For years we have driven past a little bridge that sneaks off the main road through Hexham before you pass over the big bridge to head into Raymond Terrace.
For my 30th birthday I was half way through pregnancy and decided I didn't want a big party but just a small family picnic so we decided to all meet at Ash Island and check it out. Ash Island is part of the Hunter Wetlands National Park.
We drove over the bridge and looked out into the water to see quite a few fishing boats out. It was shaping up to be a warm windy day but we were hoping the mosquitos, or "Hexham Greys" as the locals know them, were under control.
As we drove we saw there were plenty of roads and many walking tracks to choose from. We ended up driving left off the entrance road up Scotts Point Way. At the end of the road there was room for us all to park around the cul-de-sac and we hopped out of the cars. Just to the side of the road the trees opened up to a nice clearing that we could all fit in with a few bench seats.
The area was nice and shady with a bit of wind shelter and no mossies. Just off the clearing was a great metal walkway over some of the wetlands. After lunch, young and old, we all went walking across it where we spotted some wildlife. The spoonbills seemed to be the crowd favourite with one black spoonbill (Royal spoonbill) surrounded by a harem of yellow-billed spoonbills. Further along the metal walkway ended and turned into a windy path, this is suitable for children and adults but we had one wheelchair and it got a bit rough for that.
After our walk we headed back to cut my birthday cake, a yummy passionfruit cake from The Euro Patisserie at Blackbutt. I highly recommend their yummy cakes for special occasions.
Still not a mosquito bite on me which is a bit of a surprise seeing I seem to be their favourite snack. Although come to the middle of a humid summer I'm sure they would be everywhere, but September seems to be a good time.
After that all the kids were exhausted and ready for home, but there are plenty more things to see on Ash Island, including some bumpy tracks that might be better accessed by a 4WD when the roads are a bit wet.
I recommend Ash Island for a great place to enjoy a picnic, let the kids run wild and get outside. If you are an avid bird watcher we saw a few people with their really long lenses attached to their cameras so I'm sure there are plenty of species to be spotted and I've included the list link. And sometimes you may even see a small group doing wild and crazy tricks with their mini helicopters.
Great article. It really is Newcastle's best kept secret. There's some great information about Ash Island on this website:https://kooragangwetlands.com/ including the details of a fantastic event coming up there on Sunday 15 April 2018.