Newcastle is one of the oldest settlement sites in Australia… but its laidback surfy culture, cool bar scene and abundance of epic natural attractions make it a standout for a summer vaycay. Here are nine great reasons to add "Newy"laid to your summer holiday bucket list.
The City Meets the Seashore
It’s a city that’s famous for it’s harbour and for the fact that the streets of the CBD literally end at the seashore, but Newcastle is as much about the sum of its surrounding parts, as it is for the city itself. Sandboarding in Port Stephens, a sunset stroll along The Break Wall at Nobby’s Beach, wildlife spotting from any of the beautiful vantage points along the coastline, and a swim in the iconic Bogey Hole Ocean Baths are all must-dos on any visit.
And, when you tire of seeing the ocean from the shore, an eco-cruise down the Hunter Coastline, past Shark Bay and Moon Island, gives you a different perspective on the town and a chance to enjoy those cooling sea breezes.
Steal a Spot on a Crime Tour
As one of the oldest settlements in Oz, Newcastle has been home to some colourful characters and criminal types, so if you love your true crime, then this is the tour for you. Over 90 minutes you’ll slink down hidden laneways on the trail of infamous crimes that unfolded in the oldest parts of the city.
The Convict Lumberyard, the site of the original Newcastle gaol and Newcastle’s Cathedral are all on the agenda, but you’ll also be able to steal a look at some of the most scenic views in town as you relive the stories that the town wanted to forget.
From Wine to Whales!
Each June to October, Humpback Whales begin their epic migration along Australia’s east coast to the rich breeding grounds in the north, before returning south… and the hour-long trip from Newcastle to Port Stephen’s puts you in the box seat for some of the best whale spotting in the country. If the purse strings are a little tight, you can always perch along one of the many headlands in the Tomaree National Park.
Whilst up in the hinterland, summertime means harvest time in the nearby Hunter Valley and the warm days are cooled by summer storms and ocean breezes, making it the perfect spot to enjoy a local white. The Hunter is Australia’s oldest and best-known wine region with more than 150 wineries, but the region also produces fabulous cheeses, olives, and olive oil, making it a foodie’s delight.
Life is Beachy
As dawn breaks, surfers head down to catch a shore break; locals walk their pooches and early risers swim laps in the ocean baths. There are no less than six beaches, two ocean baths and the infamous Bogey Hole baths which were built by convicts, so swimmers are spoiled for choice.
Mereweather Beach is the most well-known of all the beaches surrounding Newcastle. On any given morning it’s a bustling hive of activity and a great spot to while away the hours. Nearby Stockton Beach not only holds the honour of being one of the biggest beaches in New South Wales (it’s 32km long and dotted with shipwrecks) but boasts huge dunes - some up to 30 metres.
Insider Tip: leave the car at home and jump on the Stockton-Newcastle ferry at Queens Wharf. It’s a 5-minute ferry ride to paradise.
A La Naturel
Glenrock State Conservation Area is a brilliant place to explore by foot or by mountain bike. Boasting more than 14km of purpose-built bike trails, you’ll wind your way through open forest and woodlands past beautiful, pristine beaches, waterfalls, and Leichardt’s lookout.
The tracks are graded - green circle for beginners and black diamond for advanced, so you’ll find a path to suit all skill levels. But, if mountain biking through pristine wild isn’t your thing, head to Barrington Tops - a three-hour drive from Newcastle - which is easily one of the most impressive national parks in the state and perfect for hiking.
Everything Old is New Again
The Lock-Up contemporary arts space and creative hub is housed in one of Newcastle’s finest heritage buildings - the old Newcastle Police station - and adds a splash of contemporary colour to the city’s history.
The building includes a purpose-built gallery, heritage-listed gaol cells, and an event and installation space in the gaol’s former exercise yard. Think contemporary art exhibitions, performances and talks and creative workshops all designed to add a little colour to your day.
Where Every Day Feels Like a Sunday Sesh
When it comes to themed bars to craft breweries, surf houses and cool hangouts, Newcastle really shines… and there are plenty of spots to sip craft beer and cocktails in the summertime. Undoubtedly one of the best bars is Coal and Cedar, a small prohibition-style speakeasy that’s accessed by a hidden doorway and special codes.
Uptowns serves cocktails and toasties and celebrates the 80s and 90s with a retro theme and old school games whilst The Koutetsu or Ginger Meg's are THE places to go for a late-night libation and The Rum Diary Bar is always a winner.
Top Tip: For summer, head to Zarabanda Bing Bing for their sunny outdoor terrace, live music, and some of the best cocktails in town.
Walk this way
If you’ve got a hankering for commanding coastline views and are keen to explore on foot, then consider walking, running, or scooting your way along The Bathers Way Walk. This 6km walk is easily one of the best coastal walks in New South Wales and links Merewether Ocean Baths to Nobbys Beach.
Take your time and soak in the view - there’s plenty of seating, viewing platforms at the top of Strzelecki lookout and shade at the various beach cafes enroute. This area is steeped in history from early Aboriginal settlements to more recent maritime history with shipwrecks and wartime defences.
Eat Up a Storm
Whilst fancy food done well is the staple of any summertime holiday, don’t underestimate the charm of grabbing fish, fresh from the sea, and crispy chips and eating it out of the paper under swaying palm trees.
That’s where Scotties shines. This small, non-descript seafood trattoria is a favourite with locals and regularly tops the list of best fish ‘n chips in down. Locals go for the atmosphere and visitors will love their commitment to sustainable seafood.
And, when the sight-seeing is done, head to Travelodge Hotel Newcastle for a great night’s sleep. The hotel is located on the city fringe and is just a short Uber or calorie-burning brisk walk to all the action.
** Peace of mind when you stay with us: Introducing Clean Touch. Note some activities listed may be subject to Covid restrictions. **