Last week I shared our accessible Stockton Beach Holiday Park getaway. Wheelchair accessible accommodation is fantastic but what makes for a truly accessible holiday is a property which has suitable activities nearby, that all the family can enjoy. Stockton Beach Holiday Park is close to several attractions, most are free or low cost and accessible.
There was more to explore in the area but we simply ran out of time. Here are the things we did during our stay that I recommend.
FERRY STOCKTON BEACH – NEWCASTLE (and vice versa)
The ferry between Stockton Beach and Newcastle was a relaxing way to access Newcastle. It was a quick five minute ride across the harbour and BJ always loves catching public transport so he was extremely happy.
Arriving in Newcastle we were thrilled to find a level pathway skirting the edges of the waterfront. We enjoyed exploring the Hunter Street stores and cafes and then we headed to the Newcastle Museum which was about a 10 minute walk from the ferry.
The Newcastle Museum provided us with a fun afternoon. Entry is free which is always popular with parents and we felt it was a real gem. We were told it would only take us about 45 minutes to see everything but the kids were so taken with the science exhibits that we couldn’t see everything before the museum closed. There is something for all age groups at the museum from the Mininova soft play area for toddlers, the Supernova science centre which allows older kids and ahem, some adults, to participate in lots of fun hands-on science to the educational BHP experience which shares the steel making process and history.
The Newcastle Museum is open Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm. The museum is fully wheelchair accessible with good accessible restrooms. For more information about current exhibitions head to their website.
NEWCASTLE COMMEMORATIVE WALK
This walkway only opened in April 2015 so I was keen to try this brand new walk. It was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Anzac landing in Gallipoli. It acts as a memorial to the men and women of the Hunter region who served the community.
The walk is 450 metres long and winds its way along the cliff top offering fabulous views of the Newcastle and Hunter area and out to sea. The walkway joins the Strzelecki Lookout to Bar Beach. Wheelchair access is from the Strzelecki Lookout car park. There are disabled parking spaces at Strzelecki Lookout and although full when we arrived there seemed to be a fairly quick turnaround of cars. My tip is to wait it out if the car park is full.
For more information regarding this walk head to the Newcastle City Council website.
Cooks Hill surf club
At the base of the Newcastle Commemorative Walk there is Bar Beach which is home to Cooks Hill Surf Club. During our stay the beach conditions at Bar Beach were sadly not suitable to try the facilities offered by the surf club. One of our facebook friends shared the amazing facilities this surf club offers visitors. I haven’t come across another club with the same range of equipment as this club. On the Cooks Hill Surf Club website there is a tab, “Enabling Access.” Here is what the club has available as taken from their website –
“Cooks Hill Surf Club are delighted to be able to assist people with a disability to enjoy time on Bar Beach and in the surf.
Through generous donations and fundraising we are able to provide the use of the following facilities and equipment at the Club to enhance the enjoyment of our clients on the beach:
- Hoist and slings to enable transfer of beach goer into beach equipped wheelchairs
- Adult’s manual beach friendly wheelchair.
- Child’s manual beach friendly wheelchair.
- For the experienced, a beach suitable power chair.
- Ramps and matting.
We have club members trained to assist in the use of equipment to ensure the time spent at the beach is memorable and safe for carers and the user.
Depending on surf conditions we can offer this service at Bar Beach or possibly Horseshoe Beach in Newcastle Harbour.
Bookings are essential and we ask you to contact Local Mobility PH: 4956 9993 during weekday working hours to ensure that we have the appropriately qualified Surf Club members available to assist on the day.”
That is an amazing range of facilities.
Blackbutt Reserve was a wonderful surprise. It is one of those gems you find when travelling and think how lucky the locals are to have it on their doorstep.
Blackbutt Reserve occupies 182 hectares of bushland. We only had time to explore the wildlife exhibits but they were wonderful. Elevated wheelchair accessible boardwalks link the exhibits which include koalas, a wombat, stunning Australian birds and a few reptiles.
The fauna exhibit is free. There is a fee to park in the Carnley Avenue Reserve car park which is closest to the animals. There is the option to pay by the hour or the flat rate daily fee (at the time of writing this) is $5.
There are picnic tables, barbecues and a playground. This is not an inclusive playground but it does have a bird’s nest swing, a large wooden xylophone musical instrument at wheelchair height and a merry-go-round which some children may find okay to sit on.
Disabled parking is available close to the animal exhibit entry.
Blackbutt Reserve has koala encounters which occur at 2pm daily at a cost of $5.50 per person. Trained staff and volunteers present a talk about the koalas including information about their behaviour and habitat. Guests can then get up close with the koalas and have a pat and take a photo. This is so much cheaper than in animal parks. Bookings are not required for public koala encounters.
For more information about Blackbutt Reserve head to their website.
If you like the look of all these activities and wonder where to stay. Check out our blog on our accommodation at Stockton Beach Holiday Park.
I have left Fort Scratchley to the very last in this list as it is not fully accessible. The walk to the top where the canons are located is paved but steep and due to the historic nature of the buildings they have a step up into them and narrow doorways. I add it because for some families this may be doable and Hubby was certainly taken with the canons and views from the top. There is an accessible restroom and disabled parking bays. Bypass the first car park and go to the one closest to the entrance. This avoids one hill and there are marked disabled parking bays.
What do you think? Will you be adding Newcastle to your destinations in the future?
This is not a sponsored post.
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