I have to be honest, Newcastle wasn’t one of the original stops we had in mind for our 1 month journey of Australia’s east coast. We met some awesome girls from Newcastle when we were in South America and they invited us to come and see them when we reached Australia, promising to give us a tour of the area. Turns out there’s loads to do in Newcastle, it’s a beautiful little spot in New South Wales that’s a perfect base for exploring the local region and we had an awesome time there.
As with our recent post about our amazing 24 hours in San Pedro De Atacama we’ve been meaning to catch up on the many blog posts we have in mind to write about other countries we’ve visited on our travels so this is an effort to catch up! One of the best things we found about Newcastle was that because it’s not on that typical backpacker east coast route it’s a lot more laid back and less touristy, meaning it kind of feels a bit more authentic in a way. It’s pretty much the perfect location to see loads of new east coast destinations that are well worth visiting and it’s home to some of the most beautiful beaches in NSW, so really what’s not to love.
Here’s our top things to do in Newcastle on your trip there!
1 – Beaches
Amusingly despite our friends telling us that it was one of the areas of Aus where we didn’t need to be worried about sharks, there was a shark sighting that closed down a lot of the beaches while we were there but we’re sure it’ll be fine on your visit! There are tons of beaches to choose from and it’s one of the main draws of the city – after school and work everyone heads to the beach to swim, surf and barbecue. Standard Aussie living the dream! Some of the best beaches include Bar Beach, Newcastle Beach and Nobby’s Beach but they pretty much all feature long sandy beaches and beautiful blue ocean views.
2 – Hunter Valley
Another highlight is Newcastle’s proximity to the Hunter Valley, one of Australia’s most famous wine regions. It’s just down the road from the city, meaning that like one of my famous areas of the UK – Norfolk, you have dramatic coastlines and beautiful beaches on one side and lush green countryside on the other. It’s pretty much the perfect combination. Spending at least a day exploring the Hunter Valley and tasting everything from wine, vodka and beer to fudge and artisan chocolate will be sure to make it one of your favourite spots in NSW. This was definitely one of our favourite things to do in Newcastle!
3- Anzac Memorial Walk
One of the most scenic things to do in Newcastle is to explore the recently completed Anzac bridge which was built as a memorial to residents of Newcastle who fought in WW1. It commemorates the 100th anniversary of ANZAC troops landing at Gallipoli and is an impressive feat of engineering. Following the stunning stretch of coastline between Bar Beach and the Strzelecki Lookout its 450 metres long and contains artwork and engraved names to commemorate local losses.
4- Bogey Hole
Another must do if you’re in Newcastle is to go for a swim at the Bogey Hole. It’s an ocean pool that’s been carved into the cliffs of the coast and offers amazing views over the ocean as you swim. It’s the perfect spot for evening swimming and is a heritage listed pool. Sadly there have been injuries and deaths at the Bogey Hole and it’s been closed due to these in the past, meaning an extensive program to make it a safer swimming area has taken place in recent years.
5- Seafront Views
Queens Wharf tower is the biggest landmark in this part of the city and whilst the tower itself isn’t so much of a must do when it comes to things to do in Newcastle, but it does offer some great ocean views and spending time on the Wharf is definitely something you should do. Whether you enjoy a seafood dinner on the Wharf or just some drinks you can expect a beautiful sunset at one of Newcastle’s most scenic spots. There’s a lot of investment taking place to regenerate the area and this is one of the main areas this is taking place.
6- Oakvale Petting Zoo
Not far from Newcastle city is Oakvale Petting Zoo, one of our favourite small zoos where you can see all those crazy Australian animals that you have to tick off on any visit! From koalas to kangaroos and wallabies to Tasmanian devils, it’s a well laid out Petting Zoo where you can mingle with the animals. They have a large collection of animals all of which seem happy and well looked after. The perfect place to pose with a kangaroo and a lot more budget friendly than some of Australia’s more high profile zoos.
There’s a lot more to take in when it comes to things to do in Newcastle, from chocolate cafes and lighthouse walks to other local scenic bars and marinas, but these are our favourites. It’s fast becoming a more popular touristy destination so visit while it still retains some of that authenticity. A beautiful setting with countryside and beaches combined with its modern university city makes it a perfect stop off on any east coast road trip. A final top tip is to make sure you save some time to stop off at Somersby Falls on your way to Sydney from Newcastle to break up the drive – it’s a beautiful and often quiet waterfall and a great spot for a picnic lunch.