Volkswagen Magazine


Cruising for the coast. 

A weekend away with the new Touareg proves that family fun, creative inspiration and time for contemplation aren’t mutually exclusive. 

Text Jade Warne 
Photos Jackielyn Powell 

Few journeys are more memorable than a road trip north. In your twenties it’s a rite-of-passage, an impulsive adventure that requires little more than a bikini, best friend and a set of wheels. Fast forward to love, marriage, and a pair of little ones (Miss 6 and Miss 8 months) riding in the carriage, and all of a sudden the same prospect seems inconceivable. Or, in our nifty city hatchback, inconvenient to say the least. 

So when presented with the opportunity to take our family of four away on a road trip with Volkswagen’s top-of-the-line SUV, I didn’t hesitate. We could all use a break.

And the break starts early. As opposed to the usual game of packing Tetris I’m used to, the vast interior and 697L boot had room for everything – think two car seats in the back (a capsule and a booster), luggage for four (including bottles, nappies and assorted bub paraphernalia), a bucket of swimmers and wetsuits, a million cameras and computers, a neon pink ukulele, plus two surfboards on the roof.

The surprising swiftness of the ‘chuck it all in’ approach means we have ample time to make a coffee, get some kiddie snacks together and still get on the road with a new FPB (Family Personal Best) of 10am.

Our destination? I needed somewhere that ticked the three Cs: close (less than two hours drive), cheerful (that means sunshine, beach, lots of open space) and comfortable (I’m pretty sure the teething tot isn’t up for pitching her own tent). 

Time to hit the road

The Pacific Motorway north from Sydney is great – but big roads often mean big trucks and big bullies. But thanks to clever technology like lane assist (a subtle light signal on the side mirror advises if there’s a car in your blind spot), comprehensive safety features (4MOTION permanent all-wheel drive and nine airbags) and the Touareg’s rock-solid build quality, I felt safe. More importantly, I felt the kids were safe.

It helps that the Touareg is a good-looking vehicle, without being in any way ostentatious. But the vehicle’s beauty is more than skin deep – underneath lurks an SUV that won’t shirk an off-road challenge. It’s frugal too, thanks to the car’s suite of BlueMotion Technologies, which help maximise the return on a full tank of fuel on the run out of Sydney. 

Within an hour we were pulling off the highway and into the lush greenery and still waterways of Avoca. The change in vibe was palpable as the kids played on the grass and kept their eyes peeled for wandering bush turkeys while hubbie considered his afternoon surf trip (“it’s the perfect car to explore hidden beach breaks”) and I considered lunch.

I’d heard about Long Jetty, a sleepy lakeside suburb undergoing a hipster revival complete with organic chow and spectacular coffee. Getting the kids refuelled is a priority, and within minutes the satellite navigation had us back on the road en route to a (delicious) destination.  

What’s in a name? 

Located on a sliver of land between Gosford and The Entrance, Long Jetty derives its name from the three lengthy wooden walkways that stretch from the shore deep into Tuggerah Lake. The most famous jetty, aptly named Long Jetty, was originally built in 1915, hewn from the trunks of paperbark trees by William Henry Price. In 1927, around Easter time, massive storms washed away the original jetty and the council promptly put out a tender for the rebuild, which was won by a Clyde and Douglass McLachlan and George Aitkins. 

Food for the family

Newly opened eatery Common Ground is our first stop. Following a 12-month stint in Majorca, Spain, hospitality adventurers Kath and Nick Austen were inspired to recreate the Mediterranean food and dining style in their own ’hood.

“Spanish and Greek food is so tasty but so simple,” Kath says. “You can go all over, from wealthy areas to the ghetto, and sit beside the pavement and have a nice meal, glass of wine, and drama-free dinner with the kids.”  

At Common Ground the menu changes with the seasons, but the ethos remains the same: simple, slow-cooked cuts of meat paired with the freshest local veggies and scrumptious chunks of cheese.

After lunch it’s clear the little ones (and Dad) have restless legs, so we split up. Just 10 minutes down the road is Toowoon Bay – a protected beach that makes for stress-free splashing for the kiddies – while I get a free pass to explore the burgeoning boutiques along the Central Coast Highway. 

Taste of the green tangerine

Spotting a bold, tattoo-inspired artwork across the road announcing Green Tangerine, I sidle up and take shelter from the midday sun. Owner of the bakery-slash-cafe Kath Devaney says the palm-and-petal design was painted by local artist Dan Coy and represents everything she loves about the lakeside suburb.

“Long Jetty has this gritty, genuine soul,” she explains. “Cheap rent means people can open unique spaces and do really cool things here,” she adds, describing her journey from Sydney-based Channel V exec to cafe owner. “I love being part of this family; the organic, community-based change.” 

The next morning, I think of Kath’s words again. I’m driving just outside Terrigal at 5:45am, heading for a sunrise yoga and surf session, and the seaside terrain slides past me blanketed in darkness. There are no kids in the backseat, no husband beside me; nothing but me and the V8 engine purring softly past the Norfolk pines.

When I arrive at the beach, the pre-dawn light is alchemical: shell-pink sunlight diffused by a streak of mercury-coloured cloud on the horizon. I scroll through my phone and the car’s Bluetooth connectivity seamlessly picks up my homemade playlists, pouring lush sounds from a 12-speaker sound system. Yes, I love my family more than anything, but sometimes a mum needs a morning to herself.

After a surf, I drive back to Terrigal Beach to meet the tribe. Sunshine is streaming through the sea mist, grandpas are out on their paddleboards and Nippers is in full swing.

I realise there’s just one thing better than driving away and escaping it all: driving back with the ones you love. I toss my husband the Touareg’s keyless fob. “Let’s go explore some beach breaks.” 

The numbers that matter. 

Model: Touareg V8 TDI R-Line

Engine: 4.2-litre TDI with BlueMotion Technology

Transmission: 8-speed automatic transmission

Max. power: 250kW

Max. torque: 800Nm