many things.
It’s astounding in its beauty, with a deep healing inherent in this land that is so far from civilisation (I’m from LA, forgive me). Being this close to nature is something you can’t get in the city, where nature is more populated. It’s like it gives you all its attention.
Meanwhile, sea changers like myself are eager to create what they’re looking for, and also capitalise on the potential. Yes, it’s a sleepy beach town, but one with a growing sense of creative urgency to express itself and give its artists both a presence and a reason to stay.
At the centre of it all is Terrigal, a beautiful beachy suburb that now has more reasons to visit than ever before. Here are some of them:
Mumbo Jumbo’s has filled an aching gap in the Coastal casual dining scene by bringing good vibes, aesthetics and cocktails to Terrigal, all with the very best seat in the house. The space has been transformed into a kind of ramshackle Caribbean paradise, heavily influenced by Jamaican beach bars, with an expansive view that overlooks the whole of Terrigal beach.
There’s ample seating outside, a gorgeously decorated indoor dining and bar area, plus a back garden bar. The drinks menu (rum features heavily, ala Jamaica) never disappoints, and its food is also right on point. Evolving with the seasons, its summer/autumn selection of seafood has been fresh and delicious, prepared with Cajun-inspired ingredients from the kitchen. Its seafood tables have been a particular hit with the locals.
Founded by four childhood friends who grew up in the area, all with ties to the music industry, it is a business that’s been destined to celebrate creativity. Since its opening in December, it has hosted twilight markets, live art and exhibitions, plus pop up shops and have events planned for every month of the year. “It’s our way of celebrating all the talent in the region,” says part-owner Justin Hyland.
A breath of fresh air to those craving culture, “we really just put together a venue that we would want to come to if we ventured into Terrigal,” says part-owner Stephen Sewell. “Somewhere that you can walk into in your sandals or thongs. A space that has the music turned up so you can actually hear the tunes. A chef that cooks on the barbecue, not just hides away in the kitchen. A space that is run by musicians and artists that can connect with the audience. A spot that you can sip on your favourite drop and watch the waves roll in. A restaurant you can spend more time hanging out at than eating.”
Mission accomplished. With attention to detail stemming from the palm cushions to the Caribbean dancers on the wall to the music - always reggae, soul, or funk, with live artists and DJ nights - that makes you feel like you’re not on the Central Coast anymore. Except you are. Which makes it all the better.
Having opened just this year, MexiCoast Cantina is a real treat on the foodie senses. Take it from the Californian who has been dreaming about decent burritos since 2005, this place is authentic and damn good at that. While I am yet to find a refried bean burrito on any Mexican menu in Australia (seriously, why?), the flavours here are as close to south of the border as it gets. A $17 chicken burrito includes all the very best - and necessary - elements (sour cream, guacamole, salsa), plenty of black beans and cheese, and a serving size that will make your stomach hurt, but in the very best way. The cocktail list is pretty fun, too.
Those on the hunt for a fresh and healthy poke bowl need look no further than this sweet cafe on the north end of Terrigal, which also has some mighty fine coffee and nutella doughnuts. Its fresh white walls and pretty beach view make it an ideal place to sit with your laptop, lunch and caffeine. Free wifi too.
Whether you’re driving in or out of Terrigal, The Haven is the ultimate viewing destination to make you appreciate the beauty of the Central Coast. Watch the waves hit the rocks, climb up the lookout to check out the endless horizon, or play ball with your dog at the very pup friendly park. You can also begin the 5 Lands Coastal Walk, which will take you all the way to Macmasters Beach if you’re up for it.
George’s Fruit Barn
Driving out of Terrigal and into Avoca is this marvellous family run business that has way better tomatoes than Coles. It’s a must stop to stock up on essentials if you’re staying down for the weekend, or even if you’re not. Think - organic meats, tonnes of fresh fruit and veg, lovely little brands like Mother’s Cookies and loads of packaged treats. It even sells plants and flowers.
If this princess had a ball, she’d be shopping at this stunning space, with its gorgeous floral mural by local artist Sahra Bull and lush Moroccan vibes (hand selected cushions, rugs and prints make this the ultimate interior collector’s paradise). If you have some cash and you want some beautiful things, this is the place to get them. It’s Bohemian living at its finest and will make you want to be as pretty as everything you see is. So take that as a warning if you need to.