The seaside city of Newcastle may not match up to the size and grandeur of Sydney, but Australia’s second-oldest city has lots to offer for the traveller who is ready to go beyond the usual. Superb surf beaches, historical architecture, friendly locals, sun-drenched climate and picture perfect sunsets are only one part of its charm. It also boasts of fine dining, funky bars, quirky boutiques, a diverse arts scene and a laid-back attitude that combine together to make it well worth a couple of days of your time.
We visited Newcastle on a balmy winter weekend, in the mid of June. I would love to share with you the things we loved about Newcastle and why we would love going there again.
Top things to see in Newcastle
Fort Scratchy has been an important part of Newcastle’s skyline since 1882. The best part about it is it overlooks Nobbys beach and has an impressive presence. It was originally the site of Australia’s first colonial coal mine, using convict labour. It was located strategically, high above the harbour, making it perfect for a defensive fort, at a time of fears of attack by Russia.
During World War II, Fort Scratchy became Australia’s only coastal fortification to fire on an enemy vessel, when a Japanese submarine attacked Newcastle, in June 1942.
Opening times: Open daily except Tuesday (10am to 4pm), tours of the fort, depart regularly, and the firing of the gun takes place at 1pm.
My first impression of Horseshoe beach was that it was a dog-friendly beach with fantastic views. Horseshoe Beach allows dogs to enjoy a run and a splash in the ocean without the restriction of a leash.
Winter or summer, Nobbys Beach remains among the favourite beach destinations in New South Wales. (It’s also considered the safest among Newcastle’s beaches.)
Whether you want to go for a long walk, or surf for pleasure, this place is perfect for you. Just recently, 608 surfers gathered here to steal the Guinness World Record for the longest line of surfboards – and to nobody’s surprise, the eager Novocastrians won.
Take your camera to the lighthouse, marvel at the panoramic view from its vantage point and take a picture of the surrounding areas. The earlier you go, the better – especially during the summer.
Whale sighting during their annual migration
We went in the peak of winter, just the right time to go if you want to spot whales. And did we get to see them? Oh yes! We were lucky and how. It is an absolute delight to be able to check out whales as you walk on the waterfront.
Christ church cathedral
Beachfront walk 3-5kms
Walk from Newcastle beach to Nobbys Lighthouse via Newcastle Ocean Baths and Nobbys beach
Where to stay:
I highly recommend staying at the Chifley Apartments Newcastle. This serviced apartment was not only cozy but perfectly located, facing the Newcastle beach. It was well equipped as well, with a fridge, kitchenette, heater, TV and wardrobe with all essentials. We chose this as it acted as the perfect base to explore the town of Newcastle, on foot.
How to reach there:
Newcastle is just two hours drive north of Sydney and is accessible from the M1, Pacific Highway, New England Highway and the Golden Highway. There are multiple daily train services (2.5 to 3 hours) between Newcastle and Sydney’s Central Station.