Green is the new black

Green is the new black

03 April 2020

Newcastle may best be known for its beaches but the green behind our sparkling blue is worth exploring too. 

Swap your swimmers for walking shoes and get yourself big, fat healthy dose of nature at these five glorious green spaces – all within easy reach of Newcastle.  

NOTE* some of these locations may be closed in response to the COVID-19 health crisis. We encourage you to check directly with the venue or facility for the most up to date information. 

Blackbutt Reserve

Newcastle’s magnificent beating green heart is home to soaring eucalypts, wildlife, reptiles and beautiful flora and fauna. There are seven signposted walking trails (10km of boardwalks and trails all up) through bushland and along bubbling creeks. 

One of the best to do with kids is the 1.5km Rainforest Loop Walk which offers the chance to observe a flying fox colony in the tree canopy. Ensure you stay super quiet so as to not disturb their daytime snooze. Keep an eye out too for the endangered Powerful Owls, cockatoos and other parrots nesting in overhead tree hollows. 

*While you’re there head over to Richley Reserve and let the kids loose on the Mega Adventure Playground. 

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Glenrock State Conservation Area

Part of the Great North Walk stretching 250 kilometres from Newcastle to Sydney, the Yuelarbah Walking Track is one of Glenrock’s highlights.

Setting off from the wheelchair accessible raised boardwalk, the scenic track leads you along Flaggy Creek, through wet gullies and lush coastal rainforest. Along the way you’ll pass trickling waterfalls and cross bubbling creeks before finishing at the secluded Glenrock Beach. 

Take in vistas across Glenrock Lagoon about midway along the trail and pack a picnic for lunch at Flaggy Creek or the beach. 

*Walkers can continue on to Newcastle however you’ll need to get a lift back to the carpark to collect your vehicle. Alternatively get a friend to drop you off. 

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Blue Gums Regional Park, Minmi

With towering gums and a cacophony of bird song, this beautiful green space is the perfect antidote to urban life.

Explore the park’s mining past along the 3km Heritage Walking Track which begins at the relics of an 1870's stone bridge. This short walk takes you along the original Minmi Back Creek rail embankment to Brown’s Colliery No. 2 mine, culminating at a large brick tower of an original mine ventilation shaft. Returning along Blue Gum Road takes you past a dam which was built to wash coal before transportation. 

See goannas sunbaking, hear the deafening hum of cicadas and look out for the grey goshawk (easily recognisable from its powerful yellow legs and talons).

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Fernleigh Track

Built along a disused rail line between Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, this popular 16km shared pathway weaves its way through suburbia, plunging into bushland and giving a glimpse into our industrial past.

Former train stations and heritage rail relics including overgrown sleepers, signal boxes and the incredible brick lined Fernleigh Tunnel can be seen along the walking and cycleway path (or bring your scooter or skateboard). The 181-metre tunnel runs beneath the Pacific Highway and connects Newcastle with Lake Macquarie (it’s a great place to hear your echo or grab that Insta-snap!).

The trail passes through the suburbs of Adamstown, Kahibah, Whitebridge, Redhead and Jewells as well as Glenrock Lagoon catchment, Awabakal Nature Reserve and the Belmont Wetlands State Park. With multiple access points you can walk or cycle the entire distance or dip in and out.   

*Time your walk, run or cycle during off peak times to avoid the fast moving Lycra brigade. 

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Koorangang Wetlands

Located on Ash Island near Hexham (12km west of Newcastle), this 780-hectare nature reserve is a haven for fish, waterbirds, frogs and other wildlife.

Explore the wetlands’ wide open spaces along 15 kilometres of boardwalks (look out for mud crabs), cycleways and walking tracks. Stop for a picnic or throw a line in the river. Meander through floodplain forest listening for birds and frogs and spotting spiders in their intricate webs. 

You can also explore the Schoolmaster’s House built in the mid 1890’s for the school masters of the Ash Island Public School. Still standing on its original footprint, the double brick house with three marble fireplaces is one of the last buildings standing on the islands in the estuary. 

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