A freelance writer living with my family in glorious Newcastle. I love up-cycling, re-cycling and if I'm desperate, bi-cycling.
Published November 22nd 2012
Koalas, kangaroos and family fun
Who doesn't love a good zoo? Whether it's the way the elephants squirt water at each other or how the chimps scratch their butts and sniff, it's all good fun, and a great distraction from the human intrigue that surrounds us.
Here in Newcastle, we have an exceptional display of native animals, birds and reptiles on our doorstep at Blackbutt Reserve, Carnley Avenue, New Lambton. This is all part of a beautiful park and wildlife zone that has been established as one of Newcastle's best picnic areas. It is a must see for visitors and local residents.
There's something for everyone at Blackbutt Reserve
Blackbutt has been revamped over the last few years. If you haven't been there for awhile, it's well worth another look. There are now high quality picnic tables, children's playgrounds, sheltered areas, a large grassed area for ball games and frisbees and the animal display has grown into a very impressive exhibit. There is truly something here for everyone making it ideal for family or group gatherings. For catering purposes, there are free wood and electric barbecues available at both the Richley Reserve entrance (off Freyberg St, New Lambton) and the Carnley Ave entrance as well as decent toilets (let's face it, it's important). At Carnley Avenue, cold drinks, tea, coffee and snacks are available at the Pioneer Cottage which is run by volunteers.
There is a large duck pond here too. Although park visitors are asked not to feed the ducks to preserve their health, they are wonderful to observe along with the many peacocks that roam freely around the park.
Up near the kids playground are emus, wallabies and kangaroos happily wandering around their large compounds. For a small sum you can even purchase a seed ice cream cone to feed the emus. Kids love this place and darn it, so do I.
The Wildlife Exhibit is open daily from 9am-5pm and is free. At 2pm, the park offers Koala Encounters for $4.50 per person where you can have a pat and a photo with your favourite furry friend as the staff regale you with interesting koala facts. No bookings required for this, meet at the Information Cottage. Usually, the koalas lounge on the trees close to the viewing area giving brilliant photo ops anyway. Carry on around the exhibit to see the wombats, owls, snakes, lizards, frogs and exquisite native birds.
The group swing - part of the huge kids playground
Shelters and Animal Encounters can be booked for functions including birthday events or end of year celebrations, even weddings. For $160, you can book a Behind the Scenes, private tour for up to nine people which lasts 1.5 hours and gets up close and personal with the koalas, wombats and reptiles at the reserve. In most school holidays the park runs Junior Ranger programmes well worth checking out. There are also Spotlight Adventures on Saturday evenings in non-daylight savings times. There are also a wide range of enjoyable bushwalks throughout Blackbutt Reserve.
Barbecues are free but can get busy on the weekends