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. Once known as the 'steel city', thanks to the BHP steelworks that was the biggest employer here until its closure in 1999, Newcastle has metamorphosed into a highly liveable, buzzing city with top-drawer café and culinary cultures.
It's 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 rates high on inspiration, innovation and inventiveness. If you're more beach-bunny than artist, your needs are well covered by the three distinctly different beaches here, from Nobbys in the north to Merewether in the south. They're linked by Bathers Way, a spectacular three-hour coastal walk, so there's something to get you out and active, too.
Where to find the best happy hours in Newcastle
Get the lowdown from a local on the best spots to end a day in the harbour city - without breaking the bank.
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 Gregson Park in the suburb of Hamilton, giving Newcastle a fashion- and design-focused haven and a platform for artists, musicians and creative types to sell clothing, accessories, leatherware, jewellery and more. They also run regular flea markets and night street food markets around town – make sure you check what's on the schedule during your visit!
Underground Epicureans opens in new window run food tours of Newcastle, where the trail takes you to a different, favourite restaurant for each dish. Enjoy an ambulatory long lunch in the foodie hotspot of the east end, or a breakfast trail that lets you explore a charming corner of the city. A great way to discover the locals' favourite dining spots.
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 Birubi Point, Bar Beach Cliff, King Edward Park or Redhead Beach.
Into the blue
Architecturally breathtaking, the Art Deco-style 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 and a magnet for Art Deco aficionados. And it really is a magnificent place to swim!
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 and snack on French fare – délicieux!
Travel time 25 minutes
Taxi Approx A$65
Shuttle bus A$40 (one person), A$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 A$4.60 (adult), A$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.Back to top
NSW Transport runs Newcastle’s public transport system, Newcastle Buses and Ferries opens in new window, consisting of a comprehensive bus network around the city and suburbs, and ferry services between Stockton Wharf and Newcastle Wharf. The city centre is a Fare Free Bus Zone between 7.30am and 6.00pm, seven days a week.
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