The second largest city in New South Wales, Newcastle is the gateway to the Hunter Valley. Several festivals are held each year such as This Is Not Art, national festival of new media and art as well as The Shoot out, a film festival where attendants make a film in 24 hours. The home of Silverchair, pristine beaches, gorgeous scenery and more, Newcastle is a holiday dream.
Newcastle: Living History, Vibrant Present
The second oldest city in Australia, Newcastle mixes contemporary art galleries, heritage buildings and a thriving surf culture.
To get to know Newcastle, then and now, travellers can take part in a number of self-guided walking tours, visit some of the best regional museums in the country or hop aboard a historical tram replica. After all your exploring, unwind at one Newcastle’s beaches. Ride the waves, learn to surf, or do some laps at a sheltered rock pool.
Holiday rentals in Newcastle are as diverse as the city’s activities. Opt for stylish apartments in the city centre, sprawling villas high above the ocean or charming flats steps from the beach of your choice.
Arts & Culture in Newcastle
As a breeding ground for many Australian artists, there are plenty of ways for visitors to soak up the Newcastle arts scene. Start off at the Newcastle Art Gallery, which features 5000 works, including numerous pieces by artists from the Hunter region. This is one of the most prominent regional galleries in Australia.
If you would like to focus on Aboriginal art, head to the indigenous art gallery, Outback Art, set within a historical stone cottage that was built in 1852. There are over 1500 works of art, many produced locally.
A number of smaller galleries line the streets of Newcastle, and public artworks and displays add to the city’s reputation. A favourite with families is the Watt Street light show. Every evening, the oldest street is lit up with projected images telling Newcastle’s story.
Newcastle Walking Tours
Newcastle is very walkable. To get to know your surrounds, there are several self-guided walking tours, each focusing on a different aspect of the city.
Find out more about the convicts who helped build Newcastle by taking the Convict and Industry Walking Tour, or view the pieces of public art spread out across the city as you undertake the Artists’ City Walking Tour.
To discover the Newcastle waterfront, opt for the Shoreline Walking Tour, which affords some of the best views over the harbour and far down the coast. Along the way, stop at one of the beaches to cool off.
For details about these, and other, self-guided tours, head to the Newcastle Museum or Visitor Information Centre, where you can pick up a map. These walks take roughly 3 hours to complete at a leisurely pace.
Discover Newcastle’s History
Start off at the Newcastle Museum for exhibits discussing Newcastle’s heritage, from Aboriginal culture to European immigration, Newcastle’s involvement in the World Wars, and even natural history. View the permanent collections detailing the different sides to Newcastle’s history or catch a temporary exhibit.
Delve deeper into Newcastle’s offshore heritage at the Newcastle Maritime Centre. This museum is set within a refurbished historic wharf building. Among other themes, learn about shipwrecks and the significance of the Hunter River for the community.
Relive Newcastle’s history by hopping aboard Newcastle’s Famous Tram, a replica of the trams that once carried Newcastle residents around the city. The tram circuit covers the beach and CBD, complete with commentary on Newcastle, then and now. On weekends, the tram takes visitors out to the Hunter Valley for wine tours.
For history with a view, visit Fort Scratchley Historic Site, the city’s original fort built in 1880. Join a group tour or simply do some whale watching or snap shots of the coastline, Nobbys Lighthouse and the Newcastle Harbour.
Newcastle Beaches & Surfing
A short way from Newcastle’s city centre, you will find a series of swim and surf beaches. As you will soon discover, Newcastle’s surf culture is well developed. Favourite surf spots include Newcastle Beach and Merewether Beach, setting of Surfest, one of the world’s oldest surfing festivals.
If you’re new to the craft, take some lessons, as each beach has its own surf school. Surfers of all skill levels can also head to Nobby’s Beach, with its many different breaks catering to all surfers. This stretch of sand is patrolled throughout the year. With sheltered areas, Nobby’s is also a great swim beach for families with young children.
Another Newcastle swimming spot is Bar Beach, with a rock pool for the kids. Beyond the sand are a shaded picnic areas and a kiosk for snacks. Most of Newcastle’s beaches are steps from restaurants, from casual eateries to trendy bars and upscale establishments, convenient for refuelling without losing sight of the ocean.
Getting to Newcastle
Newcastle’s airport, with direct flights to and from all major Australian cities, is located around 25 minutes from the city centre. Driving to Newcastle from Sydney takes about 2 hours, and driving from Brisbane is an 8-hour journey along the coast. A train and bus service also connect Sydney to Newcastle.