24 Awesome Things to Do in Newcastle, New South Wales

Posted on 11 December 2015

When in Newcastle, do as the Novocastrians do.

Following that tall order will bring you unforgettable memories from unique trips and adventures as well as gastronomic delights.

It’s never too late to plan for an incredible journey around Newcastle, NSW. Here are 24  fantastic excuses to leave the couch and begin your expedition.

1. Take a step into the past at Newcastle Memorial Walk.

Newcastle-memorial-walk
Let’s begin with an activity that’s enjoyable, educational, and absolutely free.

Head out for a stroll at Newcastle Memorial Walk – a stunning piece of infrastructure dedicated for ANZAC heroes. Built to commemorate the centennial anniversary of ANZAC Gallipoli landing and the beginning of Newcastle’s steel-making industry – a journey to this coastal walkway lets you pay tribute to the men and women who dedicated their lives for Newcastle and the whole Australia. 

Novocastrians take pride in their magnificent 450-metre long walkway that oversees the wonderful panoramic view of the beaches, the ocean and the city. You will also find silhouettes of ANZAC soldiers and names of brave men and women who participated in the first world war.

It’s open to the public 24 hours everyday so there’s no excuse to miss this terrific walk.

2. Visit the koalas, kangaroos and more at the Blackbutt Reserve.

kangaroos_blackbutt_reserve
If you like a good nature walk, family picnics and the wildlife – Blackbutt Reserve is a must-see for locals and tourists alike.

Open everyday from 10am to 5pm, people from all ages can get close to the rich habitat of kangaroos, koalas, geckos, and more intriguing animal life without having to leave the city. You can choose to stay in a picnic spot, join a guided tour, or appreciate the wildlife exhibits and incredible encounters with various kinds of animals.

Everyone enjoys free entrance and great facilities for kids and adults. You only have to pay for parking. The walking tracks inside the reserve are also a good way to get fit.

3. Surf and Sightsee at Nobbys Beach and the Lighthouse.

Nobby's beach
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.

4. Go back in time at Fort Scratchley.

Fort-Scratchley
History buff or not, you’d be intrigued to know that Fort Scratchley fired on an invading naval vessel on June 8, 1942 and the fort itself has more than a century of history to boast.

This famous coastal defence and fortification has been turned into a museum. Children below four years old can join the guided tours for free. Kids from 4-14 will have to pay $6.50 while adults pay $12.50 if they wish to participate in the tours. They are scheduled six days a week (it is closed on Tuesdays) from 10am to 4pm.

People visit the fort for varying reasons – some use the grounds for recreation, picnic, or kite flying. Enthusiastic whale watchers also hang around this place during the winter. Discerning locals come here for the stunning view of the ocean and the grand cityscapes.

5. Soar high at Newcastle’s skyline.

soar-high-in-newcastle

Sometimes, the best adventures are created while you’re free-falling at about 200km/hr from a height of 14,000 feet.

Aching to cross off skydiving on your bucket list? Want a breathtaking view of Newcastle, NSW from the sky? Or simply craving the adrenaline rush of a 60-second drop from the sky? Then Skydive the Beach and Beyond is something you’ve always been waiting for.

The skydive package comes with free video and pictures to relive the exhilarating moment and show proof of your bravery to your family and friends.

5. Seek sunshine, the ocean and new mates at Merewether Ocean Baths.

Merewether-ocean-baths
Merewether is a quiet suburb of Newcastle known for its 100 metres by 90 metres communal yet well-maintained swimming pool.

Nothing fancy here – everything from numbered dive spots, the length, and the depth water has been designed for a reasonable function. Kids have their own area – in the shallow waters- while adults get to enjoy a large portion of the public bathing area. If you are not in the mood for an olympic-level of swim, you can take repetitive steps at stairs to meet your fitness goals.

The best thing about this destination is the gathering of locals and visitors stopping by for a swim – a cultural aspect that is unique in this part of Newcastle.

6. Hop aboard the replica of Newcastle’s popular tram.

During the rise of coal mining in New South Wales, the working class used to ride a tram to get around the city.

You can relive this era and familiarise yourself with the city sights by boarding the famous tram. Visitors can enjoy looking back into the past while exploring the city’s beautiful spots; hopping from one tourist destination to another.  Getting on the tram is a novel and memorable way of sightseeing – from Newcastle’s famous landmarks to the Hunter Valley Vineyards.

This tourist icon is available for hire – so consider it in celebrating a milestone in your life such as weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and more. Call 0418 307 166 for bookings and confirmation of operating hours.

7. Explore wines and winemaking in Newcastle and the Hunter Region.

Newcastle sits near some of the best winemaking spots in Australia. In Hunter Valley alone, there are more than 150 of them – that’s a lot for you not to even visit one or two.

Wineries are picturesque destinations on their own. But if you love tasting various types of wines, then you’re in for a double treat. Time out Australia rounded up 10 of the best vineyards in the Hunter Valley that you shouldn’t miss.

Learn about the top-notch types of wine that earned the love of Aussies and take fantastic photos during winery tours at the Hunter Region.

8. Take a tour inside and around Christ Church Cathedral.

Photo by www.abc.net.au

Photo by www.abc.net.au

The Christ Church Cathedral is among the most popular landmarks in Newcastle – it’s simply unmissable.

What else makes it remarkable was its formidable history. It survived the Japanese attack in 1942 and a devastating earthquake in Newcastle in 1989. From this seemingly unshakable place of worship, you also get a magnificent overlooking view of Newcastle.

Before visiting, find out more about the services, news and events here by checking their website at www.newcastlecathedral.org.au.

9. Window shop along the bustling Darby Street.

With all the holiday shopping demands you have to meet, you want a place to get all you need at one stop. Well, when in Newcastle, Darby Street has you covered.

Looking for the best party dress or an awesome gift for your loved ones? The shopping district that is Darby Street has delightful range of items you’d love to take home. Don’t forget your shopping list to guide you through this dizzying hub of all great gifts.

Whether you want to hit a hip bazaar or a nifty cafeteria, Darby Street offers a lot of great possibilities.

10. Marvel at artistic creations at Newcastle Art Gallery.

Photo by themummbyproject.com

Photo by themummbyproject.com

Take artistic inspirations from exhibitions and collections at Newcastle Art Gallery.

More than 5000 works of art are housed in this gallery or museum. Being the second oldest city in Australia, Newcastle has accumulated a massive amount of culturally and historically relevant artworks. Come by anytime from 10am

to 5pm – Tuesdays to Sundays.

Entrance to the gallery is free (unless for some special exhibitions). Note that if you’re coming as a group, book ahead of time to avail free guided tours and avoid parking hassles.

11. Fall in love with swimming at the peculiar Bogey Hole.

Photo by www.theherald.com.au

Photo by theherald.com.au

Taking a dip at Newcastle’s ocean baths won’t be hard to cross off your bucket list. But among the numerous natural pools, Bogey hole stole the hearts of both locals and visitors. Find out what they love most about these pools.

Bogey hole is a public swimming pool built by convicts in 1820 under the command of James Morisset. Now it is considered a part of New South Wales heritage. Fun fact: do you know that there are a hundred ocean baths in New South Wales? You’d definitely need more than a week to explore all of them.

You will find this iconic swimming spot near Shepherds Hill and from this location, you get to view the breathtaking landscape of Newcastle coastline. Bad weather, however, makes this ocean pool unsafe for swimming due to big, crashing waves.

12. Savour the view of Newcastle Harbour on a ferry ride.

Newcastle-Harbour
A tour in Newcastle is incomplete without witnessing the trade that led to its economic boom: the coal transport.

Watch myriad of ships docking its harbour and transporting coal to many parts of the world. Newcastle has the world’s largest coal export port. If you hop on a ferry and stay long enough, you will see the bustling trade and enjoy a variety of vessels stopping by the busiest seaport in New South Wales.

If money and time are not an issue, book a cruise at Nova Cruises (www.novacruises.com.au) or Moonshadow Cruises (www.moonshadow.com.au). If you want to save up, you can board the Stockton Ferry, which is scheduled to leave every 20 minutes or so. It’s open from 5:30 in the morning until midnight from Monday to Saturday. On Sundays, it operates from 8:30am to 10pm.

13. Take 360-degree view of the city from Queen’s Wharf Tower.

Queen's-Wharf-Tower-Newcastle

Photo by wikimedia.org

Strong limbs and calves are required as you would have to climb 180 steps to get to the top of the Queen’s Wharf Tower and enjoy the panoramic view of the city below.

The 40.3 meter-high tower was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1988 as part of a vision Joy Cummings – the first female Lord Mayor winning the position in 1974. Besides these political and social milestones, the wharf is worth a visit for the spectacular views it offers the visitors.

From this vantage point, you will get acquainted with the lovely coastlines and cityscapes of Newcastle.

14. Pay a visit to the Convict Lumberyard.

Listen up, history buffs. If you check the NSW State Heritage Register, you will find the Convict Lumberyard listed as a significant site in Newcastle’s history.

After three years of careful and extensive digging (from 1989 to 1992), hundreds of artefacts and valuable aboriginal items were discovered and restored. The Newcastle City Council now owns and runs this place as an urban park.

Take a self-guided tour at this important archaeological site and see remnants of the past convict industry in Australia.

15. Crank up your creativity and take a step back in time at the Lock-up.

Once you have started digging the spots on NSW State Heritage Register, you can never miss the Lock-up. It’s among Newcastle’s historically and culturally significant buildings.

A quick look at the structure gives you an idea of the prosperity enjoyed by early settlers in Newcastle. The building was constructed from a Sydney sandstone and completed in 1861, the same time the Newcastle Police Station was built. The Lock-up is literally a prison cell converted into a cultural and art hub – a small local treasure in Newcastle.

Admission is free and the art pieces are intriguing. Check out the posters outside the building for upcoming exhibitions.

16. Stroll about the Bathers Way Coastal Walk to see the picturesque Newcastle.

Put on your most comfortable walking shoes and head out for a delightful stroll at the Bathers Way Coastal Walk.

Visitors and locals alike will appreciate the beauty of Newcastle ocean and beaches. Starting from Nobbys Headland to Merewether baths, the walk would take about 5 km. A brisk walk not only keeps weight gain at bay,  it also offers great views for your eyes to feast on. That’s a double treat you don’t want to miss out on.

Along the way, you also get to meet nice people who equally enjoy this fantastic walk. Now, that’s a triple treat.

17. Escape from the mundane and head to Myall Lakes National Park.

Photo by nationalparks.nsw.gov.au

Photo by nationalparks.nsw.gov.au

Looking for bush, beach, and lake in one recreational space? Myall Lakes National Park is the weekend escape you have been longing to find.

Get away from the city and melt away your stress with an overnight stay at the park, a stroll by the spectacular beach, a good swim at the lake, or a much-needed walking tour by the bush. Myall Lakes National Park has you covered. People of all ages will find a lot of interesting things to do around here any time of the year.

A word of warning. The park tends to be packed during the holidays so try to avoid such dates. If you can deal with the crowd, then it is fine to visit on the busiest days.

18. Get around on foot, by bike or on a canoe at Hunter Wetlands Centre.

Photo by Artur Drogosz (Panoramio)

Photo by Artur Drogosz (Panoramio)

Variety is the best word to describe the Hunter Wetlands Centre. The huge array of outdoor activities in this part of Newcastle shall make everyone happy. If you are a bird lover, you’d be elated to find that the wetlands serve as a sanctuary to a plethora of birds.

Once you get off a car, it’s just you and the rich flora and fauna. There are areas where you can have barbecue and a proper picnic. You’d be glad to know that this revitalized 45-hectare wetland can be accessed seven days a week from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

There is so much to see and explore around this hidden jewel and the activities abound for all ages so feel free to bring the kids along.

19. Discover a scenic, untouched beauty that is Dudley beach.

Dudley beach is a lesser-known surfing destination in Newcastle compared to the Nobby’s and Newcastle’s beaches.

Come down and experience its pristine shores and greet the waves with your surfing board! It doesn’t matter what your skill level – any skilled or expert surfer was once a beginner.

If the crashing waves look too frightening or you’re simply not in the mood for it, take a walk along the beach or take a much-needed dip.

20. Fly high over the splendid beaches and coastlines of Newcastle.

Fulfill your dream of flying above Newcastle’s best spots: the coastlines and beaches.

Newcastle Paragliding offers a blissful 20-30 minute flight over the city. Experience may not be necessary but strong nerves and an adventurous spirit are a must. The best months to schedule your flights begin in September until April. Winter months can be tough so check the weather condition and heed the expert’s advice before paragliding.

The awesome flight seems short but it’s well worth it. You’ll be grinning ear to ear rewatching your flight’s video or browsing your sport camera’s shots up above Newcastle.

21. Cheer for your favourite player at the biggest Surfing festival of the year.

If you want to know how serious the surf culture is in Newcastle, save the date for the 11-day Surfest in Newcastle slated on Feb. 18-28, 2016.

More than 800 pro surfers – local and international- will compete at Merewether beach, a renowned Australian National Surfing Reserve. On its 31st year, Surfest continues to attract a large number of spectators – which you are about to witness when you join the cheering crowd next year.

Who will be named ‘champions’ this year? It’s anybody’s guess. For more info, visit www.surfest.com.

22. Treat your taste buds and meet your shopping needs at the trendy street of Beaumont.

If Darby Street did not suffice, you can always go to Beaumont Street on foot, searching for the latest and hottest cafes, bars, and gigs that are worth watching.

Taking a bus from Scott Street? Fuel up with scrumptious Asian delicacies at Steven’s Asian Kitchen before you hit the perpetually busy Beaumont Street. As soon as you reach the famous street, fabulous music, hipster ambiance, and a delightful cup of coffee await you at Rolador. Be sure to drop by this cafe before going to the stores.

When in Beaumont, a visit to Hamilton Shopping centre and nearby boutique shops is essential.

23. Stop by Newcastle Harbour Foreshore Park.

Well-maintained parks may not be a rarity in Newcastle but the view of the sea and the Newcastle Harbour – the hub of the coal export industry – make Foreshore Park extra special.

Sometimes, the simplest pleasures are the ones you truly need. A picnic with your loved ones. A barbecue session with your neighbours. Or an afternoon all by yourself sitting quietly, watching huge vessels dock at the port.

On the way to the park, pay attention to the old buildings, brick houses, and Victorian-inspired terraces. A double take is all you need to have a glimpse of Newcastle’s glorious past and exciting future.

24. Bike around the city and spend as much time as you like at each destination.

Sunny days are a great time to explore a city on a bicycle. Newcastle is no exception.

Bike tours are fantastic because you control where you want to stop by and how long you want to stay at a landmark, historical site, or tourist attraction. You also benefit physically from the leg exercise.

If you like to join a group of cyclists, book a bike tour at www.newcastlebicycletours.com.au and discover the great stories that made Newcastle a unique tourist destination in Australia.

Over to you: 

How many of these have you crossed off your list? What are the must-see destinations in Newcastle that we missed?

Tell us what else to see or what other interesting things to do around this fascinating city. Better yet, share with us your most important travel tips. We read and value all your comments.