Lake Macquarie, Blackbutt, and Glenrock

This week I had planned to stay home and get a lot of writing done. Emily gets here next weekend so I won’t be getting much work done on our adventures. Thankfully life has a way of changing our plans. This week I had mini adventures in Lake Macquarie, the Blackbutt Reserve, and Glenrock State Conservation Area.

Lake Macquarie

After my big adventure in festivals last Saturday, I had planned to spend all day Sunday writing. However, Lynn, my host, offered to take me for a drive to Lake Macquarie. It was such a lovely day I took her up on it. So we went for a walk along the largest permanent coastal saltwater lake in the southern hemisphere.

It was quite lovely. Lynn told me there were sharks in the lake so I was a little disappointed we didn’t see any. However, we did see an Australasian Darter swimming after some fish. Someone thought it was a platypus. That would have been awesome.

After we walked a stretch of the lake, we went for a drive through Warners Bay. We saw the school where Lynn works. We also went to visit an art gallery. I found a beautiful piece I wanted but unfortunately, I don’t have $8000 laying around and would have no way of getting it home. It was called “Towards the End of Day” by John Morris.

After the art gallery, we headed to the Warners Bay Bowling Club for some lunch. Lawn bowls is very popular down here. It reminds me of bocce or boules.

The Warner’s Bay Sports Club has a fun lunch special. For $10 you get a main dish, a beer or wine, and a $1 Keno ticket. The food was really great. Lynn was the only one to have a winning Keno ticket. I lost and I still have no idea how the game was played. After lunch, we headed home and I actually got some work done.

Bats at Blackbutt

I spent most of the week writing. I felt really good about it. So when I finished one of my projects on Friday afternoon I caught the early bus back. As there were still two hours until sunset, I decided to go look for the flying foxes in Blackbutt.

The bats are on the trail map but I thought they’d be difficult to find. The first time I saw the map I was confused as to why flying foxes, what I thought of as flying squirrels, would be marked with a bat symbol… Duh Megan.

So I treked through Blackbutt to the furthest point on the map. I started scanning the trees for bats and kept getting fooled by really large, curled leaves. I didn’t need to try so hard. They were impossible to miss.

They made so much noise. You’d have to work really hard to miss them. Just listen:

I had so much fun taking their photos. It was pretty close to sunset so they were pretty active. I wanted to stay until the sunset to watch them all fly away but I knew what my mom would say about that idea. So I got a slew of photos and then headed back to Lynns. On the way back, I happened to find a colony of trapdoor spiders with all their front doors open.

I wonder where they all went but I didn’t stick around to find out. I headed out of the park and made it back before the sun set and 6 miles under my feet.

Fernleigh Track

On Saturday I went for an epic 13 mile walk. I had planned to go on a Meetup walk on Fernleigh Track to Glenrock Park several weeks ago but it was still raining. I think it was the day I originally explored Blackbutt. So today I decided to give it a go myself. I looked up the entrance to the track based on my location. What I didn’t pay attention to was the fact that the MeetUp was starting at the Adamstown Station because it was the beginning of the trail.

So I walked all the way down to the station and couldn’t figure out where the trail had gone. I made a left when I should have made a right. Thankfully, it was only about 1600m extra. So I finally got pointed in the right direction and headed off down the trail. The trail follows an old train line.

Including going through an old train tunnel.

It was a lovely, easy walk. When the houses disappeared, I thought I was getting close to Glenrock Park. Unfortunately, there are no markers to tell you which trails go into the park. So I walked past the entire park before I realized I missed it. Thank goodness I snapped a photo of the trail map.

I had made it all the way to Kahibah from New Lambton (not pictured on the map. I walked 1.5 miles before I made it to the trail).

Glenrock Conservation Area

Luckily, though, there was an entrance and car park for Glenrock at that end of the park too. So I walked over and checked out their map. (I added the stars so you can see where I went)

I really wanted to go down to see the fossilized forest but I had already come 6 miles and didn’t want to add that much to my trail. So I ended up taking the Yuelrabah trail down to the beach. It passed waterfalls and a really awesome lookout point.

You can check out the whole trail on Google Maps. To the right of the lagoon in this photo is an old Aboriginal Scout Camp. However, the trail took me down the left side of the lagoon. When I ended up at the beach, I was really excited to see so many smooth rocks on the beach. It was an interesting mix of sand and collections of rocks.

So I followed the beach south hoping I could walk to the petrified forest. Unfortunately, I would have had to cross a lot of rocks and go around a point to get there so I decided not to try. However, I did play in the tide pools. I found pufferfish,


And lots of snails.

There were also a lot of amazing shells to collect but I limited myself to just a few.

The Trek Back

After exploring the tidepools, it was time to head back. I had three options for the trip back. One, I could go back the way I came. I didn’t really want to do that as it would have been uphill in the wrong direction. Two, I could head up Hickson Track and see where the paragliders jump off. However, that trail was also very uphill and listed as “Difficult”. Three, I could walk up the beach to the Merewether Baths. I had wanted to check out the baths, ocean swimming pools, but that trail is only accessible at low tide. As luck would have it, it was low tide. So I set off in that direction.

As I walked along the beach, I found the remnants of an old train line that used to run through here. You can see old pieces of the rail bridge, tracks, and a tunnel.

It was quite surprising to see the tracks sticking out of the side of the cliffs. However, my attention was torn between the cliffs and the shoreline. The beach was beautiful with many rocky outcroppings.

I think I even found part of a train in the surf.

Further along the beach, I watched someone surfing behind a jetski. The driver had me really worried he was going to run up on the rocks a couple times.

However, he apparently knows how to chase after his surfer without running aground. Finally, after much shelling and bird watching, I eventually made it to the baths.

They are pools open to the ocean so they fill up with salt water and, as far as I can tell, are the same temperature as the ocean. I don’t like being cold enough to go for a dip. They came highly recommended for sightseeing, though, so I’m glad I finally got down to them.

From the Baths, I had a couple options. I could walk 3 miles home, try and catch a bus that went in the right direction, or walk over to Hunter Street where I knew I could catch the right bus. So I decided to walk a mile and a half over to the riverfront on Hunter Street and have lunch. I could have continued walking along the coast but that would have taken me up the Anzac Memorial Walk and I didn’t really want to go up another mountain. On my way from the Baths, I saw a man with a cat on his bike. What a funny idea.

After laughing at him, I cut through town and made it to the riverfront. I sat on the deck of a lovely restaurant called MoneyPenny. I have found it’s hard to find places to eat between 3-5 as most places close their kitchen after lunch. Thankfully the riverfront doesn’t seem to have that problem. So I enjoyed some lunch and a nice cold cider before catching the bus back home.

I walked more than 14 miles yesterday but I still got up at 8 to walk with Lynn and her friends in Blackbutt this morning. We had a nice walk followed by coffee at a cute place called Euro Patisserie. And so ended another weekend in Newcastle. I had said it would be adventure free, but I am not one to let a weekend go to waste. Next Saturday I head to Sydney to meet up with Emily and then the real adventure begins. I can hardly wait.

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