As a Queenslander it usually pains me to admit New South Wales has something better than its northern rivals.
That’s a while away when it comes to rugby league. However, it gives me unbridled pleasure to say New South Wales has turned this maroon-blooded Queenslander with its stunning Central Coast.
Yes that’s right. Pleasure. Because when it comes to the Central Coast, in the words of many a carnie: everyone’s a winner.
This is particularly so for families with young and seasoned adventurers. The Central Coast is a playground that heightens adrenalin, with numerous opportunities to discard your comfort zone.
The Ultimate Outdoor Explorer
Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures
Glenworth Valley is that uncle who always takes you camping and can fillet a fish with a sharpened stick. These guys and gals know their great outdoors and how to source the most fun possible from it, whether that involves kayaks, quad bikes or horses.
Each experience takes between 1.5 and three hours, and multiple activities can be combined for the definitive outdoor adventure.
The quad bikes offer some of the most fun, with only a little on-site training required. Once prepped, you power out onto Glenworth's open trails, which have plenty of opportunities to stick the pedal down, hit pot holes and careen through puddles.
However, there are also moments best spent cruising along and admiring the scenery. And there is plenty to goggle.
Kayaking takes a different track, trading the 125cc engine for your upper body. You can go alone or tandem, gliding or racing down Popran Creek to Mangrove Creek or the open Hawkesbury River.
Glenworth offers guided and free-range horse riding along multiple trails. The former is better for inexperienced riders and still delivers a feeling of freedom in the wilderness, letting you take it all in like a true cowboy or Saddle Club student.
If you prefer your adrenalin boiling not simmering, you can brave the heights with one of two abseiling courses. The first is for beginners with introductory areas, while the second includes overhang descents, a sandstone cave and an open-air descent beside a waterfall.
Little soldiers can enjoy gun fights in the bush with open and expansive games of laser skirmish around the property. This combat simulator uses guns with safe infrared beams, and pits your team against another in unique and creatively designed battle fields.
Glenworth has recently become the sole Australian provider of the Bear Grylls Survival Academy. This half-day or overnight survival course teaches you how to live in the wild with lessons in navigation, food finding and trap making. There's even a specific outing for families.
A Test Of Balance
ESS Board Store runs regular stand-up paddleboarding lessons, along with general hire, on Terrigal Lagoon close to the centre of town.
The lagoon is the perfect learning area, letting beginners enjoy a casual paddle without having to worry about the waves and crowds at the beach.
Lessons are invaluable for first-timers. You're shown the basics and given challenges to better improve your balance and comfort on the board. These fun trials include standing on one foot, racing using proper technique and paddling the board backwards.
The clinics and hire truck are open weekends and school and public holidays with the option to book mid-week sessions.
Open-water clinics are also available at Terrigal Beach for those who'd like to advance to the next level of SUP.
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The ability to fly is arguably to most wished-for superpower in the world. It was a thing of fantasy until some creative thinkers lost their grip on reality and brought us water jetpacks.
One of the most outrageous adrenalin activities you can experience without leaving Earth, the water jetpack in the Central Coast shoots you up into the sky over 10 metres high. You control the direction with subtle movements of your arms, allowing you to cruise around the private lagoon.
Apparently jets can be added to anything these days. How else can we explain the jetboard? This wakeboard-like device puts the jets under your feet, granting more freedom and the ability to do tricks such as 360-degree spins and back flips.
The jetpack and jetboard have size restrictions and are easily the hardest activity on this list. It's just you and the instructor out there, who does a good job of keeping you calm and getting you used to the alien feeling of flying.
However, he/she can only hold your hand so much. Ultimately it's the rider's job to master the technique, silence their fears and embrace that feeling of flying.
TreeTop Adventure Park
Those afraid of heights needn't sign up. The TreeTop Adventure Park, just a short drive from Wyong, is all about leaving the ground far behind.
Centred firmly in eco-tourism, TreeTop has used the surrounding Ourimbah State Forest to set up four tough high-ropes courses (three for juniors) that incorporate 120 obstacles including 21 flying foxes. Your nerves, flexibility and balance will all be tested.
Suitable for children aged three years and older, the park also includes a supervised low-ropes course for tiny adventurers.
If you don't feel thoroughly challenged, you can turn up the difficulty and turn off the lights by attempting the Extreme Challenge. It's just you, a headlamp and the four courses at night.
TreeTop also recently opened up two dedicated flying foxes separate to the high ropes. These send you flying through the trees with sudden drops, tight spirals and near misses all part of the ride back to earth.