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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 September, 2003, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
City guide: Gosford
Today, Gosford is virtually an extension of Sydney, just 80km north of Australia's biggest city via the Newcastle Freeway and the Pacific Highway.

Gosford's Central Coast stadium
Population: 155,000
Location: South-east coast, 85km north of Sydney
Climate: Mediterranean - hot in summer and generally mild but rainy in winter
Geography: Located at northern end of Brisbane Water, 80km north of Sydney
Interesting fact: Aborigines took to Governor Phillip due to his missing front tooth

In its own right, however, it does little to inspire, described in many guide books as simply an "undistinguished settlement".

Despite that, in various guises its history is almost as long as Sydney's.

Just five weeks after arriving in what became Sydney, Governor Phillip travelled further up to the mouth of Brisbane Water where he was met by friendly indigenous people.

The Guringgai aborigines then occupied the land and took to Phillip immediately on account of a missing front tooth.

The removal of a tooth had been an initiation rite among the original aborigine settlers.

White settlers were lured to the area in the early 19th century by the prospect of making the most of the area's massive wood supplies.

By 1829, there were still only 100 people living there - half were convicts - compared to a population of 155,000 today.

The ever-expanding population has been boosted massively in recent years by commuters, young families and retired people moving away from the bustle of Sydney.

Officially named the Township at Point Frederick, it was crossed out in 1836 and replaced with Gosford, in honour of the Earl of Gosford.

Despite that, Gosford is said to be an indigenous word meaning deep water.

Tourism has steadily increased, climaxing in the town becoming a city in 1980.

A series of eco tours and visits to a host of nature reserves are among Gosford's main outdoor attractions today.

Eric the Croc at the Australian Reptile Park and Wildlife Sanctuary draws in the crowds as does the Old Courthouse, one of the few traditional buildings still standing.

Sport and all manner of recreation activities remain popular with visitors, particularly those heading south from Newcastle or north from Sydney.

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