So close to Sydney, NSW’s Central Coast has been a family holiday destination in its own right for decades, but increasingly there are cultured options popping up for the ‘grown-ups’ (Steve Madgwick).

1. Small bar, beautiful bar

The Central Coast’s small bar options have blossomed lately, thanks to the freeing up of the NSW licencing laws. ReviveR Bar is a little gem in the heart of Gosford while Sydney’s Pocket Bar has just unveiled its Terrigal equivalent. For ‘Day of the Dead’ quirky, try Mexican restaurant/bar Rojo Rocket in Avoca (and take advantage of its courtesy hearse). For seriously good craft beer venue, which attracts a slightly older crowd, the Six String Brewing Co in Erina is worth an afternoon’s exploration.

2. Bamboo Buddha Bali style

A little piece of Bali hidden in the ’burbs of the Central Coast, this tranquil oasis quadruples as a bamboo nursery, vegetarian café, wellness centre and art gallery in one. We’re assured even meat-eaters will enjoy the menu at Bamboo Buddha, while weary drivers can get a hit of organic coffee in the exotic tea gardens.

3. Ken shows us the light

Panorama photographic legend Ken Duncan’s new exhibition ‘World of Light’ features images from around the world but, of course, iconic local images star too, such one of Reggie’s Hut, Burra, SA (like the one on the cover of Midnight Oil’s Diesel and Dust). The exhibition runs throughout the holidays at his Erina Heights gallery, worth a visit for the café and quaint grounds alone.

4. Distilling the unlikely

All manner of Australian herbs and fruits are distilled at Distillery Botanica in Erina, producing such amazing concoctions as sticky date liqueur. The traditional pot distillery recently won gold and silver at The International Wine & Spirit Competition for its lemon myrtle liqueur and absinthe reverie. Firescreek wines in Holgate is another option in the area for thinking outside the grape, with its collection of fruit-flower and herb wines.

5. Taste of something different

No mass-produced sugar hit at Luka Chocolates in Wyong. Pay a visit to this local company which purveys artisan chocolates, following the ‘couvertures origin’ technique, meaning the beans are sourced from a single region, not blended with other regions like the way high production chocolate is commonly produced.

For some intensely local flavours there is Taste of the Bush in Berkeley Vale, with oils, vinegars, dukkahs, herbs, and fruits, sourced from indigenous ingredients around Australia.