NEWCASTLE is situated at the mouth of the Hunter River and is the largest city in the Hunter Region. With its long stretch of sandy beaches and relaxing atmosphere, it‘s also perfect for a weekend away.
Named Australia’s best city beach by 101 Best Beaches in 2018, Merewether Beach has some of the best conditions for surfing, which is why some of the world’s best surfers have hailed from here including four times World Surfing Champion Mark Richards and Malibu Surfboard Riding Champion Martin McMillan.
With its native animals, picnic facilities and playgrounds, Blackbutt Reserve remains a popular attraction for both locals and tourists alike.
In the Lily Pond picnic area, families can take their kids to see the rosellas and eastern water dragons, while there’s also a restored rainforest area for some 15,000 grey-headed flying foxes.
With its awesome nature trails, photography and bird-watching are recommended here too.
Glenrock State Conservation Area
Located 5kms from Newcastle, Glenrock State Conservation Area is great for mountain biking enthusiasts, with 14kms of single tracks and 20kms of management trails.
Take a full day to enjoy bike riding through open woodlands and lush forest with graded trails ranging from beginners to advanced.
And don’t forget to stop along the way and explore locations such as Burwood Beach, Leichhardt's lookout and the waterfalls.
Located in the Hunter Valley region, Maitland is a charming country town with a rich heritage.
Take a tour and discover examples of colonial architecture as well as local museums and galleries such as the Maitland Regional Art Gallery and Australian Museum of Clothing and Textiles.
Learn more about the history of Maitland with the East Maitland Heritage Walk, which features colonial buildings such as Maitland Gaol, East Maitland Court House and Chisolm’s Cottage.
Another trail is the Central Maitland Heritage Walk that boasts buildings dating back to the 1800s such as the Maitland Railway Station, Grossman House, St Mary’s Church and Grand Central Hotel.
Werakata National Park
The Werakata National Park is located in the Lower Hunter Valley and offers a host of activities, from hiking and cycling to picnics and wildlife spotting.
One of the highlights of the park is the Astills picnic area, which offers plenty of shade under the gum trees and is great for a picnic before heading off to visit the Forestry Hut.
These types of huts were used by forestry workers and give an insight into the times of the burgeoning timber industry.
Later, take a bike ride through Deadman’s mountain bike loop, an 8km loop perfect for beginners. Whilst riding, see if you can spot some of the inhabitants including the speckled warblers, black-chinned honeyeaters and grey-crowned babblers.
As well as birdlife, Werakata National Park is home to many different species of wildflowers including the purple happy wanderer and yellow hairpin banksia, which can be seen during autumn and spring.
Walka Recreation and Wildlife Reserve is a popular spot for families and picnics, thanks mainly to a large lake that’s home to more than 300 species of birdlife and some great walking trails.
Whilst here, marvel at the ornate brickwork of the historic 19th century industrial complex that is the Walka Water Works.
Hunter Valley Horse Riding & Adventures
One of the best ways to experience the stunning scenery of the Hunter Valley is on horseback, where you can ride through the Molly Morgan Range and witness the sweeping views of the Hunter Wine Country and Lower Hunter region.
Tours are designed for the whole family, with pony rides ranging from half an hour to an hour and half - great for both beginners and those with previous horse riding experience.
Chapman Valley is another horse riding tour that gives visitors the chance to ride 8,000 acres in search of cattle and then to guide them home.
Riders will be given their own horse to care for, with chores including catching, grooming and saddling.
As well as wineries, the Hunter is home to some scenic walking trails, which wind their way through stunning greenery.
Take the walk from Bimbadeen Lookout to Pokolbin Mountain Road to witness some of the stunning landscape. From Bimbadeen, visitors are able to see across to the city of Cessnock and the Mount View sub region.
Another more advanced option is the Great North Walk to Pokolbin Wineries. Beginning in the village of Millfield, this walking trail meanders through bushland scattered with fossils and continues towards Bimbadeen Lookout and Mount View ridgeline.
The walk also gives visitors the chance to explore one of the last remaining rainforests In the area.
Once visitors reach the Mount Bright Lookout, they can see the extensive landscape of Pokolbin and its surrounding villages.
Hunter Wetlands National Park
Located near Newcastle, the Hunter Wetlands National Park is an oasis for wildlife, with designated spots for bird-watching such as Stockton Sandspit. All up, the sanctuary is home to more than 200 bird species, including shorebirds such as curlews and avocets, as well as a thriving aquatic life.
Explore your surroundings on the rainforest walk, which is accessible by both walking and cycling. Passing through wetlands and lush forests, visitors will arrive in Riverside Park, where they can go fishing or just picnic in the relaxing surroundings.
What are your favourite experiences in these regions?
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