The secret is out; After Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in Travel 2011’ feature, the beachside City of Newcastle continues to delight travellers. Surrounded by breathtaking sceneries, it offers diverse dining, cultural and entertainment options. With its proximity to Sydney and the Hunter valley, Newcastle remains a favourite family destination.
Climb, ride, pat, feed, surf, fish, slide, cruise, glide, drive, run, taste, challenge your mind and most of all have lots of fun!
Newcastle has loads of great family friendly activities to keep not just the kids, but Mum and Dad, entertained all year round. Here is our top 15 list of awesome family friendly things to do…
1. Pat a Koala or feed a Kangaroo at Blackbutt Reserve. With over 182 hectares of scenic natural bush land and variety of native fauna and flora species, Blackbutt Reserve offers an authentic Australian wildlife experience only moments from Newcastle CBD. Unwind in peaceful picnic and playground areas and interact with our environment through unique wildlife exhibit, tours and encounters.
2. Newcastle is a fantastic spot to catch whales in action. Whales can be viewed between May and November, when they head north to seek warmer water for the winter months. Nobbys Beach has been named one of the best spots in the world to catch these majestic creatures in action, so grab your binoculars, some snacks and a little bit of patience.
3. A popular place for family picnics and barbecues, and now a movie venue in summer, King Edward Park is the perfect spot for your next family picnic. The park also has a playground and public toilets.
4. Undoubtedly Newcastle's most spectacular vantage point, Fort Scratchley is a unique nationally significant heritage site that has unrivalled panoramic views over the Pacific Ocean, north to Nobbys Lighthouse, Headland and the Harbour, south across Newcastle Beach and Ocean Baths. Take a self-guided tour around the barracks and above ground defence structures or a guided tunnel tour.
5. Let loose in the Southern Hemisphere's longest moving sand dunes with a unique Quad Biking tour. Drift around the sand dune circuit, master donuts and race your mates. No instructors to follow. Make it your own unique, truly exhilarating experience.
6. Stretching from the commanding lighthouse at Nobbys Headland to the coastal wilderness of Glenrock Reserve and the early coal workings at Burwood Beach, Newcastle’s Bathers Way is a scenic 5km coastal walk waiting for you to discover, play, swim and eat any way you choose. Take two hours to walk the path or a month of Sundays to experience it all. Engaging tales of Newcastle’s indigenous and convict heritage, culture and natural history weave their way along the track. Look for the yellow information signs that are the storytellers, helping you navigate the Bathers Way.
7. Newcastle Museum is located right in the heart of Newcastle. Newcastle Museum brings to life significant moments of past, present and future in three major permanent exhibitions open free to visitors. To remain dynamic and relevant, the Museum also hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year.
8. Enjoy the wonderful scenery of Newcastle by bike. Newcastle has some of the most enjoyable cycle paths in the state, and was one of the first cities to introduce a bike sharing program in NSW. So why not rent a bike from Spinway at one of the many outlets and enjoy our beautiful cycle ways.
9. Teach your kids the valuable skill of learning to surf at one of Newcastle's professional surf schools. Newcastle’s beaches are a major highlight for visitors with five great surf beaches and two outdoor ocean baths.
10. Glenrock State Conservation Area, only 5km from Newcastle, offers an astounding array of recreational opportunities including mountain biking, exploring the park’s beaches, rainforest walks and waterfalls. Glenrock embraces the last surviving pocket of coastal rainforest in the region, home to a range of animals, like bandicoots, bats and gliders. It also protects a number of ancient Aboriginal sites.
11. Discover over 250 wildlife species at the Hunter Wetlands Centre, open 7 days from 9am to 4pm. Enjoy walking trails, guided tours, canoeing, dip netting, feeding talks, bird watching, children's discovery playground, Cafe Jacana, picnic and BBQs, seasonal and activity program and much more. Find out why visitors continue to be inspired by these tranquil surroundings that provide a habitat for unique and diverse wildlife.
12. Come and experience the iconic Australian bush like never before at Tree Top Adventure Park in Newcastle -. Get up-close and personal with native Australian wildlife and magnificent Gum trees, as you climb, weave and fly through the tree tops on self-guided rope courses. Flex your adventurous spirit and test yourself mentally and physically with over 100 elevated obstacles with rope ladders, wobbly bridges, tunnels, cargo-nets and zip lines.
13. While at Hunter Wetlands, engage in a unique, fun and entertaining tour by Segway with East Coast Xperiences. It will take less than 30 seconds to get your 'Segway legs' while supervised by a qualified guide. The Segway Adventures take you 'off road' and are suitable for both first time and experienced riders. Experience the phenomenon that is Segway with the wind in your hair while riding amongst nature. You will have so much fun you won't want to get off!
14. Lake Macquarie and the Hunter River are the two main bodies of water in Newcastle, and they offer a wide array of opportunities for Fishing. There are 30 spots along the coast that are designated for recreational fishing where you can cast your hook from rock platforms, beaches and jetties.
15. Go Karts Go Broadmeadow is Newcastle's biggest, fastest and most exciting 4-stroke go kart hire track. Go Karts Go Newcastle have the biggest 4-stroke outdoor go kart track and the fastest 4-stroke karts in the whole of Newcastle. With specially designed Junior Go Karts as well as twin seaters, Go Karts Go caters for those from three years to 99 years of age!