Behind the scenes at Blackbutt Reserve.

As one of Newcastle’s most popular open green spaces, Blackbutt Reserve is a haven for locals looking for COVID safe exercise options during lockdown.

Walking trails aren’t the only site of activity across the popular reserve.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Cr Peta Winney-Baartz with Blackbutt staff members (L-R) Beth Woodhouse with Romeo the snake, Abbey Johnston with Carla the tawny frogmouth, Jemma Gosper with Kirra the koala and Abbie Ferris with Frida the frilled-neck lizard.

Ongoing is essential work caring for animals and maintaining 182 hectares of bushland.

Blackbutt staff have continued to feed and care for the animals in the wildlife exhibits throughout lockdown, while City of Newcastle crews worked on $200,000 worth of improvement projects to enhance the facility’s natural environment and visitor experience.

Sadly, Blackbutt’s animal enclosures are closed until restrictions ease further.

Blackbutt Reserve is a jewel in the city’s crown, much-loved by locals and visitors alike,” Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

Looking after the environment and its inhabitants is no small task. Our rangers are responsible for two koalas, eight emus, 10 kangaroos, 19 wallabies, a dozen species of reptile, two species of frog, ‘Wally’ the wallaroo, ‘Sally’ and “Clyde” the wombats, and over 40 species of bird.

It’s a lot of mouths to feed every day and looking after all of them takes time and care. Our rangers work hard and should be commended because they do a wonderful job.”

Councillor Peta Winney-Baartz said City of Newcastle staff had been busy during lockdown maintaining the site and undertaking a range of improvement projects.

Throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, City of Newcastle staff have continued to undertake regular maintenance across the reserve to ensure it’s in top shape when it reopens to visitors,” Cr Winney-Baartz said.

They have also been using this time to deliver some significant projects, which will enhance the natural environment and visitor experience at Blackbutt now and into the future.”

Crews are installing two new irrigation systems at Richley Reserve and modernising the existing system, which will significantly improve water efficiency and the user experience of this area.

Work  starts soon on improving sections of the boardwalk that flow through the wildlife animal exhibits. The boardwalk project also incorporates replacement of supports at the koala enclosure.

Improvements to the carparks at Carnley Avenue and Richley Reserve are done, including line marking, wheel stops and new signage.

The gates at Blackbutt Reserve are open for groups of up to five fully vaccinated people to participate in outdoor recreation like picnics, in line with NSW Government advice.

To find out more about Blackbutt reserve, visit www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au