Stuck for ideas on what to do these school holidays? Winter activities can be hard to think of, so we’ve compiled a list of free or cheap activities that you can do in Newcastle and surrounds.
Ride an Electric Bike around Lake Macquarie
The Newcastle Herald recently reported that 500 electric bicycles will be deployed around Lake Macquarie in June! You’ll need to get an app to hire the e bikes, the service will be an affordable pay-as-you-go system. Make a day of it and take a big ride around the lake followed by a cafe lunch or get some take away and eat it by the water. It’s a good idea to pack some sun cream, water and snacks for a big bike ride outside!
Have you ever tried to lift up an entire car? Well you can at the museum! The Newcastle Museum is a hoot for all ages AND it’s open 7 days per week during the school holidays. It’s located right in the heart of Newcastle between Civic Theatre and the Honeysuckle boardwalk. The museum aims to be an accessible place and welcomes all people. Be sure to check out the website for any exhibits that might be happening over the school holidays. The current special exhibit ‘Alice’s Wonderland- a most curious adventure’ wraps up on the 10th July and has a small entry fee.
Located within the Glenrock State Conservation Area is the Yuelarbah walking track. The walk is around 6.8km return and will take you past 2 waterfalls and through to the beautiful Glenrock Beach. It’s a good idea to pack some food and have a picnic somewhere down on the beach before making your way back up.
Glenrock is also home to some amazing mountain bike tracks if you’re up for a little more adventure.
Spreading over 185 hectares, Blackbutt Reserve is home to an abundance of wildlife and nature. There are around 10km of walking tracks and FREE entry into all of the wildlife exhibits. While the exhibits are free, the parking does cost a few dollars. Picnic and BBQ facilities are open from 7am – 7pm daily so be sure to pack some snags and a hot cuppa and enjoy the serenity!
Wildlife exhibits and the kiosk have different operating hours, you can find all of the info via the link below. There is a reptile show held on Saturdays at 11am where you can get up close and personal with some of the local reptile residents. The cost for this is $4 per person.
ANZAC Memorial Walk and Lunch at Bar Beach
The bridge is about 160 meters long and starts at Strezlecki lookout, taking you to another viewing platform to look over Bar Beach. The walkway is adorned with steel silhouettes of soldiers, as well as the names of almost 11,000 Hunter Valley people who enlisted to serve during World War I. The walk will take you through to the famous Bathers Way walk heading towards Merewether, where there are plenty of shaded table areas to eat a packed lunch. There is also the option to buy some hot fish and chips from the Bar Beach Kiosk.
Picnic and Games at King Edward Park
King Edward Park has stunning ocean views and green grassy hills and flats, perfect for sunny Winter picnics. If you’re lucky you might even score the gazebo! King Edward Park has BBQ facilities, toilets and playground equipment. There is plenty of room to kick a ball around, play some outdoor yard games or why not pack some board games. If you’re up for a short walk the famous Bogie Hole isn’t far away within the park. It’s also a great spot to whale watch, which takes us to the next activity idea!
Each year from June – November the Newcastle coastline sees around 35,000 humpback whales make their seasonal commute. Why are they commuting? They are searching for warmer waters! They come from the icey cold Antarctica in search of somewhere warm to breed and have their young calves, who don’t have enough blubber on them yet to withstand the Winter temps down south. You won’t want to miss seeing these gentle giants so why not make a day of it! Pack some camp chairs, a hat, sun cream, water and snacks and don’t forget a pair of binoculars.
Hunter Wetlands Centre
The Hunter Wetlands Centre is a not for profit, self funded, community owned and operated organisation. The entry fees will depend on your age, one adult costs just $7.50. You’ll need closed in shoes for some activities, sun cream, a hat and some insect repellant. From the 2nd – 17th July there is an exhibit called ‘Who Ate The Dinosaur’ – an interactive experience featuring museum quality casts of fossils and extinct animals that once inhabited the wetlands area millions of years ago! Suitable for all ages.
Catch the Ferry to Stockton
Spend the day over at sunny Stockton! The ferry departs from Queens Wharf on a regular basis. You can view the full timetable here. Once the ferry stops off into Stockton the first thing you might notice is the new South Stockton Active Hub. The “Hub” features a huge skate park and playground. It’s one of the biggest playgrounds in the area and has something for all ages. Then there’s the Stockton breakwall, also known as ‘Shipwreck Walk’, which is a 2 km stroll overlooking the ocean. You can also see right across to beautiful Newcastle. Shipwreck Walk got its name due to the many ships that came to grief long ago. You’ll even see some shipwrecks along the walk to this day!
There are some shaded tables in the area where you can have a picnic lunch or why not try one of the local restaurants.
Just a 20 minute drive out of Newcastle you’ll find Fighterworld. Right near the RAAF base Williamtown, Fighterworld is home to an abundance of famous preserved aircraft. There is also a viewing deck where you can watch the RAAF’s premier fighter squadrons take off and land while listening to the live audio feed direct from the Williamtown Control Tower. Fighterworld is open from 10am – 4pm every day and the cost is $18 and under depending on age.
Bike Ride Along Fernleigh Track
The Fernleigh Track is 15km long and stretches from Adamstown all the way to Belmont. It’s a shared pathway for walking or cycling. There are several access points along the way which you can find here. Make a day of it and stop off at one of the access points to check out a local cafe for morning tea or lunch.
If you’re looking for more ideas on what to do in Newcastle, you can always take a look at the Visit Newcastle website or the Newy with Kids website which has an abundance of information on various activities and events around Newcastle.