14 Best Family Walks in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & Hunter

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There are so many great walks around Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and the Hunter. So get out and explore the great outdoors with your kids. Whether it’s a walk by the beach, harbour, lake or through the bush, there’s a walk to suit every family. Just don’t forget water, sunscreen and a hat! Then head out for some family fun and revisit a favourite walking track or explore someplace new.

Here are our picks for the top family-friendly walks in and around Newcastle and what you need to know before you go. There are some great bush walks to enjoy with kids.

Please note some places mentioned in the article may be affected by COVID-19 restrictions and may be temporarily closed. Please abide by current COVID-19 restricions while outoors enjoying public spaces.

Fernleigh Track

Fernleigh track bush walk

A former disused railway line, this is now a popular shared pathway among walkers, runners and cyclists. The trail stretches from Belmont north to Adamstown. You don’t need to do the whole 15km trail but can instead walk or cycle shorter parts of the trail.

As you travel the Fernleigh Track, you’ll go through different environments. The trail starts in the Belmont wetlands and then through bushland and residential areas. You’ll see reminders of the rail history including the platform of the Redhead train station. Further along the track, you’ll come to the Fernleigh tunnel which runs under Pacific Highway. It’s also the demarcation point between Lake Macquarie and Newcastle council areas.

  • Good to know: Facilities along the pathway include numerous access points, public toilets, drinking fountains and parking, with cafés, takeaways and local shops close by. Check the Fernleigh Track brochure for further details including all the access points to enter the Fernleigh Track. Every year in October, the Fernleigh 15 is held. This is one opportunity for runners and walkers to complete the entire length of the Fernleigh Track without traffic or bicycles. People can run the 15 kilometres or do a 5 runner relay.
  • Distance: 15.9 kilometres
  • Bring: Water and food (in case you get hungry)
  • Getting There: Start point is Railway Parade in Belmont ending near Dibbs Street in Adamstown. Access points in between.
  • More information: Fernleigh Track

Bathers Way

Bathers Way Coastal Walk in Newcastle NSW
Image courtesy of City of Newcastle

This beautiful coastal walk stretches along our scenic coastline from Nobbys Headland to the north to Merewether Baths to the south. It forms part of the larger Great North Walk to Sydney. 

There’s so much to do along Bathers Way. As well as walking or cycling the route, you can stop off along the way and have a swim. There’s a number of beaches along the way including Nobbys, Newcastle, Bar Beach, Dixon Park Beach and Merewether not to mention the ocean baths at Newcastle and Merewether and the popular Canoe Pool at Newcastle. 

Along the way, you’ll come across the Anzac Memorial Walk. Not only does this 450 metre long cliff top walkway boast amazing ocean and city views, it’s a poignant tribute to local men and women who enlisted during World War 1. (No dogs allowed on the Anzac Walk – you’ll have to take pooch along Memorial Drive instead).

Keep an eye out for dolphins. There’s a local pod that swims between Merewether and Newcastle beach. During whale watching season, you can spot whales off the coast.

  • Good to know: There are flat parts of the walk from Nobbys around to Newcastle Beach and then you’ll climb uphill towards King Edward Park and towards the Anzac Memorial Walk. It’s then downhill to Bar Beach before heading up over the hill to Dixon Park and then down to Merewether. If your kids feel like a play, there’s playground equipment at King Edward Park and also Dixon Park. There’s places to eat along the way. We recommend takeaway fish and chips at Bar Beach. You can eat them on the lawn on the hill and enjoy views out to the ocean
  • Distance: 6km
  • Bring: Swimmers if it’s a warm day. Bring scooters or bikes as it’s a wide track. Bring a skateboard as Bar Beach Skate Park is on the route
  • Getting There: Bathers Way starts at Nobbys Beach in Newcastle East ending at Merewether Ocean Baths. Access points in between
  • More information: Bathers Way

Glenrock Lagoon Walk

Glenrock Lagoon Bush Walk Dudley

Discover a walk through the bush that ends up at a secluded beach. This is the Glenrock Lagoon walk. It winds through a 500 hectare area between Dudley and Merewether and is a wonderful nature escape so close to the city. This beautiful walking trail starts from Yuelarbah car park on Burwood Road in Kahibah. 

From the carpark, walk along the raised wooden boardwalk until you cross over a wooden bridge at Flaggy Creek. Then the track continues uphill until you reach Leichardt Lookout. From here, you’ll see amazing views to Glenrock Lagoon and the beach beyond.  You can also learn more about the history of the area. It was originally a coal mine, Burwood Colliery and the remains of 1860s mine and the railway line can be seen in the area. You can read all about the history of the area at the information board at the lookout.

Continue on the track until you get to the lagoon and Burwood Beach. If it’s low tide, you can turn left at the beach and walk toward Merewether Beach and Surfhouse for some food or drink.

  • Good to know: It’s a beautiful walk but it is up and down. It suits families with babies in carriers or older kids over 5 who don’t mind walking a lot. So for kids in between,we would recommend doing the first part on the boardwalk or halfway to Leichardt lookout or be ready to carry them back. Also, there are no toilet facilities here so go before you get here
  • Distance: 2.3 kilometres
  • Bring: Water, mozzie spray and swimmers if you feel like a dip at Burwood Beach
  • Getting There: The trail starts at Yuelarbah car park on Burwood Road in Kahibah
  • More information: Newy with Kids review

Honeysuckle to Nobbys Beach

Newcastle foreshore harbour walk

This harbour walk really captures the essence of Newcastle with views of the harbour, beach and coal ships. Start the walk at Nobbys Beach (parking available here) and head towards Honeysuckle. It’s a flat, easy walk with plenty of ferries, tug boats and coal ships to watch. Stop halfway at Queens Wharf for a drink or enjoy fish and chips or an ice cream from the Scratchleys takeaway window. If you feel like a culture break, stop in at Newcastle Museum at Honeysuckle (free entry). There’s lots of interactive displays for kids and adults alike. If you’re feeling energetic, keep walking through to Wickham and Carrington or  you can actually walk all the way to Islington Park.

  • Good to know: If you want to time your walk with the entrance or exit of a ship in Newcastle Harbour, you can consult the Port of Newcastle Schedule. There’s toilets at Nobbys SLSC and Queens Wharf
  • Distance: 2.2 kilometres
  • Bring: Swimmers if you feel like a dip before your walk at Nobbys.
  • Getting There: Starts at Nobbys Beach in Newcastle East
  • More information: Honeysuckle

Nobbys Headland Walk

newcastle nobbys headland walk

Walk up to Nobbys Headland. It’s an 800 metre walk from the Nobbys Beach car park with a bit of a steep climb at the end. (Check out the sculpture in the dunes halfway up the hill commemorating the Newcastle Lifeboat Service and Rocket Brigades). Up at the top, you’ll get close to the lighthouse and enjoy great views of Nobbys Beach, Stockton, the Harbour and back to Newcastle. 

  • Good to know: Nobbys Headland will be open from 8am to 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as on cruise ship days. During daylight savings, hours will be extended. Entry to the site is free. There’s also no public amenities so use the toilets at Nobbys Beach before you go.
  • Distance: 800 metres
  • Bring: Swimmers if you feel like a dip after your walk
  • Getting There: Starts at Nobbys Beach in Newcastle East
  • More information: Newy with Kids review

Stockton Shipwreck Walk 

shipwreck walk stockton harbour

To see reminders of Newcastle’s maritime history, take your kids for a walk along the Shipwreck Walk along the northern breakwater in Stockton. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, many ships were shipwrecked as they tried to navigate entry in Newcastle Harbour. Today, it’s a fun family walk which combines history with scenic views. Although the remains of timber ships didn’t remain, the wrecks and hulls of steel and iron ships remained and were used in the construction of the breakwater. You can see the rusted hulk of the Adolphe, a French vessel that was shipwrecked in 1904.

  • Good to know: If you’re coming from Newcastle, you can catch the ferry from Queens Wharf and walk to the breakwater. If you’re driving to Stockton, there’s parking available near the breakwater. Keep your eyes peeled for seals as you can often spot them on the rocks or splashing in the water. Watch out for feral cats along the breakwater
  • Distance: 2 kilometres
  • Bring: Water
  • Getting There: The Stockton Shipwreck Walk is at the breakwater Go east on King Street until you reach the carpark
  • More information: Newy with Kids review

Awabakal Walk

Awabakal bush walk Dudley Redhead

Wander through an area of coastal heath on the Awabakal Walk. It’s a back to nature hike through coastal rainforest with spectacular views. You can start the walk at either Ocean Street in Dudley or Collier Street in Redhead. If you start in Dudley, the first part of the walk is a disabled sensory walk. The track is sandy and uneven so might not be suitable for some kids. Take a side track and it will lead you to Redhead Lagoon. There’s amazing coastal views along this walk looking back towards Newcastle at the Awabakal Viewpoint.

  • Good to know:  If you don’t want to do the return trip, time your walk with a bus trip. You can park at the SLSC at Redhead (Beach Road before Steel Street) and catch the 48 bus on Steel Street. It can drop you off at Ocean Street opp Knoll Avenue, the closest point to the start of the trail. There’s toilets at Redhead SLSC.
  • Distance: 5 kilometres
  • Bring: Water and a pair of binoculars for dolphin spotting and birdwatching
  • Getting There: You can start the walk at either Ocean Street in Dudley or Collier Street in Redhead
  • More information: Newy with Kids review

Ken & Audrey Owens Walk

bush walk lake macquarie

Near Redhead Beach is the Ken & Audrey Owens Walk. It’s an easy walk down a series of pathways and boardwalks through coastal bush leading to lookouts. It’s a top spot to take kids before or after a visit to Webb Park playground in Redhead.

  • Good to know:  You don’t need to do the full 4 kilometre walk. There’s exits along the way to make the walk shorter. The walk is suitable for prams and strollers.
  • Distance: 4 kilometres
  • Bring: Swimmers for a swim at Redhead Beach
  • Getting There: Access is via Cain Street in Redhead
  • More information: Ken & Audrey Owens Walk

Warners Bay Foreshore

Lake Macquarie walk

If you prefer lake views, do the Warners Bay Foreshore walk around Lake Macquarie. It runs from Croudace Bay / Eleebana to Booragul. It’s a flat, easy walk that the whole family will enjoy. Start the walk at Eleebana and you’ll come across a sculpture.

The walk is dotted with them as part of the Lake Macquarie Sculpture Walk. The sculptures are created by nationally and internationally renowned artists. Among others, the works include a flying pig, an oversized Buddhist monk-child and a mauve bust of Charles Darwin.

Also here is the Red Bluff Boardwalk, a 380 metre-long elevated boardwalk over the lake. Continue along this path and you’ll reach Warners Bay. Here you’ll find cafes, restaurants and a fully fenced playground, Warner Park.

Continuing on, you’ll make your way north along the lake until you approach Speers Point. There you’ll find the massive Variety Speers Point Playground and the Speers Point Swim Centre. If you want to stop and return at this point, you can or continue along to Booragul. There you’ll find the waterfront Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery.

  • Good to know: There’s car parking and toilets at Eleebana. There’s also outdoor fitness equipment so you can combine a walk with some cardio and exercise.
  • Distance: 8.9 kilometres
  • Bring: Water and your swimmers for a dip at Speers Point Swim Centre
  • Getting There: Park at Thomas H Halton / Croudace Bay Park on Bareki Road.
  • More information: Warners Bay Foreshore

Blackbutt Reserve Walks

Bush walk Blackbutt Reserve

Explore Blackbutt Reserve with your family. There’s 9 different walking trails through the reserve ranging from short, flat walks to more challenging trails with hills. A popular walk is the 2.8 kilometre Tall Trees Walk Tall in Richley Reserve which was formerly an underground coalmine. If you feel like something more challenging, try the The Blackbutt Circuit walk. This is a 6.5km loop that passes through the picnic areas of Richley Reserve and Carnley Reserve giving kids the opportunity to see the native animals at Carnley Avenue and have a play at the Adventure Playground at Richley Reserve.

  • Good to know: Walks start from both the Richley Reserve and Carnley Avenue entrance. There is a parking charge. Blackbutt ParkRun is held every Saturday at 8am in Richley Reserve.
  • Distance: Varies depending on walk
  • Bring: Water and mozzie spray
  • Getting There: Blackbutt Reserve is located in New Lambton. There’s two entrances – either via Carnley Avenue or enter via Richley Reserve (entrance via Freyberg Avenue)
  • More information: Blackbutt Reserve Walks

The Palms Track

Palms Track at Munmorah State Conservation Area
Image courtesy of Lake Macquarie Tourism

Head south to Munmorah State Conservation Area for The Palm Track. Here you’ll walk through cabbage tree palms. This walk is especially recommended during summer as it’s cool walking through this coastal rainforest. The walk starts from the Palms Picnic Area where there’s gas barbecues and picnic tables.

  • Good to know: There is a small fee to enter the park. $8 per day per vehicle. There’s also camping available in the park as well.
  • Distance: 1 kilometre
  • Bring: A picnic to enjoy before you walk and swimmers if you want to swim at nearby Catherine Hill Bay.
  • Getting There: You can enter from either the northern entrance or southern entrance of Munmorah State Conservation Area. From Campbell Drive, right onto Frazer Beach Road and after 300 metres, you’ll come to the carpark.
  • More information: Palms Track

Tomaree Headland Summit Walk

Tomaree Headland summit walk Port Stephens

For a stunning walk, head north of Newcastle to Port Stephens and walk to the top of Tomaree Headland at Shoal Bay. It’s best suited to older kids who have the stamina to walk to the top. It’s a steep walk to the summit of Tomaree Headland which is 161 metres high. The path consists of paved areas and a series of metal steps. It’s a 2.2km return journey and can take up between 90 minutes to 2 hours for the trek. From the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Port Stephens including views of Zenith, Wreck and Box Beaches, Fingal Island and Point Stephens Lighthouse. 

Good to know: The path consists of paved areas and a series of metal steps as you approach the summit. Keep an eye out for dolphins on your walk. You can often spot them along with whales during whale watching season (May to October).On the way down, do a side trek and see the historic WW II gun emplacements.

  • Distance: 2.2 kilometres
  • Bring: Water. You’ll need it on hot days. Bring swimmers for a dip in Shoal Bay afterwards.
  • Getting There: Tomaree Head Summit walk is at Tomaree Head, Shoal Bay. Follow Shoal Bay Road to the lower Zenith Beach carpark
  • More information: Tomaree Head Summit Walk

Mount Sugarloaf

Mount Sugarloaf bush walk

Visible across most of Newcastle and the lower Hunter, Mount Sugarloaf is one of the highest points around the region. At 412 metres high, it’s the hill with the radio and TV transmitters. It’s also a great spot for walks. There’s a few walking trails you can do here with your family that vary in length. It’s an easy drive up to Mount Sugarloaf located in West Wallsend. Just follow George Booth Drive out until you reach Sugarloaf Road and follow it all the way to the top parking lot. The easiest walk to do is the walk to the summit. It’s a short but steep 10 minute walk up the path to reach the summit. From the top, you’ll see views of Lake Macquarie, Newcastle, and the surrounding Hunter areas.

  • Good to know: The summit walk is short but steep. As you reach the top, you’ll need to ascend steel steps and then rock steps so prams and strollers are no good for this walk. If you’re bringing a baby, use a carrier instead. Don’t miss reading the plaque erected by the Cardiff Lions Club about snow falling on Mount Sugarloaf on July 18, 1965. 
  • Distance: 275 metres to 1.6 kilometres
  • Bring: Water and food and enjoy a picnic near the parking lot and enjoy the views of the coast. Also, bring cardboard or a plastic toboggan. One of the favourite pastimes for kids is bringing flattened cardboard or plastic toboggans and sliding down the short but steep grassy hill below the top parking lot.
  • Getting There: Mount Sugarloaf is located in West Wallsend. Follow George Booth Drive out until you reach Sugarloaf Road and follow it all the way to the top parking lot.
  • More information: Newy with Kids review

Walka Water Works

bush walk maitland

Visit Walka Water Works and see the striking historical Pump House. Built in 1887, it’s one of the largest and most intact 19th century industrial complexes in the Hunter Valley.  As well as being a popular spot for a picnic, Walka Water Works is also a great place to go for a walk. There’s a number of trails you can walk including the 3 kilometre Lake Trail which runs the length of the lake. You can sometimes spot kangaroos at Walka especially on the Kangaroo trail, one of the northern trails. 

  • Good to know: The trail and bush tracks are a gravel surface, so some prams will find the bush track a bit challenging. Use a baby carrier if possible. Mini trains run at Walka on Sundays so time your visit for then. There’s also a kids playground here.
  • Distances: 3 – 4.8  kilometres
  • Bring: Water and food and enjoy a picnic. Bring a ball as there’s plenty of lawn to kick one around.
  • Getting There: Walka Water Works is located at 55 Scobies Lane, Oakhamption Heights.
  • More information: Walka Water Works

Do you have other walks trails that you love to explore? Email Newy with Kids and let us know. For more information about walks in Lake Macquarie, visit the council website.

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