Welcome to the town that boasts the icon of the Central Coast, the Norah Head Lighthouse…
… one of the best lighthouses to visit near Sydney.
Of course, unless you're a Lighthouse Chaser, you won’t be visiting Norah Head just to see a lighthouse. So what else is there to do?
On the coast is this…
Soldiers Beach is one of the best beaches on the Central Coast. Best as the sand is whiter, the water is rated very clean and it’s… well… picturesque. You feel like you're further up the Coast when you're there.
On the other side of the headland is this…
Norah Head Rockpool is popular with families. The rock pool is sheltered and lovely.
Not bad so far? Let’s continue…
Located in the village is Norah Head Holiday Park...
... one of the cheapest holiday accommodations on this part of the coast.
And right next to Norah Head Lighthouse are The Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottages…
... one of the most unique accommodations in the region.
Norah Head is unique in many ways.
The Ark Cafe is positioned in the heart of Norah Head. That’s the first place you bump into when driving in the village. Everybody goes there: cyclists after their morning rides, holidaymakers and all the locals.
It’s obvious the Ark Cafe is very popular. It’s sometimes so packed people must line outside and wait for a table. It’s worth it though. Takeaway orders jump the queue. Don’t be in a rush and enjoy the great background music, the decoration – the art surfboards on the walls and red chandeliers – and the bean bags in the garden.
The Ark Cafe is beautifully laid-back.
After your meal take the kids to the adjacent playground.
Then make your way to Norah Head Lighthouse by walking along the Nature Walk or along the beach. You can also drive up to the carpark but I think it’s much nicer to walk because of the beautiful scenery.
Let’s walk along the beach to the lighthouse, and walk back to Ark Cafe through the Nature Walk. Allow 20 minutes to walk each way plus extra time to visit and swim at the beach...
Walk down the pathway to Norah Head Rockpool. A well-formed ring of rocks shape the rock pool. That’s where families with young children gather. There are toilets next to the rock pool.
Beside the rock pool is Cabbage Tree Harbour – a beautiful bay when the sun is out and the water calm. Locals have their morning swim in there. There’s also a boat ramp.
Walk along Lighthouse Beach…
The beach wraps around the headland before it arrives to a large rock platform at the bottom of Norah Head Lighthouse. You’ll see fishermen and families wandering around. Children will have a great time exploring around the rock platform.
A volcanic intrusion, a channel with darker rocks, runs from one side of the rock platform to the other. The lava may have come from Mt Warrowolong, an ancient volcano in the Watagans.
The view of the lighthouse perched on top of the headland is beautiful...
Make your way to the lighthouse and book a tour if you can. The tour is interesting whether you're into lighthouses or not.
Tours cost only $6 and take 30 minutes. Volunteers walk you up the lighthouse daily between 10.00 am and 1.30 pm. Just turn up. Or you can also book online on the Norah Head Lighthouse website.
The volunteers are very friendly. They tell compelling facts and bring you back in time while you walk up the 96 stairs to the top of the 27.5 metre lighthouse.
A lighthouse was badly needed here because many shipwrecks occurred off this section of the coast. Edward Hammond is credited for instigating the construction in 1903. It was the same man who set off the first Australian gold rush in 1851.
Look on the wall for the old Lighthouse Keeper job offer: must be a man, must be short and must be married... Hmm... interesting.
Another interesting fact: in case of an emergency the Lighthouse Keeper was required to abseil down the lighthouse by a rope hanging down the wall. As Michael my tour guide pointed out: “Health & safety standards were different back then!”
You’ll find out all about these stories and the history of the lighthouse while touring.
The walk up is worth it… the view is stunning. You can see Sydney’s skyscrapers more than 70 km away when the weather is clear.
These cottages down below are the Lighthouse Keeper’s accommodations…
Once you're back down continue walking past the accommodation and read the information boards along the walking path. You’ll see a list of all the shipwrecks that occurred before the construction of the lighthouse.
Walk through the carpark and take the 800 m Nature Trail. It will bring you back to Ark Cafe. The signposts along the trail detail the vegetation. You’ll walk past lookouts and get glimpses of the ocean.
If the weather is hot you may want to head to the beach...
Soldiers Beach is located a 10-minute walk from the holiday park.
The beach is popular for surfing and swimming – lifeguards patrol between September and April.
There’s a food kiosk at the beach and you can sit upstairs in the clubhouse and have a cold beer in the afternoon. There’s also a cafe up the hill. The views there are beautiful… pull up a chair and enjoy...
Here are other things to do nearby if you're staying in a Norah Head accommodation for a few days…
Attend Pelican Feeding at The Entrance at 3.30 pm. Volunteers have been feeding pelicans for many years. The pelicans know when it’s time to eat and they start congregating before 3.00 pm. It’s worth watching the pelicans arriving one by one. Find out more about Pelican Feeding.
Cycle along Tuggerah Lake on the cycleway. The bike path starts from The Entrance and goes for 12 km. You can rent bikes at The Entrance. Find out more about Tuggerah Lake Cycleway.
Visit the hipster cafes and vintage shops at Long Jetty. You can visit while cycling on the bike path. Check out Long Jetty.
Walk in Wyrrabalong National Park. The Lillipilly and Red Gum loop walking tracks are in the northern section of the national park in Magenta. But the best walk is in the southern section: The Coast walking track. More about Wyrrabalong National Park.
If you're looking for something to do when it rains, play bowling at Bateau Bay Ten Pin Bowl: 470 The Entrance Rd. Then watch a movie at Majestic Cinema at The Entrance.
Would you like to experience living like a lighthouse keeper without the hard work? Here you can live with the elements of the weather like they used to. But in complete comfort.
These accommodations are one of the six lighthouse cottages you can rent out in New South Wales.
The Lighthouse Keeper’s cottages are located just beside the lighthouse. You can see the ocean from every window.
Stay in either two accommodations: the Head LightKeepers Quarters (it has a better view of the ocean and lighthouse) or Assistant Lightkeepers Quarters.
The base rate covers 6 persons; $20 per extra persons; maximum of 8 persons.
The heritage listed accommodations were revamped in 2014.
Norah Head Holiday Park is an old-school holiday park run by the Council. This accommodation offers simple cabins, caravan sites and campsites. No frills.
Cons: some people consider that walking 10 min to the beach is too long. Here’s an idea of distance from the holiday park to the main points of interest:
The distance may not be an issue for most people but it’s something to consider if you have small children or find it difficult to walk. Some people prefer to drive to the beach.
Pros: the pool and jumping pillow are a big hit with children. They can also scooter and cycle around the site. Plus the holiday park is dog-friendly if they're kept on the lead. However the local beaches don’t allow dogs. At least not officially. Locals walk their dog along Lighthouse Beach anyway.
For dinner, there's the Bowling Club close by.
Norah Head Holiday park is a popular accommodation during the holidays so book ahead.