This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Stylist's Guide To The NSW Central Coast

Travel

Today we catch up with fellow Aussie film industry alumnus, designer and stylist Xanthe Highfield.

Xanthe is the co-founder of interiors studio Stewart + Highfield, and has won an AFI award for her amazing work, which spans art direction and production design for a host of top local film productions and TV shows.

Here we call on her expertise of another (though related) kind; the Woy Woy-based creative gives us a tour of hot spots along the NSW Central Coast.

30th August, 2018

Photo – Jacs Powell, and Sarah-Kate from Chasing Brightness.

Xanthe Highfield
Thursday 30th August 2018

The Central Coast is a huge area that stretches between Sydney and Newcastle, the most well-known towns in the area include Killcare, Avoca and Terrigal.

My husband Sam Clayton and I moved to Woy Woy around five years ago. My background is as a production designer/art director for film and TV, and we met studying our Masters in Production Design at Australian Film Radio and Television School. Sam got over working in the industry and was inspired to move into his family’s business: Woy Woy Fishermen’s Wharf, which has been in the family for 40 years!

We had been living in Bondi and I had been working in Melbourne, so moving to Woy Woy was a total change of pace. Although, we moved into our apartment above the busy restaurant, so there was still a buzz to our life. After hours, when the restaurant closes, we are sitting on a really quiet stretch of water that seems to wash away the stresses. It’s pretty idyllic.

After a few years, we bought a home in Avoca, and I really connected with a wonderful community while we lived there. Although, we have now moved back to Woy Woy for a few years and are renting out our house before we renovate it. This area is a bit more of a hub now, but we’ve got a beautiful spot right on the water in the middle of town.

After I first moved up to the Central Coast, my friend Cate Stewart and I could see a need for some creativity to be injected into local hospitality businesses, so we started doing fit-outs for the new wave of local restaurants A few years on and our company Stewart + Highfield are working on some really exciting projects. We love being a part of the new energy in the area.

What I love most about living on The Central Coast is the really supportive creative community. It’s a more laid-back way of life, but it’s also commuting distance from Sydney, so I can continue to do art directing for TV commercials as well as run our interiors business.

I also love that you have spectacular beaches and national parks right on your doorstep, yet it still feels a little undiscovered. For example, the thrift stores are still genuinely cheap, and you can really find a bargain. I’m still finding hidden gems in towns after five years of living here!

Bouddi Coastal Walk. Photo – Jacs Powell.

The Mars-like landscape! Photo – Jacs Powell.

The walk starts at Putty Beach Road, Killcare Heights. Photo – Jacs Powell.

Adventure – Bouddi Coastal Walk

We regularly go on hikes as a big bunch of parents and toddlers.

There are so many spectacular walks around the area. A favourite is the Bouddi Coastal Walk, which is great for whale spotting, cliff-top stone foraging, birdwatching and admiring wildflowers. The Mars-like rock formations go down pretty well in terms of four-year-old boys’ imaginations too!

The full hike is eight-and-a-half kilometres one way, from Putty Beach to MacMasters Beach and this takes thee-and-a-half to four hours. The walk can also be split into three smaller sections if you are short on time.

Putty Beach Road, Killcare Heights NSW 2257

Woy Woy Fishermen’s Wharf has been in my husband’s family for 40 years! Photo – Jacs Powell.

Seafood is the specialty at Woy Woy Fishermen’s Wharf. Photo – Jacs Powell.

The traditional Aboriginal fish trap that we commissioned. Photo – Jacs Powell.

Looking out to the water. Photo – Jacs Powell.

We live above the restaurant and the views of the water are amazing. Photo – Jacs Powell.

Restaurant – Woy Woy Fishermen’s Wharf

We were living in Bondi and I was working on a TV show in Melbourne when Sam called me and asked if I wanted to move to Woy Woy… I think I’d visited once or twice and barely knew the place, but was totally up for the adventure. How could I not be with a name so cute?

The Woy Woy Fishermen’s Wharf had been in his family for generations and after visiting some great restaurants and cafes around Mornington Peninsula, Sam started to get ideas about what he could do to the place. He was dying to get out of the film industry and I was hanging to get out of Sydney, so we made the move.

We have been there for two stages of evolution now, the last renovation had to happen as the pier’s pylons needed replacing, which meant a total rebuild of the end of the pier supporting the restaurant. The goal was to retain the integrity of the old building but bring in the surrounding mangroves and capture that view even more. The décor is more pared-back than last time, which had a strong crab-shack vibe! We have focused on key pieces, such as commissioning a four-metre-long traditional Aboriginal fish trap to honour the focus of sustainable fishing that the wharf maintains.

It’s open for lunch and dinner in the warmer months. With the fresh fish market attached to the restaurant you know that you will always get fresh, great quality seafood. My personal fav is the Pippies In XO sauce. Even just the oysters with a glass of one of the amazing wines always makes me happy!

The Blvd, Woy Woy NSW 2256

Like Minds Avoca. Photo – Jacs Powell.

The ceiling sculpture of floating clouds is by local artist Jane Gillings.Photo – Jacs Powell.

The Surfer’s Breakfast. Photo – Jacs Powell.

Amazing coffee too! Photo – Jacs Powell.

This cafe has changed people’s lives! Photo – Jacs Powell.

Cafe – Like Minds Avoca

My experience of the Central Coast as a strong supportive community really began when we moved around the corner from Like Minds Avoca. It might sound dramatic, but this place has changed people’s lives. Mel and Jimmy are curators of community in the most generous way possible, so many life-long friendships have been born in this inviting space.

It’s open for breakfast and lunch, and the food is largely garden-to-plate, so always fresh and the coffee is the best around. Produce swaps happen once a month, plus there is zero food waste because all food and coffee waste is composted.

Sam will, without fail, always order The Surfer Breakfast (vegemite and avo with a poached egg). Mel makes all the relishes and pickles so everything is extra tasty. I’m just all about the smashed avo and egg with pickles!

Inside, the ceiling features a sculpture of floating clouds by local artist Jane Gillings, made using all of the cafe’s old milk bottles.

352 The Round Dr, Avoca Beach NSW 2251

Inside Natalie Walton’s Imprint House. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Imprint House is open Fridays or by appointment. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Shop – Imprint House & Dapper Darlings

Stylist and writer Natalie Walton’s Imprint House is one of my favourite retail spots in the region (TDF featured it alongside her home tour here). Her careful edit of homewares celebrate beauty and elevate function. Most of them were discovered during her time writing and researching for interior magazines, and producing her art and design blog. The concept store is open to the public on Friday, 10am to 2pm, or by appointment.

Address: 1282 Yarramalong Road, Wyong Creek, NSW, 2259

Another retail highlight is Long Jetty. This place is a great social study on a few creatives moving to an area with dirt cheap rent and turning it around! Dapper Darlings Vintage was really the first of a bunch of active shop owners who painted vibrant murals on the front of their stores that bring the street to life. This store is a vintage collector’s dream and also stocks wares by independent designers like Georgia Perry and Lenni the Label.

If heading to Long Jetty you must take a look at all the great stores such as Plain Janes, Loose Leaf, Tiny Folk Co and Shadow bang to name but a few.

298 The Entrance Rd, Long Jetty NSW 2261

Copacabana Beach House. Photo – Jacs Powell.

Inside the dreamy Airbnb accommodation. Photo – Jacs Powell.

This restored 1970s home is an impeccably-designed place to stay. Photo – Jacs Powell.

There are breath-taking views from every room! Photo – Jacs Powell.

Stay – Copacabana Beach House

Copacabana Beach House is a dreamy Airbnb accommodation perched on the cifftop at Copacabana. A bird’s eye view of the house shows that it is in the shape of a ‘T’, meaning there are amazing views all the way around.

Owner Danielle Eurell worked closely with a team of local builders to bring her vision to life and restore this 1970s home into an impeccably-designed place to stay.

With an open fireplace and ocean views, you could probably just ignore all my exploring tips and happily not leave here all weekend!!

Copacabana NSW 2251

View Comments

Similar Stories

Travel

NSW Southern Highlands with Sarah K

The designer and local resident shares her itinerary for a weekend in the NSW Southern Highlands, stopping off at Fitzroy Falls, Moss Vale a...
Sarah K

Travel

Avalon Beach And Surrounds With Virgine Batterson

The French-designer-turned-Sydneysider gives us a tour of her favourite family spots on the Northern Beaches.
Virgine Batterson

Travel

Austinmer And Thirroul With Dominique Brammah

The interior designer gives us tour of the stunning coastline and some of her favourite spots in the northern Illawarra region of New South
Dominique Brammah

This Week

News

Keep The Fire Burning At Hothaus Glassblowing Studio's Open Day Market!

Help TDF Collect artist Amanda Dziedzic celebrate her new studio space in Melbourne and pick up some unique pieces to raise funds for a furn...
Miriam McGarry
  16 hours ago

News

Get Framed, Limited-Edition Images By Leading Photographers Delivered To Your Door

Hanging beautiful art in your home has never been easier thanks to Format Editions.
Amelia Barnes

Architecture

Cuckoo Clock Meets Modern Edwardian Home!

Rara Architecture and Interior Design creates a new Edwardian-inspired, Footscray home.
Miriam McGarry

Art

Painting Birdsong With Nyangulya Katie Nalgood

The bright and brilliant exhibition ‘Jalmarra-jarti, All the birds have wings’ at Paul Johnstone Gallery, Darwin.
Miriam McGarry

Homes

Morocco Meets Mallorca... In Melbourne!

Interior architect Georgia Ezra shares her renovated Spanish Mission style family home in Caulfield.
Lucy Feagins
  24 hours ago

TDF Collect

TDF Collect Presents 'Colourscapes' By Amanda Dziedzic

A new exhibition of striking sculptural glass forms, inspired by the spectacular trophies created for our TDF Design Awards!

Fashion

The Social Studio Celebrates 10 Years With An Art Scarf Fundraiser

Melbourne’s beloved social enterprise launches an incredible Art Scarf auction fundraiser, alongside a star-studded gala.
Miriam McGarry

Shopping

Lygon Street Nursery's MASSIVE New Indoor Jungle!

Melbourne's newest horticulture, plant and landscaping store opens its doors.
Miriam McGarry
  Less than an hour ago

Architecture

A Tiny Barn Addition To A Coastal Family Home

See inside this creative extension of a NSW Central Coast family home by Fabric Architecture.
Amelia Barnes

Interiors

A Fashion Blogger’s Stylish Tamarama Apartment

Decus Interiors overhauls the Tamarama apartment of Carmen Hamilton, founder of Chronicles of Her.
Amelia Barnes

Architecture

A Serenely Minimal Toorak Family Home

Elegance meets practicality in the SLD Residence by Davidov Architects.
Amelia Barnes
  16 hours ago

News

Shop All Your Favourite Ceramicists This Weekend At The Melbourne Ceramics Market!

Our favourite ceramics event is happening again November 16-17. 
Amelia Barnes

Vegetable Garden

A Suburban Backyard Turned Thriving Permaculture Garden

Ben Shaw's permaculture garden is an edible paradise in the heart of suburbia.
Georgina Reid

Stays

A Former Pub Transformed Into Tasmania’s Newest Boutique Accommodation

Book your stay at Ship Inn Stanley – a beautiful reinvention of an 1849 former pub – now open on Tasmania’s north-west coast.
Amelia Barnes

Food

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's Eggplant Parmigiana

A crowd-pleasing silky, cheesy, vegetarian main dish. Best served shared!
Julia Busuttil-Nishimura

Similar Stories

Travel

NSW Southern Highlands with Sarah K

The designer and local resident shares her itinerary for a weekend in the NSW Southern Highlands, stopping off at Fitzroy Falls, Moss Vale a...
Sarah K

Travel

Avalon Beach And Surrounds With Virgine Batterson

The French-designer-turned-Sydneysider gives us a tour of her favourite family spots on the Northern Beaches.
Virgine Batterson

Travel

Austinmer And Thirroul With Dominique Brammah

The interior designer gives us tour of the stunning coastline and some of her favourite spots in the northern Illawarra region of New South
Dominique Brammah