Eclectic and ever-evolving city extraordinaire
Metropolitan Newcastle is the second most populated area in New South Wales. Located 162km north-east of Sydney, it’s the Hunter region’s leading city. Newcastle is the perfect place for creative types: from the Newcastle Jazz Festival to the This Is Not Art new media and arts event and Electrofringe, the National Young Writers’ Festival and an active youth music culture, Newcastle packs plenty of inspiration. The city was once known as the “Steel City” – a nod to the BHP Steelworks base – but has morphed into a highly liveable, buzzing city with top-drawer café and culinary cultures. Add the three distinctly different beaches here – from Nobbys in the north to Merewether in the south, which are linked by one great, three-hour coastal walk in the form of Bathers Way – and you’ve got a great place to check out, no matter how long you plan to stay.
Things to do
Big and stall
The Hunt and Gather Markets opens in new window are held on the third Saturday of each month at Newcastle East’s Pacific Park. The brainchild of sisters Gemma and Karla, the markets have given Newcastle a fashion- and design-focused haven and a platform for artists, musicians and creative types to sell clothing, accessories, leather ware, jewellery and more.
Underground Epicureans opens in new window is a “covert” group of hungry diners who regularly meet for dinner at secret locations, chosen at the whim of a selected local chef. Dinner venues remain under wraps until the “White Rabbit” discloses the destination. Follow the group on social media to join in the fun.
Here be giants
From late May to early November each year, the Newcastle coastline welcomes thousands of humpback whales as they undertake their annual migration from the Antarctic Southern Ocean to the warmer waters off Hervey Bay, Queensland. An estimated 20,000 humpbacks make their way along the beautiful coastline here and are best spotted from places like Birubi Point, Bar Beach Cliff, King Edward Park and Redhead Beach.
Into the blue
Architecturally breathtaking, the art deco Newcastle Ocean Baths is one of the city’s most enduring historical landmarks, dating back more than a century. This saltwater bathing complex is not just a magnificent place to swim, it has also long served as an open-air studio backdrop for photographers.
Better in French
Under a partnership between Alliance Française de Newcastle opens in new window and the Newcastle Film Society, Tower Cinemas Newcastle screens French films never before seen in Australia on one Friday a month from June to October. Before the screening, stroll through the little French market for délicieuse French fare.
Travel time 25 minutes
Taxi Approx AUD $65
Shuttle bus AUD $40 (one person), AUD $45 (two people) from 7am–7pm (enquire for prices at other times). Book through Newcastle Airport Information Services Desk on +61 (2) 4928 9822. Port Stephens Coach: every hour. One-way AUD $4.60 (adult), AUD $2.30 (child, 5-15 yrs); journey takes 40 minutes.Back to top
When to go
Newcastle boasts a subtropical/oceanic climate: summers are warm and winters are generally mild. Rainfall is heaviest in late autumn and early winter. This is truly a year-round destination, plus or minus a layer of clothing. There’s always something to do in “Newie”. If you’re a foodie, you’re covered, no matter what the weather; head to Newcastle's east, where you'll find the refurbished Great Northern Hotel; Sprocket, East End Enoteca, the one-hatted Bacchus and more. An exceptional site for filling your calendar year-round is hunterhunter.com.au.Back to top