We love Newcastle!
Just a short 2 hour drive north of Sydney you can easily spend a day, a weekend or a month here. There are so many things to do in Newcastle with kids you won’t know where to start – so we’re here to help.
We’ve listed some of our favourite family friendly activities in Newcastle below. What’s even more exciting – all of them are free!
We spent a full day at Newcastle Museum and came back for some more later in the week! Entry is free and they have dedicated spaces for kids – Mininova and Supernova. There are loads of scientific experiments to try out – while we were there we created a mini tornado and lifted a full size car! There is also a big soft play area for little ones (under 115cm) which is part of the exhibits. The layout is fabulous in the way that older kids can experiment while younger ones climb and play, and parents can watch over both. Needless to say I also had a lot of fun – I may have spent a little too long on the reaction time game and the speed throw!
After you’ve played and experimented to the max, don’t miss the rest of this fab museum. Every hour there is a brilliant steelmaking simulation in the BHP ‘Fire and Earth’ exhibit. Give yourself plenty of time to wander around and learn the history of the steel making and coal industry of Newcastle, then take a seat and be transported back to a working factory. See the smoke, the fire and hear the noise from the steel making process but be warned – it’s a loud and intense experience (younger kids might be a bit overwhelmed – although our 2 and 4 year old were fine).
We had a picnic on the shady grassy area at the back of the museum, but there is also a cafe if you need to buy food. After lunch we looked around the other permanent exhibits – learning all about the rich history of Newcastle and getting to play in a beautifully restored historic tram.
Don’t miss the opportunity to have a photo as ‘Newcastle’s Most Attractive Couple’ while you’re visiting!
There are loads of kid friendly beaches on the Newcastle coast. Merewether Beach on the north side of town is rumoured to be Australia’s best beach – you can’t really argue when you see it! What makes it even better when visiting Newcastle with kids is the ocean baths at both Merewether and Newcastle Beach – even when the waves are high you can still swim safely. Another great thing about the beaches is that they are linked by great walking paths that are perfect for strollers or scooters.
Originally built in 1882 to defend Newcastle from attacks from the sea, it now stands as a museum and historical site that is free to enter. And the views from the top are magnificent! The boys loved exploring – we climbed up the watch tower and looked out over the ocean to spot pirates, visited the barracks, servants quarters and loads more.
We were also lucky enough to see the time gun being fired at 1pm but according to their website this activity has been suspended until further notice – check with them before going for more information.
There is also a guided tour of the tunnels (extra cost) but this is not suitable for younger kids so we didn’t try it.
Blackbutt Reserve – Wildlife
We were astonished to find that entry to this nature reserve and the wildlife park is all free. It is beautifully maintained, has an abundance of wildlife and there are even feeding times and talks throughout the day. You can see koalas, wombats, emus, peacocks, birds and reptiles. At the weekends there is a reptile show ($3 per ticket). There is a great playground, big green spaces and walking tracks too.
Overlooking the breathtaking Nobby’s beach, Nobby’s Lighthouse has been protecting sea-farers in Newcastle since 1858.
The headland gives you incredible views along the coast and across Newcastle (the steep walk up the hill is worth it – we promise!).
It’s been an active lighthouse for 150 years and it is open to visit on Sundays between 10am and 4pm.
We have visited a lot of playgrounds on our trip so far – and Speers Point Park in Lake Macquarie is easily one of the best in Australia.
It’s an all abilities, fully fenced space located 20kms from Newcastle. They have a giant, 9 metre enclosed spiral slide, musical play equipment, climbing walls, nets and towers, a double flying fox, a bike and scooter circuit with play petrol pump and road signs, water play and a pirate play ship. There are also BBQs and a kiosk and cafe. Check out our video on Facebook for a look around.
We also found a great playground – Foreshore Park – in Newcastle town centre.
Skate, Scoot and Cycle
Newcastle has created amazing spaces for families – including a series of safe cycleways and paths that can be enjoyed at a slower pace. Try the Tramway Track, Bathers Way or the Fernleigh Track – definitely don’t forget your bikes and scooters when visiting. For more info on all the kid friendly paths and tracks in Newcastle click here.
Newcastle Art Gallery
After all that play it’s time for a bit of culture! Newcastle Art Gallery is a stunning gallery – and on the weekends they do art inspired craft and workshops with kids for free.
Outside the gallery is a great sculpture of an egg in a nest – we had a great chat about who laid it and how it got there!
If you enjoy art – keep an eye out around town for some of the incredible street art on offer – there’s loads hidden around Newcastle.
Take a Ferry to Stockton
Enjoy a short ferry ride across Newcastle Harbour to the picturesque seaside village of Stockton. We didn’t get time to do this but have been told it’s a lovely way to see the city and to appreciate the importance of the harbour to Newcastle’s history.
Why stop there? You can also easily reach the Hunter Valley (wine!), Port Stephens and Maitland from Newcastle. We’ve got all these stops on our itinerary for our next trip – watch this space!
Don’t forget that Sydney Trains (which includes the Newcastle region) offers $2.60 unlimited public transport on it’s networks all day on Sunday – meaning a very cheap way to travel there from Sydney or a great way to sightsee. There is also a free city loop bus in Newcastle from Monday – Friday to get you around the attractions.
Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments if you know of anymore great things to do in Newcastle with kids – and watch our video below for all of our highlights.
See you in Newcastle!