A dose of family fun was well overdue. We’d been completely focussed on the process of selling our little house so our quality time had been neglected.
After hearing about T’s love of bird life (his favourite part of Taronga was getting close to a pelican), a work colleague recommended we check out the Hunter Wetlands Centre. Husband had never been, and I’d last visited on a primary school excursion, so it was time to check it out.
On entry we were handed a map, marsh insect guide, dip-net and bucket, but we took the time to explore the Visitor’s Centre before getting our toes wet. There were heaps of great educational displays. The boys loved the animal tanks: T could’ve watched the baby crocodile and turtles for hours, and M was delighted by the Bearded Dragon which waved to him from its tank.
We followed the signposts down along the Discovery Walk and set up T’s dip-net in the reeds along the boardwalk. Husband and T had great fun analyzing the contents of the net and comparing them to the insect guide. No tadpoles, but lots of weird and wonderful little creatures swimming about in their bucket.
On the other side of the tree-lined river bank we found a terrific wooden Swiss Family Robinson-tree-house-meets-pirate ship- meets-playground. All four of us enjoyed climbing, sliding and discovering the animal carvings inside.
We then enjoyed a bushwalk, watching the birds swoop above and admiring the wild flowers. T was elated as we saw ducks, cranes, swans. ibises (ibii?) and his favourite – the pelican. the morning passed so quickly as we explored a few pathways and a duck sanctuary. Before we knew it, it was time to go: but there was still so much to explore, so we vowed to return soon.
Luckily we had time for one last play on the playground before we had to head home for lunch (but not before waving goodbye to our bearded dragon friend!).
It’s always a terrific family adventure when we’ve had a dose of fresh air and the boys have burnt off loads of energy: and the Hunter Wetlands fit the bill (pun unintended). I can see the Wetlands becoming a part of our adventure routine – especially as there is still loads to explore:
Where is it? The Hunter Wetlands Centre is located on forty-five hectares of swamp and marshland at Shortland (10 minutes from Newcastle CBD). It is dotted with walking tracks and boardwalks and is home to hundreds of species of bird and wild life.
Who’ll love it? Wild-life lovers of all ages. There’s plenty of space to run, a terrific playground (little ones will require full supervision) and BBQ facilities.
Don’t forget: Little explorers will need binoculars and (if you’re really keen) a magnifying glass and gumboots! You can pack a picnic or enjoy a meal at the Spoonbill Café. The Hunter Wetlands Center is not-for-profit and run by dedicated volunteers, so bring a donation or two to support the work of this wonderful educational and conservation facility.
There’s more: You can hire a bike and fully explore the grounds – or if you’re feeling adventurous: how about a Segway tour! There are also educational talks and experiences. Phew!
Cost: Family entry costs $15 (single tickets range between $2 – $5 per person),