Coastal holidays of your dreams: Ettalong Beach
Just an hour away from Sydney by train, 45 minutes by car and a constant 18,000 kilometres from fashion is the seaside sprawl of Ettalong Beach.
If you alight from nearby Woy Woy station, on a lucky day you can be welcomed upon arrival by the traditional overheard greeting phrase “give us back me smokes, ya sl_t”.
Then just pop yourself onto Blackwall Road, trot past the drive-through KFC, continue past the picturesque smash repair and bait shops, and you’re just about there.
Ettalong Beach has many claims to fame, but one of the first things you may notice is the large number of people getting around on bicycles.
“What a health-conscious, outdoorsy kind of a place,” you might think. Look closer, however, and you’ll realise that cycling is a necessary activity in this town until one’s driver’s licence is no longer suspended. Don’t be too quick to judge, though. Steering a bicycle with a lit cigarette in one hand and a longy of Carlton Draught in the other is a pretty good skill.
Ettalong Beach proudly boasts the largest undercover market on the Central Coast. That’s right. Out of ALL the undercover markets on the Central Coast, it has the biggest. And let me tell you, there is no finer (or larger) undercover market on the Central Coast if you’re shopping for crocheted baby clothing, bric-a-brac or marionettes .
Rice crackers are also freely available, as long as you’re not fussy about chewiness. Of course, if you’re just shopping for normal groceries, there are six supermarkets in the area which are open until quite late.
Certainly late enough to see other shoppers browsing the aisles in their dressing gowns and slippers. The queues at the checkout aren’t too bad – you’ll find those at Centrelink.
Through the decades, folk have fondly nicknamed Ettalong Beach and its residents, from “stumpy-legged swamp-dwellers” (as my aunt endearingly referred to them forty-odd years ago) to the more contemporary “Blacktown By The Sea,” by people who may or may not have actually visited either Blacktown or Ettalong Beach.
I ought also to propose “Flathead Breezes” due to the delicious fishy odour that envelops the town when the wind is right, or possibly “Revving Manors”, to celebrate the morning reveille of the neighbours warming up the ute.
Accommodation options at Ettalong Beach are varied, provided that your definition of “varied” isn’t. Your best bet is the gigantic Mantra resort complex, perched hulkingly on the water in order to be best visible from space, in a colour I refer to as “Democratic Cream”, due to the fact that it is equally offensive to everyone.
If it’s food you’re after, a quick glance at many of this area’s local residents indicates that it’s in plentiful supply. Maybe try something sweet from the cake shop, but best to avoid the meringues in the front window unless you have a particular love of antiques. What’s that? You’d like an apricot Danish? Go back to the city, you Euro-poofter.
Of course, as the word “beach” is there on the label, you should know about the beach. The sand can be found at more or less regular intervals between the sticks, chip packets, sticks and English people. If you’d like to see clean sand, waves and normal-sized happy people, just walk eastward towards the ferry wharf. Then get on a ferry, wait half an hour and get off at Palm Beach. If you enjoy disappointment, take the return trip.
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