Take A Family Sunday Drive To Action-Packed Newcastle!
By: Phoebe Ackland, ellaslist
At ellaslist, we're always on the hunt for awesome family-friendly destinations for sneaky weekenders and short and sweet road trips.
If you feel like you're not getting enough quality time with your little ones, work demands are piling up and that once-a-year to Bali is months away, why not make Newcastle your next long-weekend priority? The kids will love it, and it's only a pleasant 2-hour drive from Sydney. Here are our top picks for places to go and things to do in and around Newcastle for families:
1. Speers Point Park
Often ranked the best playground in Newcastle. It is an all ages, all-abilities playground complete with a giant 9-metre spiral slide, a 12m tall climbing tower with climbing nets, a flying fox, spinning carousels, a maze, heaps of swings, a bike track, a wheelchair accessible play boat, water play, musical play features, a performance stage, and even a quiet zone. The playground can be found on 2 hectares of land with picnic facilities and other amenities- all the makings of a great family day out.
2. Blackbutt Nature Reserve
Head here for a hands-on animal adventure! At Blackbutt you can participate in a reptile show and interact with some slimy and scaly friends, or witness one of the awesome feeding demonstrations including Wombat feast, bird brunch, nocturnal nourish, and koala dining. Kids can also feed emus by hand, complete the activity pack, or play at the playground suitable for 6-10-year-olds with interactive musical features. More information here.
3. Newcastle Museum
There are some awesome permanent exhibitions at Newcastle Museum for kids and families to enjoy! Supernova is a hands-on science centre where kids can touch and feel their way to discovery. Fire and Earth is where you can learn about the region's industrial past, and the Link Gallery is home to an 1890 pipe organ, a locomotive from 1870 and other heritage-style relics. They also offer great events including Mininova- a soft-play section of the museum for under 5s, and school holiday workshops all about trains and automobiles! More information here.
4. Nobby's Beach
Newcastle's most popular, well-known beach! There are beautiful ocean baths to enjoy at this year-round patrolled beach, as well as Nobby's Lighthouse for a leisurely stroll and scenic gaze over the water, picnic shelters, and a great kiosk. Some whale watching is perfect if you're lucky enough to visit during those golden months, or simply a splash around in the water should put a smile on your family's dial. Bogey Hole at Newcastle Beach is another local favourite- these prisoner-built baths are pretty pumping in Summer but can get a little rough, so be careful with little ones. More information here.
5. Fort Scratchley
"Standing sentry over Newcastle since 1882." For a taste of local heritage, head to Fort Scratchley where there are a number of historic buildings and installations including old servant's quarters, the old guardhouse with two old jail cells, Commandments Cottage, a laboratory, an observation post and 5 Museum rooms covering everything from pre-Fort use by the Awabakal people, to the Fort's important role in coastline protection during WWII. More information here.
6. Eating & Drinking In Newy
Newcastle is a pretty kid-friendly place, its cafes and restaurants included. We recommend Coffee Infusion in Lambton for delicious food and then onto the awesome playground across the road, as well as the Sunnyside Tavern for a spacious outdoor seating area for families with $5 kid's meals and a resident face-painter available on Friday nights, Cafe Inu for a relaxed, family-friendly experience, and The Locale for seriously amazing, Instagram-worthy food.
Megamania is a playland AND family restaurant- a winning combination if we've ever heard of one! The restaurant is licensed and serves all the favourites including schnitzels, steaks, pastas, seafood and salads. The best part? When you dine in, kids play free! The playland is suitable for kids aged 12 years and under, complete with a jumping castle, slides and all sorts of climbing structures. Families could not be more at home anywhere else! More information here.
8. A Little Drive Away
If you find yourself on an extended stay in Newcastle, then there are some nearby destinations that might just be worth the journey. The first is Oakvale Farm & Fauna World (40-minute drive from Newcastle) where you'll find a water play park called Splash Bay, as well as various hands-on animal encounters, and daily shows including cow milking, tractor riding, reptile petting, bottle-feeding of baby animals, Tassie Devil talks, and lots more. The second is Irukandji Shark & Ray Encounters (also a 40-minute drive) which offers a range of awesome, daring and educational experiences as you get into the water with various marine life.
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