If escaping to the wilderness is your thing but you don't want to drive for hours just to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city to get your nature fix, then you have to visit Glenrock State Conservation Reserve.
Bordering the inner suburbs of Merewether Heights, Kahibah, Highfields and Whitebridge, the reserve is an inner city playground for nature lovers, beach goers, bush walkers and mountain bike riders with a labyrinth of walking and riding trails weaving through the reserve as well as beaches and of course the picturesque Glenrock Lagoon.
You can access the lagoon a few different ways but if you enjoy a nice scenic walk then try the Yuelarbah Track on the southern end of the reserve off Burwood Rd, Kahibah. This is a 2km walk through dense rainforest that forms part of the Great North Walk and has timber footbridges, lookouts and some small waterfalls which make great little picnic or rest stops.
To be honest, I was sought of expecting a nice walk and some great views, however what I wasn't expecting to see was evidence of coal mining activity that took place in the area over a hundred years ago, including relics and an old rail line running strait through the middle of the track. This area lays claim to the first coal discovered in Australia in 1791 and in 1885 the coal began to be extracted by the Burwood Coal Mining Company.
The Lagoon itself is approximately 900m long by 100m wide and has two fresh water creeks running into it before meeting the ocean at the opposite end of the lagoon and is a popular swimming spot. There's nothing better than the feeling of going for a dip in the cool saltwater after a walk or ride. And not getting pummeled by big surf is just a bonus and that's also a feature the kidlets will enjoy.
For the mountain bike enthusiasts, there are plenty of good trails, including fast paced technical or easy single track riding and although a few have been shut down to riders recently, there is still enough good riding here to keep you coming back for more. Visit the Glenrock Trail Alliance website for more info on the tracks.
This slice of wilderness, which in typical Newcastle fashion, provides beautiful scenery combined with history and culture, is truly worth seeing. As you walk or ride deeper and deeper into the forest, it is hard to believe that you are smack bang in the middle of New South Wales' second biggest city.