The second-largest city in New South Wales and the sixth-largest in Australia. It is located at the mouth of the Hunter River. It is known, quite reasonably, as the ‘gateway to the Hunter Valley’ and certainly is the commercial, administrative and industrial center of the region.
It has numerous beaches, a rich heritage of Victorian architecture, a fascinating early convict history and a substantial number of excellent restaurants and upmarket accommodation options.
Historically a coal and steel town (exploiting the excellent harbor at the mouth of the Hunter River and the vast deposits of coal under the Hunter Valley) it has had to reinvent itself in the past two decades.
Today it is a modern city with an elegant and updated harbor foreshore (lots of chic restaurants and pleasant boardwalks) and enough attractions to keep an interested visitor involved for at least a week.
Australia’s second oldest city, ‘Newie’ as it is affectionately known, is just a two-hour drive north from Sydney in the eastern state of New South Wales.
Like Sydney, Newcastle is bound by a harbor and glorious beaches, but its population of just under 300,000 makes it a quieter option for a weekend getaway or holiday. It is also the gateway to the Hunter Valley, one of Australia’s major wine regions.
The best way to explore the stunning Newcastle coastline is to take the Bathers Way, a scenic walk from historic Nobbys Head Lighthouse to Glenrock State Conservation Area. Stop for a swim at the art deco Newcastle Ocean Baths and the Bogey Hole, a rock pool built by convicts in 1819. I love adventure, specially ziplining! soar on zip-lines at the Treetop Adventure Park or learn to surf at the Newcastle Surf School.
Wildlife experiences include meeting koalas the cutest thing ever! at Blackbutt Reserve, or whale watching with CoastXP and Nova Cruises during the migration season from May to November.
Newcastle is a city of fabulous events too. The sporting calendar is jam-packed, from the biggest surfing festival in Australia, Surfest, in February to the Newcastle 500 supercars in November.
Music lovers also have regular concerts and the Newcastle Jazz Festival in August.
Do as the locals do and wander down to the nearest markets on a weekend. Held at Newcastle showground, the Newcastle City Farmers Markets is a meeting point for artisans. There are blacksmiths and jewelry makers, painters, photographers and toy makers. You’ll also find a vast selection of organic and conventionally grown foods including lamb, beef, pork, goat, trout, oysters, charcuterie and cured meats. Also check out the Hunt and Gather markets, a boutique designer hub where stall keepers offer antique and pre-loved designer clothes, jewelry, art and food.