Just a few minutes south of Cessnock in the Hunter Valley, you will find the suburb of Kitchener and Poppethead Park.
Combining local history with modern facilities, this playground provides plenty of space for a great family picnic and a playground to keep the kids entertained.
Poppethead Park was converted from a coal mining site to a recreational area in the late 1980s. You’ll immediately spot the historic Poppethead of the Aberdare Central Colliery from which the park gets its name.
The playground features a zip line alongside the swings, slides and climbing wall. It is covered by a set of shade cloths to keep everyone safe from the sun and is spread out enough that you can bring a frisbee, soccer ball or football along too.
The playground has a set of covered picnic tables and even includes a BBQ area for the family feed. There is a secure toilet building very close to the playground so the whole family can be comfortable. And being close to Cessnock town centre, you can swing by and pick up your lunch and picnic supplies on your way there.
I took my two-year-old and four-year-old, and they assured me it was a fantastic playground. I can quote the four-year-old: “This is the best playground ever Dad!” This could perhaps be hyperbole, but she had a big grin and that’s what counts.
They rode their bikes and scooters on the path and had a kick around with the soccer ball. They enjoyed the swings, the slides and loved the challenge of the rock-climbing wall. But the number one attraction for them was the zip line. It gets up to some pretty exciting speeds and has a nice soft landing (just in case).
Parking is a breeze with a dedicated car park just off the road and close to the playground itself. There is a sealed footpath so you can get the stroller to the playground with no fuss. There is no fenced area so it may not be an ideal spot for letting the dogs off the leash. But behind the playground is a fantastic dirt path to take them for a walk.
If you continue down past the playground, you will get a great view of the dam (originally used for the mine) and the wetlands. You might come across the ducks and some signage with information about the area.
There is a path around the wetlands area so the kids can explore the plant and animal life, but it is only dirt and can get pretty sludgy and squishy after some rain. Definitely a gumboots kind of walk.
And you certainly won’t miss the Aberdare Central Colliery nearby. It shows an interesting sneak peek into the history of the area. The Colliery opened over a century ago and has its own story of local miners and the conditions they battled through. It is fenced off, but you can get close enough for a good look.
Bring a coffee and enjoy the sunshine.
Good to Know
Address: 37-39 Cessnock Street, Kitchener
Ideal Age: Toddlers, pre-schoolers, and young primary schoolers (ages 2-12)
Public Toilets: Yes
Water Fountain: No
Picnic Facilities: Yes – benched and sheltered
Nearby Cafes: INK Café & Takeaway, Greg’s Espresso Bar, Polina’s Café, Quick Bites Café, Chameleon Play Cafe
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Jamie is a local who is passionate about education. He worked across the Hunter as a primary school teacher in special education and mainstream classrooms, and now operates a private tutoring service. He is a husband and father of two beautiful kiddos who are always out and about with soccer, dancing, or being social butterflies. Jamie has lived in the Hunter for twenty years and his family love exploring the region for fun new experiences for the kids.