Newcastle is no small town, in fact, it is New South Wales’ second-largest city. During your visit, you won’t be short of unique experiences with some of Australia’s sought-after beaches, national parks, heritage buildings and a thriving art scene.
The history of Newcastle stems back to the 18th century when European settlers and convicts arrived to mine coal. The area was originally home to the Awabakal and Worimi peoples who named it Muloobinba, after the indigenous plant mulubin, and it translates to “place of the edible sea fern”.
Just 170 km from Sydney, you can take a two-hour drive or catch a train into Newcastle in 2.5 hours. Alternatively, fly directly into Newcastle Airport, where there are numerous transport options to keep you moving and exploring the city.
Nobbys Lighthouse and Cottages
Established in 1854 for the safe movement of sea vessels into the Hunter River, Nobbys Lighthouse remains a key piece of operational infrastructure. The lighthouse’s cottages, which once provided accommodation to the defence of Newcastle, are now available to explore as you look through photos and information on the history of the lighthouse.
Newcastle Memorial Walk
Spanning 450m from Bar Beach to the Strzelecki Lookout, the Newcastle Memorial Walk offers spectacular cliffside views of Newcastle’s coast. The steel structure was built in tribute to the region’s ANZACs and steel-making heritage.
A focal point each year between February and March for the international Surfest event, Merewether Beach is a great spot to learn how to surf from experienced surfers or just sit back and enjoy the superb ocean view.
The oldest ocean pool on the east coast of Australia was built in 1819 for the personal use of the Commandant of Newcastle, Major James Thomas Morisset. Known as an Instagrammer’s dream, this Newcastle attraction makes for an enjoyable dip and photo opportunity. The best time to go is between low and high tide.
Once the Newcastle Police Station, the Lock-Up is now an award-winning independent multi-disciplinary contemporary arts space and creative inner-city hub. Programs at the Lock-Up include exhibitions, events, site-specific installation, and performances, creative talks, workshops and more which all aim to challenge its audience and promote diverse cross-platform and experimental practices.
Visit one of Newcastle’s most spectacular vantage points and explore its external grounds, galleries, and static exhibitions or book the Tunnel Tours and gain unique insights into the site’s history. At 1PM every day, you can experience the seafaring traditional of gunfire that allowed sea captains to set their timepieces and navigational instruments.
Christ Church Cathedral
It stands as one of the great cathedrals and most imposing buildings in Australia. The Christ Church Cathedral is a beautifully preserved piece of Newcastle’s history to learn about, and its tower presents a great spot to experience a 360-degree view of the entire city.
Something for the whole family, Newcastle Museum has a permanent exhibition showcasing the past, present, and future of Newcastle. There is also an interactive science exhibition, and several temporary exhibitions and shows that are always interesting and engaging.
Earp Distilling Co.
Care for a little gin? Experience a guided spirit tasting, distillery tour or a day gin class at Earp Distilling Co. Spanning 6 generations, it is one of Australia’s oldest and innovative family-run businesses. They also have a delicious tapas menu, making for a perfect pre, post or dinner destination.
Explore the bushwalk trails and be sure to visit the animal boardwalk where you have the chance to hold reptiles and other animals at the demonstration shows. Pack a picnic and make a day of it!
Hunter Wetlands National Park
Spend some time in nature and take a guided kayak tour of the Hunter Wetland National Park. The sky and atmosphere are busy with the sights and sounds of the parks numerous bird species. Led by guides that know about the wetland’s stories and history, you are sure to have a unique experience here.
Are you a Newcastle local with any suggestions we should include? Let us know!
Looking for more destination guides for regional Australia? Check out our staff picks for Bendigo, Eurobodalla, and Wollongong.