The south-western Newcastle suburb of Kotara, about 7km from the CBD, borders Blackbutt Reserve, an oasis of 180ha in the middle of suburbia.
The reserve's blackbutt forest, woodland and rainforest pockets is home to a wide variety of native animals and birds and has barbecue areas, aviaries, a koala exhibit, duck ponds and even sensory trails.
Kotara is also within minutes of one of Newcastle's major regional shopping facilities, Garden City Centre. A short journey to the east takes you to the large Glenrock State Recreation Area whose bushclad slopes flows down to Little Redhead Point and the ever-popular Dudley beaches. Lookouts above the recreation area offer splendid views north to the busy port and the mouth of the Hunter River.
Spend a few minutes driving south and you’ll be on the northern shores of the huge aquatic playground of Lake Macquarie - four times the size of Sydney Harbour - where fishing, prawning swimming, boating and sailing are part and parcel of the simple joys of life.