School Holiday Fun With the City of Newcastle

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Ready for some autumn fun? City of Newcastle is providing fun activities these school holidays at Newcastle Museum, Newcastle Libraries, Newcastle Art Gallery, Blackbutt Reserve, and local parks and beaches. For all the details, visit the School Holidays guide on the City of Newcastle website.

Newcastle Museum

There will be plenty of entertainment for curious kids at Newcastle Museum this autum

See the world in a new light through Colour – an exhibition developed by Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre. See colour as you’ve never seen it before and engage with more than 20 scientific experiences, ranging from coloured bubbles to iridescent insects to colour illusions.

Explore how light influences colour and compare your perception of colour with your family and friends. Suitable for ages 4+.

There is an admission cost for Colour. It’s $25 for family admission but you can use a Discover NSW $25 voucher so it’s free entry. Bookings are essential and can be made through the website. At the time of booking online, visitors must select the ‘Discover Voucher’ ticket type and progress through the transaction process. At the checkout page, the total cost will be reduced to $0, with a $25 discount showing.  You will be required to present your booking confirmation AND your Discover NSW voucher to staff on entry at the Museum.   

There is also the 1×4 Exhibition, an innovative exhibition. Use your smartphone to fully experience Newcastle’s Museum latest exhibition 1×4. 23 items are on display, each having four distinct stories.

1x4 Exhibition Newcastle Museum

While you’re at the Museum don’t miss Science Busking, live science shows for children. It features a whole new line-up of fascinating science demonstrations to see and conversations to have, plus the return of a few old favourites.  Come and have some fascinating science fun with Catherine and Emma on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the school holidays, no bookings required!  

The Beginners Poetry workshop is for those aged 16 and over, interested in an introduction to creating poetry.  Workshop attendees will use, but are not limited to, the museum’s 1×4 exhibition as inspiration for writing.  The workshop will last 1 hour and 45 mins, and participants must supply their own writing materials/equipment.  This workshop is one of a series of free events celebrating poetry, hosted by Girls on Key and Newcastle Museum. They invite you to perform your work at the free Open Mic event to celebrate the locally published books ‘Fossilised Lightning’, ‘Intermittent Angels’ and ‘Witted and Whispered’ on Sunday 11 April at 6pm. 

Entry to the museum is via QR code registration upon arrival. See more on the Newcastle Museum website. Newcastle Museum is open every day during the NSW school holidays.

Newcastle Libraries

There is a raft of workshop experiences to enjoy across the Newcastle Libraries branches these school holidays.

  • Paper  illustration  workshop – Join Mel O’Dell, artist extraordinaire, for a workshop that is fun for all ages. Here’s a chance to experiment, have fun and be guided in new techniques.   Suitable for ages 7 – 13.
  • Stupendous shadow puppets  workshop – Create unique coloured shadow puppets, then bring them to life!  Presented by artists from Curious Legends.   Suitable for ages 6-12.
  • Cyanotype  printing  workshop – Led by local artist Clare Weeks, participants will use personal items, hands, feet, jewellery, ribbons or toys to create a photographic image utilising the process of Cyanotype (blue printing). See images created, learn about the process and participate in the creation of your own unique cyanotype photographs. suitable for ages 7-13.
  • Write yourself the adventure of a lifetime workshop – It’s time to start a fabulous story! Be inspired, brainstorm ideas and refine your skills with Newcastle based storyteller Karen Eastwood.   Suitable for ages 8-12.
  • Transported to another world workshop – Dramatic and visual storytelling for those with huge and enthusiastic imaginations. Brought to you by the Scribble Sisters, Alex Wegner (Sketch it Live) and Karen Eastwood (Storyspot). Suitable for ages 5 – 10.
  • Enjoy fun and interactive storytimes at library branches and local parks across Newcastle, including “How to” Story Stomp and Pirate Story Stomp. Suitable for a range of ages.

Bookings are required for all workshops and all library workshops are free. See more on the Newcastle Libraries website.

Have you visited the Digital Library at 12 Stewart Avenue? Whether it’s dancing with Pepper the Robot, watching 3D printing or exploring space on the HUGE interactive screen there is something for everyone. (It’s also the best place to pick up new release books for both kids and adults!) 

There are workshops and demonstrations at the Digital Library including:

  • VR Demonstration
  • How to make a short film with a green screen   
  • Tour of the digital library followed by construction of a paper sandwich
  • BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL newcastle.nsw.gov.au/library/whats-on/events      

Budding artists will love what’s on offer at Newcastle Art Gallery. Indulge your passion for art and food in the Illustrating Food Workshops, or get hands-on in local Aboriginal artist led bracelet weaving and dilly bag making workshops.   

  • Illustrating food workshop – Taking inspiration from Newcastle Food Month, budding artists can participate in an Illustrating Food workshop drawing bowls of fruit and food specimens. Learn tips and tricks to create your own work of art full of fruity wonder.   Suitable for ages 5-12 years.
  • Aboriginal weaving workshop – Learn traditional weaving techniques in an artist led workshop with Aboriginal artist Michelle Napanangka Earl. You will be guided through step-by-step instructions to create your own unique bracelet.   Suitable for ages 5-12 years.
  • Teen Masterclass – Make a Dilly Bag – Learn how to create your own string and weave a dilly bag with Aboriginal artist Michelle Napanangka Earl. Set within the exhibition VOID, you’ll be guided through a combination of weaving techniques by Michelle Earl.  Suitable for ages 13-17 years.
  • Taste of the Bush – Coinciding with Newcastle Food Month and in celebration of the closing weekend of the exhibition VOID, Newcastle Art Gallery invites you to a Gallery wide, family-friendly, celebration of Aboriginal art, food and culture.  Experience the unique flavours of Australia with Oz Tukka, who will be offering free tastings of food flavoured with Australian native spices. Enjoy a special dance performance by Catapult Dance in response to the Aboriginal exhibition ‘VOID’. Explore traditional and contemporary craft through artmaking activities and live demonstrations.  

Did you know Art Cart is also on every Saturday during the holidays? Art Cart engages children with the exhibitions on display through discussion and art making. Led by Gallery educators, every weekend we interact with a different work of art on display. Activities are suitable for children of all ages, with supervision required by a parent or carer. Limited spots available.

Bookings are required for all workshops and costs vary, see more on the Newcastle Art Gallery website. The gallery is open every day during the NSW school holidays

Blackbutt Reserve

Playgrounds, walking trails, open spaces, shelters and barbecues at Blackbutt Reserve are open. Visit Blackbutt and see family favourites like koalas, wallabies and wombats. You can also see emus, wallabies and kangaroos in a separate paddock behind the playground. The kiosk has reopened for snacks, coffee and animal food. Purchase a feeding cone from the kiosk and feed the emus. However, public programs, including animal feedings and reptile show, remain suspended until further notice. But you can book a private reptile or critter encounter with the Blackbutt rangers.

There’s also 10km of walking trails and plentiful picnic and playground facilities to enjoy. Drop into Richley Reserve and experience the adventure playground with rope courses, bridges, swings and slides, and an adventure tower, or swing by the playground at the Carnley Avenue entrance ideal for children aged 6-10 years with interactive musical instruments and activities.

Blackbutt Reserve is open every day during the school holidays. Wildlife exhibits are open 10am – 5pm, picnic facilities 7am – 7pm and the kiosk 10am – 3pm. Visit the Blackbutt Reserve website to find out more.

Fort Scratchley

Boasting one of the best panoramic views of Newcastle and with space for the kids to run wild and free, this historic landmark is a must do for all school holiday itineraries. Pack a picnic and enjoy the rolling grass hills overlooking the ocean, or book in for a tunnel tour where you will learn about this history of this amazing site. Stick around for the daily gun firing at 1pm (weather permitting)! For more details visit the Fort Scratchley website.

Fort Scratchley will be closed on Good Friday (2 April) but open as normal all other days from 10am – 4pm. The Fort is closed on Tuesdays.

Get outdoors

If it’s still warm, enjoy the weather at local pool or beaches. Local swimming centres are open. Choose from Lambton Pool, Beresfield, Mayfield, Stockton and Wallsend pools.

Prefer the beach? Head to one of the beaches or ocean baths. All beaches are patrolled during the summer surfing season from 26 September 2020 until 18 April 2021. Nobbys, Bar and Merewether Beach are patrolled all year round

Discover another playground. Pop into any of the 120 playgrounds in the area or a brand new playground. Updated playgrounds in Newcastle include Stevenson Park in Mayfield West, Brickworks Park in Wallsend and the Carrington Street Reserve playground in Wallsend or else visit one of your favourite playgrounds.

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