Hunter Wetlands Centre

Nature Reserve in Newcastle

Transformed from a dump and abandoned sporting fields into a magnificent conservation sanctuary, this swampy centre is home to over 200 species of bird, including magpie geese, freckled ducks and egrets, and a huge diversity of animal residents. Extensive walking and bike trails criss-cross the site, or you can hire a canoe ($10/3 per adult/child for two hours, last hire 1.30pm) and paddle along picturesque Ironbank Creek.

Popular Segway tours ($65, Sundays, must be pre-booked) are also a fun way to quietly view the animals. The centre is off Sandgate Rd. To get here, take the Pacific Hwy towards Maitland and turn left at the cemetery, or catch the train to Sandgate and walk (10 minutes). There's a cafe on site (open 10am to 2pm weekdays, 9.30am to 2.30pm weekends).