We’ve been hard at work in the Babyology office searching out the best activities to help keep your kids entertained. Today we’re showing you 10 amazing things to do with your kids in the Newcastle region of NSW. If you’re from the Hunter or are planning a holiday to the vineyards and need some ideas to keep the kids happy, we’ve got you covered.
1. Newcastle Museum
The museum is packed with things to do of all ages. For under fives, there’s a dedicated area Mininova. It’s a soft play area where the littles can run wild and you can rest your weary feet, or get in on the action too. On Tuesdays at 10.30am there is a book reading session called Tuesday Tales. The Newcastle Museum also has a great science area for school age kids. Entry is free and you can hit up Sprout Canteen for a yummy snack afterwards.
2. Fighter World
Do you have a budding pilot in the family? An adrenaline junky? Or perhaps a history lover? Fighter World is a hidden gem in the Hunter, filled with all kinds of planes from decades ago, right up to a modern F-111C jet. Your little pilot can actually get right into the action and in the cockpit of some of the aircraft. Fighter World is near Williamtown RAAF Base, just 20 mins north of Newcastle. There’s a cafe but you can also pack a picnic and eat while listening to the sounds of the operational air force base nearby. Admission is $40 for a family of 2 adults and all kids under 18.
3. Hunter Wetlands Centre & Spoonbill Cafe
There are so many things to do at the Hunter Wetlands Centre. There are walking and bike trails so don’t forgot to pack the scooter. You can view a huge variety of wildlife, go on a self-guided eco-tour, listen to feeding talks or have a picnic. There’s also a playground if there is still energy to be spent before you jump back in the car. Or hire a canoe and get out on the water with the birds, up close and personal. Spoonbill Cafe also has rave reviews if you’d prefer someone else think about what to have for lunch. Entry is $5 per child or a family of 4 for $15 and is open 7 days.
4. Misty Valley Blueberry Farm
If you’re after a bit of a country adventure or want to give the kids a lesson on where our food comes from, Misty Valley Blueberry Farm is where it’s at. During picking season (mid December to late January) you can go to the farm and pick fresh blueberries to your hearts content. It’s not a year round activity but it’s one that’s marked in my calendar as a must do for the summer season. It costs $15 per bucket (which is about $1.50 per punnet, a bargain when compared to supermarket costs) and the owners often spend the spring growing lots of other goodies you can take home to eat. Misty Valley Farm is in Brunkerville – only 50 minutes from Newcastle.
5. Fused Cafe
Sometimes mamma just needs a coffee. Or hot chocolate. Or if you’re like me, a Diet Coke. Fused Cafe in High St, Maitland is a great locally owned cafe that has a huge play area for the kids to go nuts over. The food is top notch and not the usual frozen and fried fare you find at other play cafes. There also is no cover charge so it doesn’t cost you to get in.
6. Speers Point Park and Sals Cafe
Now, we’ve told you about Speers Point Park before but this place is worthy of another mention. It did win best play space in Australia after all. This amazing park is located in Lake Macquarie and is home to 2ha of fun. There is a bike track, slippery slide, flying Fox, BBQ area and plenty of picnic space. Speers Point Park is also home to Sals Cafe, which is very pram friendly. Sals is great for a mothers’ group catch up or a family gathering. You’ll find Speers Point Park and Sals Cafe on Park Road at Speers Point.
7. Maitland Regional Art Gallery
I’m kind of in love with Maitland Regional Art Gallery. Other than the regular art gallery, there are weekly free art classes on Sundays (11am-1pm) for all ages – no bookings required. There are also art classes you can book in for during the week that range from baby art, which is all about fun and sensory play, to preschool age and right up to adults. Class rates are discounted for gallery members.
8. Blackbutt Reserve
If you haven’t been to Blackbutt Reserve, do yourself and the kids a favour and make a date. The reserve covers 128ha of natural bushland, with walking trails, picnic settings and wide open spaces. There are wildlife exhibits where you can get up close with natural wildlife like koalas and kangaroos and a boardwalk makes it all wheelchair and pram friendly. The exhibits are open 10am to 5pm every day and it’s free! There is a small fee if you use one of the carparks that goes to support the park. A new addition is an impressive playground that is built to resemble a bower birds nest. Seriously, go check it out!
9. Rockpooling at Cowrie Hole
Down near the ocean baths in Newcastle, there is Cowrie Hole – an amazing spot to explore natural rockpools. Cowrie Hole provides a great opportunity to get up close with sea life. The whole family can enjoy searching for crabs and other creatures living in the rockpools.
The Hood Milkbar
After some time spent frolicking in the nearby Merewether Ocean Baths or Bar Beach, you’re sure to conjure up an appetite. The Hood Milkbar is just 12mins walk from Bar Beach and an even shorter drive. They have a very impressive gelato menu so it’s quite possible the kids will think you went to The Hood because they’d like it. The Hood is family friendly dining with a ’50s flair. You can get fries, mac & cheese, burgers and subs from their huge menu. Or if you want to indulge in The Hood’s tasty shakes, gelatos or smoothies, there is also lighter side to the menu with plenty of salads. Definitely worth the trip to the Junction if you’re from out of town.
(rockpool images via Hunter Life Photography)