There’s plenty of old-school family fun to be had at Hunter Wetlands Centre in Shortland. It’s a top spot to reconnect kids with nature.
Being wetlands, it’s filled with water, trees and grass and off course mosquitoes. So make sure you pack the Aerogard. And and bring closed-in shoes as well if you want to go canoeing or dipnetting.
There’s loads to things to do at the Wetlands so plan to be here for a couple of hours.
Check out the reptiles
As you first enter the Visitor Centre, head to the tanks and look at the resident reptiles. You’ll spot turtles, a crocodile, a python, blue tongue lizards and a variety of frogs.
Visit the Discovery Playground
The Discovery playground located on the far side of the BHP Pond is fantastic and suitable for kids of all ages. It’s conveniently located adjacent to a BBQ shelter and picnic facilities. This is a perfect location to cook up a BBQ lunch or enjoy a picnic from home.
Go for a walk
There’s walking trails throughout the 45 hectare Hunter Wetlands. Just follow the signs to get to different spots.
Throughout the trails, you’ll see a variety of trees including Paperbarks, Swamp Oaks and Mangroves. In addition, to the walking trails, there are plenty of boardwalks to get up close to the native birdlife.
An interesting area to visit is the Bush Tucker Garden. It contains plants that can be foraged as well as medicinal herbs.
Go for a wander to the Egret Tower, a 2-storey structure that allows you to look down at the nesting egrets.
There’s also the Sensory Trail which is a big hit with kids. There are informative signs that explain what plants to touch and smell.
Keep an eye out for the hand-carved totem poles along the trails—all are uniquely designed to represent the animals, plants and natural interactions of each different habitat.
A popular past time at Hunter Wetlands is dipnetting. The centre provides nets and buckets for a gold coin donation that kids can use on the jetty. Kids can catch insects and bugs in the wetland ponds. Look for the laminated guide which identifies bugs.
Watch the Magpie Geese feeding
Daily at 10:30am, the local flock of Magpie Geese get fed. Join us for this unique wildlife experience.
Go for a bike ride
You can also bring your bike and criss-cross around the Hunter Wetlands. Just keep to the tracks to reduce your impact on the site. Bringing your bike allows you to explore the far reaches of the park.
You can also hire canoes with kids aged 4 and over to explore Ironbark Creek at the Wetlands. Rent a 2 or 3 person canoe for 2 hours from the Canoe Shed and explore the 2 kilometre trail to the rainforest shelter. Canoe hire is only available during suitable tidal conditions so check first.
Explore on a Segway
For a unique way to discover the wetlands, go on a Segway tour with NSW Segway. The Segway Eco Xperience is a unique, sustainable and environmentally friendly method of transport.
Newy with Kids definitely recommends the Hunter Wetlands Centre for a family outing. Just don’t forget the mozzie spray! (But if you do, the Centre supplies spray). During school holidays, Hunter Wetlands organises nature-based kids workshops.
For admission costs and operating hours, visit the Hunter Wetlands Centre website.
Want more information on free family fun? Visit the Newy with Kids 50+ List of Free and Low-Cost Things to Do With Your Kids in Newcastle & the Hunter.
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