Newcastle is a cosmopolitan, artsy city with heaps of beautiful beaches and a large working harbor. Since Newcastle's discovery by European settlers it has been a penal settlement, pioneer town and industrial base (coal and steel). It's now the second-largest city in New South Wales (after Sydney) and the seventh-largest city in Australia.
The beaches are the draw for Novocastrians and visitors. Nobbys, Newcastle, Bar, Dixon Park, Merewether and Stockton are all patrolled. Nobbys Beach marks the start of the Bathers Way, a 3 mile signposted coastal walk that extends to Merewether Beach (site of Surfest, the country's longest running international surfing competition).
There are several historic buildings around Newcastle, such as Christ Church Cathedral, seat of the (Anglican) Bishop of Newcastle, Fort Scratchley, the old Customs House, City Hall, the Longworth Institute (late 19th century) and the University House (late 1930s).
Blackbutt Reserve is just 5 miles from the Central Business District. There are 450 acres of bushland - trails, a bat habitat, boardwalk with kangaroos, wombats, koalas and birds, and a restful picnic area.
Less than an hour's drive inland from Newcastle is the Hunter Valley, the renowned wine-making area. Barrington Tops, a national park situated on the Gloucester Ranges, is less than a two-hour drive from Newcastle.
Like much of central and northern New South Wales, Newcastle's climate is oceanic/humid subtropical. Summers (December to February) are warm, daily temperatures range between 82 and 90 F, and winters (June to August) are mild, with temperatures between 55 and 65 F. Autumn (March to May) gets most of the rain.
Best Time to Fly to Newcastle
December to January is the peak season in Newcastle. Other high-season times are April (graduation time at the University of Newcastle), Surfest (April/May), Newcastle Jazz Festival (August), This Is Not Art (arts and media festival - October), Mattara Festival (late September/early October). Whale-watching season starts in June and runs until October. For surfers, the biggest swells are in winter.
The winter months (June to August) are, in general, low season, however, this is whale-watching and surfing season.
Getting around Newcastle
Car-rental companies are available at the airport. Port Stephens Coaches travel from the airport to Newcastle Railway Station every hour or so. There are also other shuttle bus services and taxis available.
A fare-free zone operates (seven days a week, 7:30am to 6pm) and extends from Selma Street in the west, north to the Tree of Knowledge corner (Hannell Street Wickham), east to the beaches then along King Street. The zone loops south into Darby Street and along Bull Street, then back to King Street. Newcastle Buses & Ferries operates the ferry service from the Central Business District to Stockton. A car is necessary if you're intending to get around the Hunter Valley.
Newcastle Travel Information
- The Hunter Region Botanic Gardens, 30 minutes from Newcastle, cover 346 acres, much of it natural bushland. The Botanical Collections are arranged into several themed gardens such as Australian plants for the home garden, succulents, plants of the Hunter Region, and Australian arid plants.
- The Hunter Valley Gardens is another popular spot. There are 10 themed gardens including a sunken garden, Chinese garden, and, for the littles, a Story Book Garden with much-loved characters such as Humpty Dumpty and Little Bo Peep. The gardens are in Pokolbin, an hour from Newcastle.
- The Ocean Baths were opened in 1922 and the Merewether Ocean Baths are the largest ocean baths complex in the Southern Hemisphere. Another popular spot with locals is the Bogey Hole at the bottom of King Edward Park. It's an ocean pool, which was carved out of the rock by convicts for the bathing pleasure of Major James Thomas Morisset at the start of the 19th century.
- At the Maritime Museum on Honeysuckle Drive visitors can explore the history of the region (open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm).
- Darby Street is a great shopping street with eclectic boutiques. It's also a fantastic place to grab some lunch. Beaumont Street is also packed with good restaurants. Has an ethnic flavor. Honeysuckle Wharf has become a popular, bustling, site. There are 50 hectares in total, a promenade along the waterfront, parklands, restaurants and live entertainment.
Flights to New South Wales
This is useful information about Newcastle Airport
More useful information about Newcastle Airport
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- Want to visit the capital city? It's little-known Canberra; not Sydney or Melbourne.
- Some of Australia's six states are New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia.
- The off season in Australia is June through August when winter is in full effect.