Blackbutt Reserve has an interesting history

It grew from an ill-fated Kotara subdivision which floundered during the depression. Through the efforts of New Lambton Council the land was purchased for a public recreational reserve.

Joe Richley who was president of the Northern Parks and Playgrounds Movement for 20 years, was instrumental in 1934 in persuading New Lambton Council to buy 6ha of New Lambton bushland that became the basis of Blackbutt Reserve. More land was added to Blackbutt and Mr Richley and the movement fought attempts by many government sectors to acquire sections for redevelopment. Richley Reserve is named in honour of his contributions.

The land was placed in the trusteeship of Newcastle City Council on its inception in 1938.

Around 1963 the Council embarked on its Blackbutt program, and began the process of restoring the Reserve which had become badly overtaken by weeds.

Captive animal displays were introduced to the Reserve in the 1960’s and the barbecues and picnic tables were gradually added.

The maintenance and development of Blackbutt Reserve continued to be carried out by Newcastle City Council.

In 2014 work started at the Carnley Avenue Recreation Area on a new amenities building. During construction there was a discovery of an old mine shaft. Council conducted a comprehensive investigation into abandoned mines at Blackbutt Reserve and specifically at Carnley Avenue Recreation Area. There was no mention or documentation of the vertical mine shaft in this location in reports received from both a registered mine surveyor and a geotechnical consultant, nor was it shown on any plans of old mine workings from the Mine Subsidence Board. The shaft was discovered when the building contractor was trying to bore a hole for a concrete pier for the new amenities building.