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Food for the body on menu at Blackbutt Reserve

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A new café and environmental education space will take centre stage as Blackbutt Reserve undergoes a $3 million makeover.

The multi-purpose community-focused facility is expected to provide an enhanced experience for the more than 150,000 people who visit City of Newcastle’s (CN) 182-hectare nature park annually.

Construction should begin next month.

Kingston Building director Matt Howard, Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, City of Newcastle assistant project manager Rachael Evans, Councillor Margaret Wood, Blackbutt and Natural Areas Manager Andrew Staniland at Blackbutt Reserve.

The announcement comes after councillors voted to accept a tender for the project at their meeting on Tuesday 27 March.

It’s understood the development will replace the existing temporary kiosk and include a cafe with an undercover dining and seating area, as well as an adaptable space where community and school groups can gather, stage events or learn about the environment.

“As the green heart of our city, Blackbutt Reserve welcomes countless locals and visitors each year who take advantage of the picturesque walking trails, unique native wildlife exhibits and family-friendly playgrounds,” Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“The construction of this multi-purpose premises and cafe will improve an already popular attraction and offer a space for all members of our community to relax and enjoy the surroundings, with an accessible design catering for people with diverse mobility and other sensory needs.

“This project will deliver one of the final stages of our $10 million investment to deliver the Carnley Avenue Recreation Area Masterplan from the Blackbutt Plan of Management, that I developed more than a decade ago with the community after fighting to save this wonderful asset.”

Cr Nelmes said CN was continuing to deliver quality facilities, with new and redeveloped dining destinations currently in the pipeline as part of the expanded Newcastle Art Gallery, the Bathers Way project at South Newcastle Beach and the Harbour Foreshore Masterplan.

“By investing in these ventures, we’ll continue to make our recreational and cultural facilities welcoming places for everyone, while also helping to support new jobs and opportunities for hospitality operators in our community,” she added.

A new operator is also being sought for the café at Lambton Park, which will undergo a major renovation, while the refurbished kiosk at Dixon Park Beach has been incredibly popular since it reopened in 2022.

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