Travel around 160 kilometres north of Sydney and you’ll reach the second largest city in the state of New South Wales. Nestled on the southern banks of the Hunter River, Newcastle prides itself on its coveted lifestyle.
Formally an industrial hub, this bustling city has shaken off its ho-hum roots to emerge as one of the most hip and happening cities in Australia. This place has always had fantastic beaches on its side, but now it also has a buzzing arts scene and effortlessly trendy café culture to match. Watch out Sydney, there’s a new capital of cool coming to take the crown.
Before you hit the beautiful beaches, take a walk on the cultural side of Newcastle. Newcastle Museum is a great start, with its excellent range of engaging historical and environmental exhibits all housed in a converted railway workshop. Next, head over to Fort Scratchley for a heritage tour and the chance to take in the best panoramic views in the city.
The imposing Christ Church Cathedral, which dates back to 1892, is also a worthwhile visit for architecture fans and those keen to see historic relics and treasures. Venture just outside of the city centre to Blackbutt Reserve, where visitors can get up close to the koalas, wallabies, reptiles and native birds that call this sweeping 182-hectare bush land reserve home.
Back on the coast, head to spectacular Nobbys Beach, a lovely strip of sand favoured by the locals. Surfers should make a beeline for the waves at Newcastle Beach, while those looking for calmer waters will enjoy the city’s ocean baths – Newcastle Ocean Baths and Merewether Oceans Baths will surely impress.
Eat and Drink
Newcastle’s burgeoning foodie scene is spread across a number of excellent eatery streets, where restaurants serve up modern Aussie fare and Mediterranean delights. The Boardwalk at Honeysuckle Wharf is the place to go for fine dining establishments and stylish bars with gorgeous water views.
Darby Street in Cooks Hill is a vibrant hub of more than 25 cafés, award-winning restaurants and cosy eating nooks, which all contribute to this region’s trendy and bohemian vibe. Beaumont Street in Hamilton is another solid eating and drinking precinct, with a cheerful pub scene and sidewalk cafés that invite guests to sit outside and watch the world go by.
Where to Stay
Many of the city’s prime accommodation options can be found around the water, with the harbour precinct and Newcastle Beach being hotspots. Choose from big name 4-star hotels offering coastal views perfect to wake up to each morning. If you’d prefer to mingle with the locals, the inner city heritage suburb of Cooks Hill has stylish cottages and serviced apartments on offer, which put you amongst charming Victorian terraces, corner pubs and bustling Darby Street.
Newcastle is a perfect shopping destination for those who love unique finds. Take all the time in the world to browse the many galleries and cute boutiques on Darby Street before breaking for coffee or lunch.
Head down to the harbour foreshore where Centenary Road hosts the celebrated Centenary Antique Centre. Antique lovers will have a field day discovering rare collectables and charming vintage jewellery, clothing and art.
Over in Civic Park, the monthly Olive Tree Market is the place to meet local artisans and pick up specialty wares, from fashion and handmade jewellery to ceramics, crafts, natural skincare and gourmet foods. If you’re in Newcastle on a Sunday, start your morning at the Newcastle Farmers’ Market for excellent fresh produce, tasty eats and a friendly, vibrant atmosphere.
Newcastle Like a Local
Make your way to the bottom of King Edward Park where you’ll find a hidden swimming gem named the Bogey Hole. Built by convicts in 1820, this historic ocean pool is favoured by the locals. Take a refreshing dip as waves crash up beside you. But remember, you didn’t hear it from us.