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Published December 30th 2019
The perfect school holiday destination
Blackbutt Reserve is located in Kotara, right in the heart of Newcastle's inner suburbs. This busy suburb, with a Westfield shopping centre nearby, is the last place you would expect to find a nature reserve, however the hill behind the suburb is a protected, natural area to explore. Many years ago it was an active coal mine, however the council purchased the land and turned it into the scenic, family area it is today. There are two reserves within the park - Carnley Reserve, which has a native animal zoo and also Richley Reserve, which has a large playground. The whole reserve occupies over 182 hectares of land.
Parking at Blackbutt Reserve costs $4 hour or $12 a day, however once you have paid for parking, entry is free to the whole reserve. After hearing about this tourist attraction from friends, our family couldn't wait to walk into the reserve and explore everything it had to offer. These were our family's Top 5 highlights below, however, why don't you explore it for yourself and discover your own special highlights? There are sure to be many...
1/ Peacocks wander through the reserve and if your kids have never seen peacocks before, it can be a wonderful occasion of discovery. We saw several in the main picnic area of the reserve, however, there seemed to be more walking freely all over the parkland. We enjoyed watching them fan their feathers and turn around to impress the females - who looked less than impressed!
2/ Native Animal Displays made up a large part of this reserve, with the wildlife boardwalk open between 10am and 5pm daily (last entry at 4:30pm). A short walk from the main picnic area there were two walkways to explore - one had emus and the other one, behind the Information hut, had a whole walkway of animals to see. We were so impressed to find such a modern facility, where animals were looked after and there was signage to read, to learn about each one.
Walk along the elevated boardwalk and see wombats, black-footed rock wallaby's, nocturnal birds, snakes and frogs. There was also a colourful bird aviary with a spectacular range of tropical, native birds to Australia. In the cenre, there were koalas in the trees, to complete the Aussie picture. Blackbutt Reserve also had reptile shows and feeding times throughout the day - see here for the current program.
3/ The BBQ and Picnic Area was impressive in size, with picnic shelters around the outside and a large, grassy area in the centre. It was the perfect place for children's birthday parties or family get-togethers, with plenty of room for everyone to enjoy it together. Peacocks and ducks walked around, kookaburras laughed in the trees and gum trees provided shade around the parkland. Ensure you take a picnic on your visit to take advantage of this area and there is also limited food available at the reserve. I would also recommend taking mosquito spray, however, if you forget, the volunteers sell it at the Information hut.
4/ Blackbutt Reserve Playground was another highlight, with a large, spongy wall to climb up and down, a slide, large bowl swing, climbing frame and picnic tables nearby. This playground was ideal for younger children, with a wide range of activities to explore. Younger children would also enjoy the Activity Pack, which you can buy for $3 from the Information hut nearby, which included a map and activity sheets to do as you walk around.
Activity Pack, playground and school holiday brochures, with extra activities
5/ Richley Reserve Mega Adventure Playground is also located in Blackbutt Reserve, however you need to hop back in your car and drive back out of the reserve and around the corner to Freyberg Street, in New Lambton (or there is a walking trail through through the reserve). Richley Reserve had its own highlights, with BBQ areas and shelters, however it was the huge playground that our daughter is still talking about! Your parking ticket is valid in this car park too, so ensure you visit this playground before you leave - it's a doosie! See here for a full article on Richley Reserve Mega Adventure Playground.
Our family spent a whole morning at Blackbutt Nature Reserve, but you could easily stay all day. Take a picnic lunch and enjoy a leisurely walk along the wildlife walk, as children learn about different animals while having fun at the same time. It is the perfect school holiday activity, that all ages will enjoy - not just the kids!
Mega fun at the Richley Reserve Mega Adventure Playground, just a short drive from Carnley Reserve