Eleanor Pendleton’s Guide To The NSW Central Coast

Despite living in Sydney for more than a decade, and travelling the world as a beauty editor, Eleanor Pendleton is a true Central Coast local at heart – who’s recently found her way back to her roots.

The Gritty Pretty editor-in-chief and her husband Mathew both grew up in the region, and decided to move back about a year ago, to ensure their son, Banjo, could experience the same quiet and beachy lifestyle they loved as kids.

Being ‘born and bred’ on the Central Coast and now living in Terrigal, it’s safe to say Eleanor knows her way around the area. From her favourite cafes, places to stay and things to do, here’s her guide to the best that the region has to offer!

Christina Karras
Supported By Love Central Coast

Kim’s Beachside Retreat in Toowoon Bay is one of Eleanor’s favourite Central Coast getaway spots. Photo – Bianchi Photography.

Christina Karras
20th of May 2022

Gritty Pretty founder, editor-in-chief and beauty influencer Eleanor Pendleton grew up amongst the magic of the Central Coast, New South Wales – just 1.5 hour’s drive from the hustle and bustle of Sydney. She lived in St Hubert’s Island (where her parents ran the local newsagents!) until she moved out of home to attend university in Sydney, living in Bondi Beach.

Eleanor’s husband, Mathew, also a grew up nearby in Terrigal, which is where the couple decided to call home when they moved back to the Central Coast about a year ago after their son learnt to walk. Since then, the young family has painstakingly restored a 100-year-old cottage, transforming it to fit their contemporary, coastal lifestyle, while retaining its period charm.

‘The beach lifestyle was very much a major part of my childhood. Now, it’s a huge part of our family life,’ Eleanor says.

‘We love the people here – they are so friendly. It’s a lot busier than it was when I was growing up, which I love, but it still has that community feeling and soul to it.’

The family spends every opportunity they can at the beach – frequenting the ‘gorgeous’ rock pools in Killcare, or visiting local farms in the area and exploring the more than 560km of land and coastline that make up the serene Central Coast.

Photos don’t do the pristine stretch of protected national park coastline justice, and it’s only made better by the relaxed vibe that radiates across the region, from renowned surfing haunts like Terrigal and Avoca and the friendly faces of locals.

To help inspire your next roadtrip or long weekend away, Eleanor’s compiled a list of hot spots and must-see places in the Central Coast. And you know they have a local’s tick of approval!

Eleanor and Mathew outside Kim’s Beachside Retreat. Photo – Bianchi Photography.

Kim’s Beachside Retreat. Photo – Bianchi Photography.


Kim’s Beachside Retreat

For a visit to the Central Coast, or even as locals looking for a romantic night away, Eleanor says you can’t go past Kim’s Beachside Retreat in Toowoon Bay. The adults-only luxury escape is made up of 34 suites and villas, which are wrapped within the bamboo rainforest. ‘It’s in a beautiful spot right on Toowoon Beach,’ Eleanor says. Guests are treated to the luxury of stepping out from a private villa, right out onto the beach, perfect for a morning swim, or just to take some time out from the rush of city living and listen to the waves.

Kim’s also has a restaurant that’s ‘great for a long lunch, especially if you love seafood,’ according to Eleanor. Plus, make the most of the cocktail bar, or book yourself a massage or facial at the retreat too!

Eleanor also recommends: Bells at Killcare, Pretty Beach House.

Grace Springs Farm! Photo – Bianchi Photography.

The farm opens their gates to the the public for tours, that give people an insight into life on a working farm. Photo – Bianchi Photography.

Eleanor cuddling a baby chick! Photo – Bianchi Photography.


Grace Springs Farm

While the Central Coast is rightfully known for its beautiful beaches, Eleanor says there’s also a rich hinterland hidden away, complete with organic farms to explore.

‘Recently I took Banjo on a ‘Morning Chores’ tour on Grace Springs Farm, and the farmer – Virginia – is incredible with kids,’ she notes. ‘It’s very hands on and a wonderful experience for anyone who wants to see a different part of the Central Coast around the Mangrove Mountain area.’

Grace Springs is a working farm on the Central Coast Plateau that runs tours to help connect people with where their food is coming from, giving visitors a taste of what life is like on a small farm. It’s perfect for kids and adults alike who want to get up close and personal with baby chicks, sheep or collect their own eggs for a day!

Have some fun and make some ceramics at Centred Ceramics. Photo – Dawn & Folk.

You’ll be able to create a keepsake to remember your holiday by! Photo – Dawn & Folk.

The light-filled studio. Photo – Dawn & Folk.

Centered Ceramics

Want to make your own clay creations or learn hand building techniques? Based in Umina, Centered Ceramics is the best place to experience the joyful mess of pottery! Amid soaking up the Central Coast’s magical scenery and beautiful beaches, you can book yourself a workshop at their local studio.

The light-filled space also doubles as a café and a shop, so you can buy a hand-made keepsake or enjoy a drink while you make a bowl, mug, or vase yourself at their Friday Night Wine and Clay events.

A peek inside the creative concept store and cafe, Studio Lane.Photo – Bianchi Photography.


Studio Lane

Having lived in the foodie central of Bondi for about six years prior to moving back home, Eleanor says the Central Coast doesn’t disappoint when it comes to finding a place to eat. One of her top recommendations is Studio Lane, hidden away in the industrial area of Erina.

The multi-concept creative space has a specialty coffee bar, serving Marvel Street coffee straight from Byron Bay. ‘They do beautiful coffee and it’s just a gorgeous space where you can sit and admire the art,’ Eleanor says.

Eleanor also recommends: ‘I would dine at Yellowtail, in Terrigal every single week if I could. They have a seasonal menu but one of the most memorable dishes for me is the amazing baked oysters. I love seafood, and it’s always so fresh.’

La Boheme is Eleanor’s favourite store in the region. Photo – Bianchi Photography.

Browse homewares and fashion! Photo – Bianchi Photography.


La Boheme

If you’re always looking for a bit of retail therapy while away, La Boheme brings together beloved local brands and homewares under one roof! ‘It’s just down the road from me, so that can be dangerous!’ Eleanor says of her favourite boutique. ‘They have beautiful homewares and brands such as Arcaa Movement.’

Stephanie Davies owns the luxe lifestyle boutique that fills the fashion and lifestyle-sized gap she noticed was missing from the Central Coast. Now the ‘bohemian hub’ offers an incredible mix of local brands that fit in perfectly amid the region’s relaxed, coastal setting.

Eleanor also recommends: ‘Bohemian Traders at Erina Heights is another wonderful local brand that I love to support. And Aryele, just under the Crowne Plaza Terrigal, has some really simple resort wear.’

A dreamy look at the Terrigal boardwalk. Photo – Dawn & Folk.

Spot plenty of wildlife at the beach! Photo – Dawn & Folk.

It’s the perfect escape for some much needed grounding. Photo – Dawn & Folk.

Pristine beaches and blue water as far as they eye can see! Photo – Dawn & Folk.


Terrigal Coastal Walk

When you visit a new place, the best way to explore the area is to make like the locals do. And for the central coast, that means getting outside and soaking up the magic natural surrounds. Eleanor says heading into Terrigal village to walk the new coastal boardwalk is the first place she’d take a visitor to get a true feel for the area.

‘We love to spend our weekends outdoors – and that is the Central Coast way of life! We’d start at The Haven and finish off with a drink at Swells, which is an elevated spot that looks straight out over the beach,’ she explains.

Eleanor also recommends: Go for a swim at one of the beautiful local beaches like North Avoca, or if it’s a bit chilly do a bushwalk like the Bouddi Coastal Walk that starts at Putty Beach.

For more Central Coast inspiration, visit

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