My Coast – Catherine Hill Bay

The A-Z of the Central Coast, NSW, Australia

Welcome to the third installment of my fortnightly photo blog exploring my local area. This week’s destination is Catherine Hill Bay

C-Catherine Hill Bay

Catherine Hill Bay is a small coastal village located on the northernmost tip of the Central Coast. The village is the oldest continuous settlement in the city of Lake Macquarie. It is located about 30 mins drive south of Newcastle. The land was first settled back in 1865 as a base for coal mining, and the name Catherine Hill Bay was adopted after a ship of the same name ran aground there back in 1867.

As you drive down into Catherine Hill Bay it feels like you are taking a trip back in time. There are a few newer residential homes, but the bulk of the village is made up of older style mining cottages and those houses yet to be redeveloped. At the hub of the village, like in a lot of old Australian places, is the Catho Pub, but more about this later in the post.

Looking south down the beach

The village currently has a population of around 430 (back in 2011), but this is set to drastically change in the future. On the top of the hill overlooking the bay, there is a massive 556 residential home development underway . In my opinion, this is not a good thing as I feel the village will lose some of its old world charm and identity with the influx of both permanent residents and holiday home owners.

We arrived on a sunny Saturday afternoon and parked up so we could check out the beach. The kids were keen to get out and start exploring. Tash and Ruby went first and as I was getting Ryan out of the car I heard Tash shouting “horses, come quickly”.
Ryan and I came running up to see what was going on and were greeted with the sight of a team of horses exercising with their trainers down by the ocean.

Horses enjoying the ocean spray

This was a fantastic start to our mini adventure and had the kids interest straight away. I asked the trainers if they minded me taking photos. They were okay with this so I snapped away, and made the most of this most unexpected photo opportunity. It was really special to see the horses enjoying themselves rolling around in the sand having the time of their lives and definitely not something that we see every day on our local beaches!

After the horses and trainers took their leave and disappeared over the hill we indulged in our favourite beach pastime of making sandcastles. This kept the kids amused for a while before we decided it was time to explore some more.

The trolls were loving the autumn sunshine

It was getting near sunset so it was decided that I could go off on a photo walk down to the coal loader. In the meantime, they proceeded to tire themselves out some more running up and down the sand dunes, before it was time for dinner.

Sand dunes entertainment

The coal loader is the dominant feature at the south end of the beach. This was used back in the village’s mining days to load up the waiting ships. It is a very striking feature and is photographic gold. There are so many different angles to take shots of it from.

You can walk down to it from the car park on top of the hill, but there is no access to it. I chose to walk down to the southern end of the beach and go right underneath it.

On my way, I passed a shore diver, a lady meditating and another photographer doing a bikini shoot with a model. I have since discovered that the south end of the beach down by the surf club is very popular with divers and snorkellers alike, as the headland at this end of the beach has dozens of swim-throughs and overhangs. For keener divers, there is the opportunity to dive and inspect the remains of the original Wallarah Collier.

Coal Loader-1
The iconic Coal Loader

The sky was completely clear so I didn’t get the spectacular sunset I was after, but it still a had a pleasing purple tinge to it. I explored around and underneath the coal loader and was getting so immersed in my photography, that I soon found myself getting a wave washing over my ankles and filling up my shoes with sand. Luckily the tripod and camera weren’t knocked over by this. Rule number one, never turn your back on the ocean!

I walked back to the car with squelching feet and the rest of the family were waiting eagerly so we could go for dinner. I know when I have taken too long with my photo walks as Tash was waiting outside the car with that “hurry up” look on her face.

Looking north up the beach at sunset

We took a short drive up the hill to the Catho Pub. We came here on a recommendation from my sister in law. This is definitely my type of pub. It is has a real old school feel to it, which is very in keeping with the rest of the village. Out the front of the pub, the locals were drinking. it was only 6pm so the main bar was still quiet ahead of the Saturday night entertainment. We took a walk through to the back and sat down in the bistro.

I had the Salt and Pepper Squid, my favourite pub meal, which was outstanding. The kids Calamari rings meal and Tash’s adult version of the same were also really good. I finished it off with a Rhubarb Crumble, ice cream, and cream. I have a massive weakness for dessert and this did the job very nicely!

The delicious Salt and Pepper Squid

After a big feed and all the earlier running around on the beach, the afternoon had taken its toll on the kids and they were well and truly ready for the 40-minute drive home and their awaiting beds. We had a lot of fun in our few hours in Catherine Hill Bay and will definitely return to explore the headlands and mini caves, as well as coming back for more of that great pub food!

Thank you very much for reading. If you would like to be notified of my next post in 2 weeks time, where the destination will be Davistown, please click the link on the right.


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