Outdoor Activities Without the Crowds in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & the Hunter

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If you’re concerned about the Omicron surge, here are some places to get out and explore in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & the Hunter that have less potential for crowds and more space to social distance.

We’ve chosen places that aren’t as busy as some of our more popular attractions but make sure you still maintain 1.5 metres from other people, wear a mask when appropriate and bring hand sanitiser to maintain clean hands. Please stay home if you feel sick.

Disclosure:  Ultimately, it’s up to individual families to decide their level of risk. Some families will choose to stay home but for others, getting out might improve their mental health. No matter what you do, please ensure that you abide by current health alerts following COVID-19 recommendations from the NSW Health.

Here are places or activities that are less busy that you might want to go with your family

Go hiking

Go for a hike where there’s more room to stay away from other people. Hike along the Yuerlarbah Walk at Glenrock Lagoon. Do the Awabakal walk from Dudley to Redhead Walk and enjoy panoramic views of the coast. Enjoy the Redhead Coast on the Ken and Audrey Owens Walk. Explore Shipwreck Walk, a walk along the Stockton Breakwater which incorporates the wrecks and hulks of several iron and steel ships within the structure. For more walks, check out our roundup of local family walks.

Wander through Blackbutt Reserve

Some people might disagree as Blackbutt Reserve can get pretty crowded at times. However, it’s actually a good place to visit as there is so much space. The wildlife enclosures have reopened with social distancing protocols but the reptile shows are on again. There are also 9 different walking trails to wander down as well. Some of our favourite walks which are under 2 kilometres long are the Rainforest Walk, Forest Way and Tall Trees Walk. Plus, the playgrounds are open and there is plenty of space to kick around a ball, play hide and seek or tag.

Do a Newy with Kids scavenger hunt

Newcastle Scavenger Hunt

Get out and explore Newcastle! Newy with Kids has developed six family scavenger hunts printables to download for free. These scavenger hunts were an idea that came out of the 2020 lockdown. We wanted to create a self-directed activity that families could do in their own time and in a COVID-Safe way. None of these scavenger hunts involves touching anything but rather observing and reading signs, plaques or places of interest.

Download the self-directed scavenger hunt and then visit the location. You and your family will need to find various points of interest and answer the questions listed on the map to solve the mystery phrase. It’s an opportunity to notice landmarks and interesting things you might not necessarily notice. There are eight scavenger hunts to choose from: Civic Park & Honeysuckle, Foreshore Park, Stockton Foreshore, Newcastle Museum, Blackbutt Reserve and Wallsend Brickworks Park plus two new ones for Lambton Park and Throsby Creek.

Play frisbee golf

Take some frisbees and play frisbee golf at Jesmond Park or at Styles Point Reserve in Rathmines. Just make sure that you don’t touch any other groups’ Frisbee and vice-versa.

Go for a bike ride

Get on your bike. Newcastle is full of some of the most beautiful and fun bike paths to suit any cyclists – from little ones just beginning on their biking adventures to those kids who want some challenge and fitness. Try the Stockton Cycle Path or the trails at Ash Island. Here’s some of the best kid-friendly cycle tracks around Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.

Go orienteering

Try orienteering at a permanent course at Blue Gum Hills Regional Park in Minmi. Orienteering involves using a detailed map and usually a compass to navigate one’s way round a course with designated control points (check points), which are drawn on the map. Blue Gums Hills has lots of space for kids to run around. Just bring your own supply of water as there’s no bubblers onsite.

Go to the beach

Even though there are more people at the beach at this time of the year, you can still find space to distance from other groups. You can build sandcastles, walk along the beach, explore rock pools at low tide or go for a swim between the flags.

Head lakeside

Find a spot around the lake. There are lots of quieter places at Lake Macquarie. Go for a walk, ride a bike or scooter, go fishing, fly a kite, throw a Frisbee or just have a picnic and enjoy the views.

Go geocaching

What’s geocaching? It’s a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Instead of handling the geocache, just look at it though.

Have a family picnic

Want to skip eating in at a cafe or restaurant for now? Either get a takeaway meal or pack your own food and enjoy a meal outside at one of these picnic spots in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and the Hunter. We’ve chosen places with picnic shelters, amenities and barbecues.

Hunt for street art

Get out and look at street art and cool graffiti. There is no shortage of murals throughout Newcastle. Here are some of our favourite street art for you to explore with your kids! There’s lots of wide open spaces so you don’t have to worry about getting too close to other people.

Spot dolphins and whales

Get up high on a local headland and look for dolphins. Suggestions: Fort Scratchley, Nobbys Headland, Redhead or Dudley Bluff. As it’s currently whale watching season, check out our guide to spotting whales with your family.

Explore caves

Explore the caves at Caves Beach at low tide and in calm sea conditions.

Watch clouds

 Lie down, relax and have a cloud watching session. You can do this at any park or even in your backyard.

Roll or slide

Roll down a hill or slide down a cardboard toboggan. Suggestions: King Edward Park or Mount Sugarloaf.

Get back to nature

Enjoy a family nature day out with a visit to Kooragang Wetlands also known as Ash Island. With over 780 hectares of reserve, there’s plenty of area to explore as well as kilometres of walking and cycling tracks.

There’s also the Hunter Botanic Gardens in Heatherbrae which is an absolute delight with lots of kid-friendly activities. There is a cute little cubby house, outdoor toys, picnic tables, grassed spaces, stepping stones and even some painted caricatures for cute photo opportunities with the kids. With 30 hectares, there is plenty of space to wander around and see a stunning array of native and exotic gardens.

Get up high

Get up high and look at a view. Some less-visited places to go to see views is the Obelisk in The Hill, Nobbys Headland, Mount Sugarloaf and Munibung Hill.

Walk at Walka

Go to Walka Water Works outside Maitland. There are walking trails located throughout the park. The Bush Trail is known for its expansive views and The Kangaroo Trail is where, you guessed it, you are most likely to see a mob of kangaroos.   February 2022 Update: Maitland City Council has identified the presence of asbestos at some parts of the site, most likely associated with the site’s historical use as a power station. As a precaution, the entire Walka Water Works site HAS BEEN CLOSED to the public until further notice.

Go plane spotting

Head to Williamtown for some plane spotting. Take your kids and spot fighter jets at RAAF Base Williamtown. If you have a budding Top Gun jnr. in the family then where better to take them to where our ace pilots train?

Go to a drive in movie

The Heddon Greta Drive In is open. Pack up the kids and the car, grab some blankets and your favourite movie night snacks – and head to the Heddon Greta Drive In! To keep guests and staff safe, there will be increased hygiene and cleaning procedures. Read our review of the drive in (visited before lockdown) for great tips for a fun night out.

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