This former steel city, located 2 hours north of Sydney, boasts amazing beaches, fun-filled parks, fantastic restaurants and unique shopping. Whether you have a baby, toddler or school-aged child, Newcastle is an ideal choice for parents craving a relaxing holiday while still keeping little ones entertained.
Start your tour of Newcastle at one of the city’s many beaches. Nobby’s beach is a favourite with tourists and locals alike for its views of Nobby’s headland and Stockton Bight. Work up a sweat walking to the end of Nobby’s breakwall and then cool off with a swim at Nobby’s beach. The kids will love building sandcastles and frolicking in the surf.
If the waves are a bit rough, take the kids for a swim at the nearby Newcastle Ocean Baths. With its historic Art Deco façade, it’s a great place to float and count the coal ships moored offshore. There’s plenty of room to swim laps or splash around and the sandy bottom of the pool feels lovely squished between your toes.
For toddlers, the Canoe pool next door is ideal. It’s a safe, shallow sandy pool that’s rumoured to have a concrete map of the world buried deep underneath. Set up a sun shelter and let the kids splash around and chase the resident seagulls and pelicans who hover nearby.
For a bite to eat, check out the nearby cafes on Newcastle Beach, Estabar and Liquid Gold. Liquid Gold offers hearty breakfasts while Estabar is the place to go for coffee, cakes and gelato. There’s plenty of room to park a stroller by the outside tables while you munch contentedly and gaze out at the ocean views.
Swap ocean views for harbour views and walk along Newcastle’s working harbour. The wide harbour path is perfect for pushing a stroller or following kids on a tricycle or a scooter. Children will love the hustle and bustle of the working harbour. If you’re lucky, you might spot a massive coal ship entering or leaving the harbour dwarfing the tugboats besides them.
Don’t forget about Foreshore Park. It’s an ideal spot for kids to let off some steam with plenty of fun playground equipment.
When it’s time to continue your travels, walk up to Queen’s Wharf and have a drink while you watch the Stockton Ferry zip back and forth across the harbour. If you have time, the 5 minute ferry trip to Stockton is a real treat for kids. With ferries running every 15 minutes, you can check out a bit of Stockton by foot before returning on the ferry.
After your “overseas” trip, continue walking west from Queen’s Wharf until you arrive at Newcastle’s renowned seafood restaurant Scratchleys. Having a tot doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the scrumptious seafood as Scratchleys offers a takeaway window where you can order a variety of things including fish and chips and ice cream cones. Grab a seat at one of the outside tables and chairs and wait until your order number is called and then enjoy both the food and view!
For more harbour views, continue walking down to Honeysuckle or else jump on the free Newcastle shuttle bus which loops around the Newcastle CBD to get you there. Honeysuckle is a waterfront dining precinct featuring numerous cafes and restaurants with cuisines including Modern Oz, Seafood, Italian, Thai, Japanese and Korean. If the kids aren’t too enthused with those offerings, eat at the family favourite Hogs Breath Café.
While in Honeysuckle, be sure to check out the newly opened Newcastle Museum. The interactive Supernova science exhibits will keep children entertained while the Newcastle exhibition will educate parents on the history of the region. For toddlers, there is a small indoor play area featuring soft mats to keep them safe while they toddle around. With free admission, it’s a great option on a rainy day.
If it’s not a rainy day, visit Blackbutt Reserve in New Lambton where koalas, emus, wallabies, wombats and peacocks reside. Blackbutt Reserve is a 182 hectare reserve in the middle of Newcastle’s suburbs which features walking trails, children’s playgrounds and tranquil picnic areas with free gas barbeques.
However, its wildlife exhibits are the main attraction. A series of boardwalks make it easy to push a stroller and let young ones view the creatures up close in the enclosures. Admission is free but there is a parking fee.
While in New Lambton area, check out Lambton pool with its aquatic playground complete with water cannons, water jets and slash pad and a giant water tipping bucket. Be warned, you will have problems dragging your children from the playground!
Speaking of playgrounds, if you have the time, visit one of NSW’s best playgrounds at Speers Point. The Lake Macquarie Variety playground offers numerous playground zones catering to all ages and abilities including special equipment for children with disabilities.
The park includes all the usual favourites such as swings and slides as well as water play areas, flying foxes, climbing tower and a giant 9 metre spiral slide. This park is sure to exhaust even the most energetic of children, so be sure to follow up with rest time.
For a place to stay in Newcastle, check out the Crowne Plaza Newcastle in Honeysuckle or the Novotel Newcastle Beach which offers family-friendly amenities. Cots and highchairs are available on request and they can also arrange a babysitter if required. Mums can even nip out to some local day spas for some pampering beauty therapy.
If your preference is retail therapy, wander through the boutiques of nearby Darby Street. After perusing through fashions from both local and international designers, grab a cup of the city’s best coffee from Goldberg’s Café, a Newcastle institution. Wander back to the hotel with the satisfaction of a successful family holiday. Fun for all but most importantly, a break for mum and dad!