Top 10 must-do activities in the Hunter to keep kids entertained during the holiday break

Run out of ideas for things to do with the kids during the holiday break?

Not to worry, we’ve got you sorted. 

With the help of Newcastle, Port Stephens and Lake Macquarie councils, we compiled this list of ten activities for you and the kids to get involved in this summer. 

What: Splash Waterpark

Where: Nelson Bay

When: 9am-6pm.

How: $15 for 1 hour.

Why: SPLASH Waterparks started in… Japan, of all places. But just like their quirky game shows, the floating park is a tonne of fun. You might have seen similar ones in place at Coffs Harbour or Gosford last summer, but now it’s come to Port Stephens. Situated on the shores of Little Nelson Bay, this aqua obstacle course is going to be one of the most popular stops this summer. Kids from 6-9 must be accompanied by an adult, but this one will be a hit for oldies.

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What: Grannies Pool

Where: Blacksmiths

When: Anytime

How: FREE

Why: A decades old swimming favourite of Lake Macquarie, Grannies Pool had a $300,000 upgrade completed in November. A new 350m pathway has made access easier for wheelchair users and people with reduced mobility. This tidal pool off Swansea channel makes a top sheltered spot if you’re looking for somewhere to have a dip when the beaches get rough. Take your beach chair, umbrella and kids floaties - you can’t go wrong.

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What: Variety Playground

Where: Speers Point Park

When: Anytime

How: FREE

Why: Lake Macquarie Variety Playground is the type of playground you envisioned building as a kid if your family won the lottery. A huge main tower is the central feature with slides, obstacles and climbing nets adoring the park. Once voted the “Best Play Space in Australia”, the entire Speers Point precinct is the perfect space for a family day out. There’s a small road network complete with street signs and pedestrians for kids to ride on too. Fill the esky with snacks, pack the picnic blanket and visit this must see.

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What: Dinosaurs to Dodos exhibit

Where: The Swansea Centre

When: 10am-3pm, daily

How: Gold coin donation

Why: Dinosaurs, they’ve intrigued everyone ever since the 1993 release of Jurassic Park. Perhaps even longer. And now we’ve got an exhibition of more than 120 prehistoric and dinosaur scale casts, fossils and resin replicas on our doorstep. “A unique opportunity to walk amongst huge dinosaur skeletons and examine intricate fossils that track dinosaur evolution from the Triassic to Cretaceous time periods. A journey of 175 million years,” Lake Macquarie Council Manager of Cultural Services Jacqui Hemsley said. There’s even a life-size T-Rex… 

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What: Caves Beach caves

Where: Caves Beach

When: During the day

How: FREE

Why: Easily one of the most popular attractions on the coast, the caves at the southern end of Caves Beach provide the type of hide-and-seek adventure activity that kids love. While they can be tricky to navigate, they are a sight of playful wonder. Look to combine the trip with a BBQ or picnic at the beachside facilities and you’ll be set for a stellar rating off your spouse and the kids.

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What: Blackbutt Reserve

Where: Kotara

When: 10am-5pm daily

How: FREE (A fee per vehicle applies to the Richley Reserve and Carnley Avenue car parks)

Why: There’s not too many places where you can get up close and personal with koalas, wombats, kangaroos and emus for FREE! An oldie, but a goodie. Blackbutt Reserve has been around since the ‘60s, but how many novocastrians can say they’ve actually been there? 10 minutes from the CBD to see a wildlife exhibit, well worth it when the picnic and park facilities are open from 7am-7pm too.

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What: Bogey Hole

Where: Newcastle

When: During the day

How: FREE

Why: Built by convicts in 1819, the Bogey Hole was the first European-style ocean pool built on the coast of New South Wales. And boy, didn't they leave a pristine swimming hole for the generations to come. The Bogey Hole is that secret swimming spot someone takes you to in a far-flung mountain range, except its oceanside. Re-opened last summer after a string of safety upgrades it’s ready and waiting. If you’re holidaying in town, it’s a must see for an arvo dip. If you’re a Newy local, take your relatives or friends to “your” secret swimming spot.

REFRESHING: Two kids, Taya Johnson (left) and Deanna Hammerton (right) floating by. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.

REFRESHING: Two kids, Taya Johnson (left) and Deanna Hammerton (right) floating by. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.

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What: Trampoline Park

Where: Gateshead

When: 10am-9pm (Bookings essential)

How: $12 for 1 hour or $19 for 2 hours for kids under six, $15 & $25 for ages over six.  

Why: Tramp parks have popped up all over the country in recent years and if you haven’t been to one, you’re definitely missing out. If it’s a rainy day, the Springloaded Trampoline Park is one of your best options to keep the kids active. The best part is, mum and dad can rewind 20 years and give it a go themselves. Fun, fitness and foam pits - it doesn’t get much better.

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What: FootGolf

Where: Beresfield Golf Course

When: After 10am weekdays, after 12pm weekends.

How: $15 Adult, $10 Junior or $45 Family (4)

Why: Growing in popularity for the past couple of years, FootGolf is a challenging clash of two of Australia’s biggest sports. A dedicated course at Beresfield Golf Club means you can virtually play anytime. If you don’t have a set of golf clubs or want to try something new, this is for you. Book a motorised cart to ferry you round or walk the 9 or 18 holes to work off that Christmas cheer.

Andrew Nabbout of the Newcastle Jets playing foot golf earlier this year. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

Andrew Nabbout of the Newcastle Jets playing foot golf earlier this year. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

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What: Float-a-palooza

Where: Shoal Bay or Newcastle/Merewether Ocean Baths

When: During the day

How: FREE

Why: Noticed the rapid increase in the amount inflatable water toys available in recent years? Their popularity has exploded. You can get anything from the pink flamingo to a ride-able hot dog. What better way to soak up the best days of summer than floating down the foreshore of Shoal Bay on your air-filled noble steed. Throw in a walk to the top of Mount Tomaree to check out Port Stephens’ best view beforehand and you’re all set.

FLOAT YOUR BOAT: Brooke Whyte of Newcastle blows up an inflatable donut as her daughter Victoria climbs on her back at Merewether Ocean Baths. Picture: Simone De Peak

FLOAT YOUR BOAT: Brooke Whyte of Newcastle blows up an inflatable donut as her daughter Victoria climbs on her back at Merewether Ocean Baths. Picture: Simone De Peak

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