CURRENT UPDATE 19 JUNE: Playgrounds, walking trails, open spaces, kiosk, shelters and barbecues at Blackbutt Reserve are open. The Boardwalk is now open to the public with strict one-way flow of foot traffic and social distancing measures in place at the animal exhibits. This follows the advice of the NSW Government and the easing of restrictions around outdoor gatherings and the use of outdoor equipment. Public programs, including animal feedings and reptile shows remain suspended until further notice.
Want an insider’s guide to Blackbutt Reserve? As Newcastle locals, our family has been going to Blackbutt Nature Reserve for years. One of the most popular attractions in Newcastle with locals and tourists alike, Blackbutt Reserve is a 182 hectare nature reserve which features native animal enclosures, walking trails, children’s playgrounds and tranquil picnic areas. We regularly visit to see the koalas and kangaroos, visit playgrounds, attend local events as well as going to birthday parties held there.
Here’s all you need to know to enjoy this popular Newcastle attraction.
What are the main areas of Blackbutt Reserve?
The park comprises of five main picnic areas but the most popular with families is the Black Duck Picnic Area (entrance via Carnley Avenue) and Richley Reserve (entrance via Freyberg Avenue). Carnley Avenue features the native animal wildlife enclosures while Richley Reserve is home to an adventure playground.
Are there playgrounds at Blackbutt Reserve?
There’s two large playgrounds at Blackbutt Reserve that the kids will love. The first is at Black Duck area at Carnley Reserve. The Bower Bird playground is designed for children ages 2 to 10. It features a large climbing structure, roundabout, see saw, a group swing, 2 slides and musical instruments.
The second and most newest playground is the adventure playground in Richley Reserve at Blackbutt. It’s a great playground that encourages nature play, adventure and risk-taking. Set in the leafy surrounds of Richley Reserve, this colourful 60 metre playground is filled with play equipment that will entertain and challenge kids of all ages. Its star attraction is a climbing tower with bridges, slide and fireman pole, and rope courses. The playground also encourages nature play. As well as being surrounded by trees and grass, the playground includes a sand pit complete with water tap (bring extra clothes!) as well as a stone garden. For those who are interested, the adventure playground features a variety of floor coverings including bark, softfall and grass.
How much does it cost to visit Blackbutt Reserve?
It’s free to visit Blackbutt Reserve but you will need to pay for parking. Currently parking is $4 per hour or $12 a day.
What are the opening hours for Blackbutt Reserve?
Picnic facilities are open from 7am to 7pm. The wildlife exhibits are open from 10am to 5pm daily (closed Christmas Day, Good Friday and before 1pm ANZAC Day)
Are there animals at Blackbutt Reserve?
Yes, there are native animals at Blackbutt Reserve. In fact, visiting the animals at Blackbutt is one of the most popular things to do in Newcastle.
Blackbutt Reserve at Carnley Avenue features native wildlife exhibits including koalas, emus, wallabies and wombats. A series of boardwalks make it easy to push a stroller and let young ones safely view the creatures up close in the enclosures. Older kids will love running up and down the boardwalks from one enclosure to another. Boardwalk now open to the public with strict one-way flow of foot traffic and social distancing measures in place at the animal exhibits.
These enclosures include birds, lizards, snakes, wombats and koalas. Kangaroos and emus are nearby in an enclosed paddock. You can also feed the emus at Blackbutt Reserve. Just purchase food at the Kiosk.
If you visit during school holidays or on the weekends, learn about the some of Blackbutt’s reptile residents during a reptile show in the undercover Wildlife Arena. It’s on at 11am on weekends and school holidays. Purchase a ticket from the Kiosk. It’s a fun and interactive show where the whole family will learn about reptiles. REPTILE SHOW CURRENTLY SUSPENDED To see Blackbutt animals at their most active, watch them while they eat. There’s feeding times for wombats, birds and koalas. Check with the Blackbutt Reserve Kiosk to find out more information on feeding locations and activities. ANIMAL FEEDINGS CANCELLED
Can you hold a koala or get your photo taken with a koala?
No. It is against regulations in New South Wales for the general public to hold koalas. However, you can see the koalas up close in the Koala enclosure.
What else can we do at Blackbutt Reserve?
There’s plenty of other fun activities at Blackbutt Reserve. You can go for a hike, have a barbecue, and watch the ducks and peacocks. There’s lots of grass for families to kick a ball around, play frisbee or just run around.
There’s also Blackbutt ParkRun, a free 5K untimed run through Blackbutt Reserve on Saturday mornings. Just be warned, it is a bit hilly. (CURRENTLY SUSPENDED)
Can I have a barbecue at Blackbutt Reserve?
Yes, bring your food and have a barbecue at Blackbutt Reserve. There’s electric barbecues dotted around the reserve. They’re free and easy to use. They are simple push button operation, and give you approximately 20 minutes cooking time. The barbecues are available for all visitors and cannot be booked. Just make sure you clean up after yourself.
Are there cafes or restaurants at Blackbutt Reserve?
No, there aren’t any cafes yet at Blackbutt Reserve. There are plans for a cafe at Richley Reserve. You can purchase cold drinks, tea and coffee and a range of confectionery items at Blackbutt Kiosk at Carnley Avenue. The closest food places would be at the strip of shops on Orchardtown Road, New Lambton. There are also water fountains dottted around the park to hydrate or refill water bottles.
Can I have a birthday party at Blackbutt Reserve?
Many local families have their parties at Blackbutt Reserve. Some choose to hold it in a picnic shelter while others organise to bring chairs and picnic blankets.
If you want to guarantee a picnic shelter, you’ll have to book it ahead of time with Newcastle City Council. There’s 15 shelters you can choose from, 5 at Carnley Avenue and 10 at Richley Reserve. They’re undercover and include picnic tables. It’s currently $190 to book a shelter.
Are there walks around Blackbutt Reserve?
There’s 9 different walking trails through Blackbutt Reserve for you and your family to enjoy. The walks are well signposted with the name of the track and the distance indicated at each major intersection. A few walks that aren’t too long (less than 2kms) are the Rainforest Walk, Forest Way and the Tall Trees Walk. You can also walk from Carnley Reserve to Richley Reserve and vice-versa.
I have a baby. Are there feeding or changing facilities?
Yes, there’s an amenities block at Carnley Avenue that was built in 2015. It features a Parents Room with a family toilet, a private room for breastfeeding mums, baby change tables and a microwave and sink for food or milk preparation.
At Richley Reserve, there are changing facilities in the amenities block.
Are there mosquitoes at Blackbutt Reserve?
It really depends. Some years, the mosquitoes are an issue. Other years, not so much. Pack mosquito repellent just in case.
Are you allowed to bring bikes or scooters into Blackbutt Reserve?
No. Scooters and push bikes are not permitted within Blackbutt Reserve. This includes around the picnic areas and along the designated tracks.
Can you take dogs to Blackbutt Reserve?
No, dogs are not permitted at Blackbutt Reserve.
How do I get to Blackbutt Reserve?
Blackbutt Reserve is located in New Lambton in the suburbs of Newcastle. It’s 8.5kms from Newcastle CBD. The best way to get to Blackbutt is by car. If you don’t have your own, go by taxi or Uber especially if you’re only in Newcastle for a short term e.g. cruise ship passengers.
Just be specific to the driver about where you want to go so that you don’t get dropped off at the wrong entrance. Carnley Avenue for Blackbutt native animal enclosures or Richley Reserve for kids adventure playground.
You can also go via public transit but it’s honestly, it’s not easy to get to Blackbutt Reserve. If you travel via bus, the closest route to Blackbutt Reserve is route 25 which drops you off at Orchardtown Road. From there, it’s a 10 minute walk to Richley Reserve or a 15 – 20 minute walk to Carnley Avenue entrance. The train is even more inconvenient. The closest train station is Kotara train station which is a 2.8km walk to the Carnley Avenue entrance.
Blackbutt Reserve is run by Newcastle City Council. For more information, visit the Blackbutt Reserve website.
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