Surf and the city: Newcastle with kids

Newcastle is a beachy town full of family-friendly fun.

Two children splashing in the water at Canoe Pool, Newcastle. Image credit: Destination NSW
  • Jetstar
  • July 2022

Laidback but lively with plenty of oceanside activities, Newcastle is perfect for a family holiday. Take the kids for a splash around in the ocean baths or a bike ride on the coastal paths. Keep them entertained at interactive museums, with surf lessons and street art. With great food and fun for the grown-ups too, Newcastle can turn it on for every member of the crew.

Go coastal

Get the kids together for a walk along the coast or, better yet, hire electric bikes and cycle it. They’ll see the Newcastle Memorial Walk (a section adorned with steel silhouettes of soldiers) and amazing views from various viewing platforms. The Memorial Walk connects to Bathers Way, a walk from family-friendly Nobbys Beach to Merewether Beach, where the ocean baths are a great place to cool off.

People riding bikes along Macquarie Pier at Nobbys Beach, Newcastle. Image credit: Destination NSW
Newcastle’s coastal tracks offer all kinds of family fun. Image credit: Destination NSW

Tour the tunnels

Newcastle has a big military history, and Fort Scratchley is the place to explore it. Built on Flagstaff Hill in the 1880s, the fort is now a museum, and the best bit is touring its underground tunnels. An expert volunteer will lead you down narrow stairs and hallways and into the network of tunnels for a deep dive into local history. For extra excitement, time your trip with the fort’s daily 1pm gun firing.

A volunteer in army uniform shows a display to tourists on a guided tour of Fort Scratchley, Newcastle. Image credit: Eluminate Media
Tour the fort and the tunnels at Fort Scratchley. Image credit: Eluminate Media

Adventure in the outdoors

Just a short drive from central Newcastle, you’ll find Blackbutt Reserve, a sprawling bushland attraction full of wildlife exhibits and kid-friendly outdoor activities. You can go for bush walks, have a picnic lunch (there are free barbecues), feed the emus and see a reptile show. There are two interactive playgrounds, with musical instruments, rope courses, swings, slides and an adventure tower, to really burn off energy. Plus, kids can get activity packs with scavenger-hunt clues and puzzles to add to the fun.

A koala in a tree fork at Blackbutt Reserve, Newcastle.
Catch up with koalas at Blackbutt Reserve.

Get to the museum

Newcastle Museum is an interactive museum guaranteed to keep little ones entertained. There are activities in the main exhibition spaces as well as hands-on science fun to be had at the Supernova and toddler-friendly Mininova sections. Kids can walk under a massive globe, make a tornado or play in a magnetic field. Check the program for special science shows during school holidays.

A family standing under a 5-metre globe at the Newcastle Museum. Image credit: Destination NSW
Newcastle Museum has heaps of fun science activities for kids. Image credit: Destination NSW

Hit the surf

Newcastle is a surfing town, so get the kids riding the waves with some surf lessons. Several local surf schools offer family surf lessons that cater to all ages and abilities. They are run by pros who know the best beaches to learn at, so even groms as young as five can learn the basics and hit the waves. If you can’t make it to a surf lesson, or would rather something calmer, take the kids to the Mereweather Ocean Baths for a wave-free dip in the water.

Aerial view of water and sand and people enjoying Nobbys Beach, Newcastle. Image credit: Destination NSW
Nobbys Beach is one of Newcastle’s most popular beaches. Image credit: Destination NSW