Gosford is a city located on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia, about 76 km north of the Sydney central business district. The city is situated at the northern extremity of Brisbane Water, an extensive northern branch of the Hawkesbury River estuary and Broken Bay.
The city is the administrative centre of the Central Coast region, which is the third largest urban area in New South Wales after Sydney and Newcastle. Gosford has been designated as an important growth centre under the NSW Metropolitan Strategy. The suburb's population was 3,392 in the 2011 census.
Gosford once considered as an exurb of the Sydney metropolitan area, is increasingly seeing itself as the capital of the greater Central Coast region. Yet still a significant proportion of the population commutes for work or study. This can be attributed to a lower cost of living, relative lack of local employment and educational opportunities in the area, lifestyle factors and the development of strong transport links. These factors have caused the population of both Gosford and the wider Central Coast to grow rapidly in recent years.
In the 2011 Census, the most common countries of birth of people in Gosford were Australia 63.6%, England 4.4%, Mainland China 2.4%, India 1.9%, New Zealand 1.9% and South Korea 1.1%. The most common responses for religion were No Religion 24.3%, Catholic 21.6%, Anglican 18.0%, Buddhism 3.4% and Uniting Church 2.8%.
Until European settlement, the area around Gosford was inhabited by the Guringai peoples, who were principally coastal-dwellers and the Darkinjung people that inhabited the hinterland. Along with the other land around the Hawkesbury River estuary, the Brisbane Water district was explored during the early stages of the settlement of Sydney. In the early 19th century some pioneering European settlers began occupying the land, for timber-cutting (mainly ironbark and Australian red cedar), lime production and grazing.
Gosford itself was explored by Governor Phillip between 1788 and 1789. The area was difficult to access and settlement did not start before 1823. By the late 19th century the agriculture in the region was diversifying, with market gardens and citrus orchards occupying the rich soil left after the timber harvest. The road between Hawkesbury (near Pittwater) and Brisbane Water was a cart wheel track even in 1850.
Convicts once lived and worked in the Gosford area. In 1825, Gosford's population reached 100, of which 50% were convicts.
In 1887, the rail link to Sydney was completed, requiring a bridge over the Hawkesbury River and a tunnel through the sandstone ridge west of Woy Woy. The introduction of this transport link and then the Pacific Highway in 1930 accelerated the development of the region.
Gosford became a town in 1885 and was declared a municipality in 1886.