Originally the destination for the worst-behaved convicts in the 1800s, Newcastle has taken it all in stride and is thriving as a vibrant cultural epicentre with just a hint of its mischievous past. For a high-end boutique city with a laid-back beach-bum vibe that is little more than an hour from Sydney, whatever you want from Newcastle the Novocastrians have you covered.
Immerse yourself in the culture of Newcastle and admire work by some of Australia’s finest artists – including Brett Whiteley, Sidney Nolan and Russell Drysdale – at the Newcastle Region Art Gallery. Soak up the sun and relax by the city at Bar Beach, then party into the wee hours of the morning with a local craft beer at the Queen’s Wharf Brewery.
Newcastle's Top 10
10. Hunter River Cruises Sail away the afternoon through the middle of Newcastle Harbour.
5. Newcastle Maritime Museum Set sail through some marvellous maritime memorabilia – including a fascinating old captain’s log.
9. Newcastle Surf School You’ll be hanging 10 like a pro in no time down on Nobby’s Beach.
4. Blackbutt Reserve Chock full of nature trails and Aussie wildlife, this is a great place to take the kids.
8. Newcastle Regional Museum Meander through some killer memorabilia with a Newcastle zest.
3. Tram Tour For some local flavour, jump on the back of a tram and take a tour of Newcastle’s pristine coastline and historical sites, plus vineyard tours on weekends.
7. Lass O’Gowrie Hotel This here pub is the oldest in Newcastle – and the heart of the local music scene.
2. Darby Street Shopping A plethora of boutiques and to-die-for vintage stores, with cafés and restaurants thrown in.
6. Queens Wharf Tower A stunning 360° view that is well worth the 180-step climb (honest!)
1. Fort Scratchley A vital defensive position during WWII, and now one of Newcastle’s best vantage points.
For Australia’s biggest surf comp and a massive festival to boot, drift your way along to Surfest in March.
For an arts-filled day in the name of social justice, march on down to the Cultural Stomp festival in May.
For every September since the early 1960s, the Mattara Festival has graced the foreshore with local colour.
Despite the name, you can check out the best emerging Aussie artists, writers, musicians and all sorts of media goodies at the annual This is Not Art festival in September/October.
Newcastle really comes into its own under the festive glow of Christmas at Carols By Candlelight each December.
When To Go
Newcastle is quite warm all year, but if you are looking for some hot beach weather, December and January are your best bets.
Winters in Newcastle are generally mild, averaging around 17ºC (63ºF).
For an all-round nice time, spring is the go.
CityRail runs regular services between Sydney and Newcastle.
There is also a fantastic bus network around the city, and a free service along the main streets during the day.
If you’re just coming for a day or two to relax by the coast, the easiest way to get about is to drive.
The exquisite Hunter Region of New South Wales is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Australia. Vineyards galore, fine restaurants and bucolic country charm draw millions to places like Pokolbin, Broke-Fordwich and the Wollombi Valley every year. Despite the buzz and current era of prosperity however, the region would not be quite the same if not for the city of Newcastle.
The urban nerve center of the Hunter has a sordid past as a maximum security prison colony. While that legacy is a distant memory, it colors present-day Newcastle with a tolerable amount of mischief. All in all, the city is a laid-back, vibrant hub of arts and culture, with a full festival calendar and scenic coastline to boot. Whether you soak in Art Deco ocean baths, kite surf on Nobbys Beach or sun on Bar Beach, Newcastle is never dull. Explore the adjacent city of Lake Macquarie and other pretty coastal suburbs to round out the Newcastle experience.
Attractions & Activities
Restaurants & Nightlife
Newcastle has a humid subtropical climate, with favorable weather throughout most of the year. A mild rainy season runs from February to June.
- Summer (November to February) 16-26°C
- Fall (March to May) 12-25°C
- Winter (June to August) 8-18°C
- Spring (September to October) 11-22°C
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