I have a friend who says that if you blink while driving through Morpeth you might miss it, however after several visits to the town I can tell you, there’s enough to do in Morpeth to keep you busy for some time. It’s an enchanting town, filled with 19th-century heritage buildings, old-school candy stores and a picturesque riverbank lined with horses. As it’s only 30 minutes’ drive from Newcastle city centre, a family day out to Morpeth is perfect for a family who wants to get out into nature without having to travel too far.
Morpeth’s activity centres around its main street called Swan Street and is lined with a museum, antique stores, delis, and cafés. Grab a parking spot along this street or like we do, somewhere up on the outskirts in a connected side street. This allows you to take a good walk around Morpeth and see it all.
A normal day for us out in Morpeth starts with a breakfast at any one of the cafés along Swan Street. Of course, one needs to line the tummy before venturing out to sample fudge, candy, and ginger beer up at Campbells Store.
This is a large heritage building built up of a cluster of antique stores, galleries, and delis.
Up on the second level, you will find a toy store and museum like no other, filled to the brim with old toys from another time, the collections are charming and incredibly varied. I love watching my daughters face as she looks over hundreds of dolls spanning all the decades. There is a sense of magic here, something that modern-day toy stores don’t always seem to capture just right. It’s fascinating.
No visit to Morpeth with children would be complete without a visit to Miss Lily’s Lollies. Whilst Campbells Store offers an array of delicious treats, Miss Lily’s Lollies enjoys a range of homemade fudge, and the largest range of Australian, American and English lollies.
It is full of children and adults alike and I’ve been known to leave with my own bag of lollies, even at the age of 35!
Once you have your snacks and you are looking for a spot to enjoy them in the sunshine, you have a range of options. Our favourites include Illalaung Park or the Ray Lawler Reserve.
Illalaung Park is a great spot right on Swan Street. It sits on top of a great river view and is a grassy little space with some picnic tables for eating. The park also offers a staircase that goes down to the river and an opportunity to go under the popular Morpeth bridge and listen as the cars whizz by above.
If you’re wanting a bit more open space, then you need to head down the street from the town’s centre, a mere 750 meters away to the beautiful Ray Lawler Reserve also known as Morpeth Common.
It’s a sprawling green space that begins with a fenced-off park and picnic benches, great for meeting with friends or family out in the countryside. The water next to the play area is also fenced off, which gives parents a bit more security with little ones around the water.
There are horses, ducks and cows spread all around, and as far as public parks go, this must be one of my favourites.
The reserve stretches along a deep avenue of trees, which end up at a field of inquisitive cows and horses. It is a large inviting green space that is simply perfect for birthday parties, picnics, or even just a walk for some fresh air.
So yes, don’t blink when driving through Morpeth, it’s a gem you don’t want to miss. The town has so much to offer and is so very welcoming of visitors. What you want to do is park your car, grab the kids, and go make a day of it.
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Jenna moved to Newcastle from South Africa 3 years ago, which has allowed her to experience the city with a fresh perspective. As mum to a wonderfully wild daughter who shares her passion for fun and adventure, they spend their time getting to know the city mostly on foot and bicycle, which affords Jenna an opportunity to bond with the city more intimately. Follow Jenna’s adventures on her Instagram account ‘Newy Kind of Life’ in which she shares her passion for Newcastle and its lifestyle through her photography and writing.