Newcastle Mini Guide
What can you Tell me About Newcastle?
The city is the second biggest in New South Wales and has grown exponentially on the coal that’s mined in the city’s hinterland and also the export activity at the port where more coal is shipped off than anywhere else in the world. The region was discovered in 1797 after a British search party, looking for escaped convicts, found the river, deep harbour and coal deposits. Today it combines heavy industry with tourism based on the beautiful beaches along the coast which include Nobby’s Head and Nobby’s Beach.
How Easy is it to get into Newcastle?
It’s relatively easy despite it being a domestic airport only. It’s only a short hop by plane from Sydney Airport
, the main entry airport into Australia or alternatively you can drive the hundred miles of road or take the train there if you can be bothered with the hassle of the wait at the airport for your connecting flight.
What can I see or do in Newcastle?
The delights of Newcastle lay mostly outside the city in the Blackbutt Reserve which has been surrounded by its suburbs but which still offers a great way to see the local wildlife. The estuary of the Hunter River has many wading and migratory birds there and twitchers will be spoiled. For a relaxing time, head along the pier to Nobby’s Island or just enjoy the beautiful beach that flanks the pier.
The recently refurbished Fort Scratchley is also very interesting with its history of fighting off Japanese shelling of the city in the Second World War.
Astonishingly for a modestly sized city, the port is also the world’s largest coal export port. But despite these industrial credentials Newcastle is a fantastic place to take a holiday and a base from which to visit wonderful beaches and enchanting wineries within the renowned Hunter Valley area. At the seaside surfing and other water sports are all popular pastimes, with the largest surf competition in Australia, Surfest, held there annually. If you want to take a dip without worrying about the strong currents (or any sharks for that matter) there are a number of ocean baths in Newcastle which make an ideal way to spend the day.
Around 140,000 people live in Newcastle but the more than three times that amount live within the surrounding suburbs. Newcastle has its own university and is a vibrant city where you can find art exhibitions, cultural events and festivals held fairly regularly. The most popular festival is Mattara which last for a week and has a number of different events.
You can fly into Newcastle airport, which is known as Williamtown airport
, from other regional cities such as Brisbane on Virgin Blue and Jetstar, as well as Sydney on Aeropelican. Rhino car representatives from major car companies such as Budget Car Rental and Europcar can show you to your vehicle upon arrival so your journey need not take any longer than it has to.
To drive from Sydney to Newcastle takes quite a while – it is a 150 kilometre journey northwards on the freeway (F3). There are two different routes along the F3 which you can take and if you follow the exit marked Charlestown the route will be far more pleasing on the eye. Avoid peak hours so that your journey does not coincide with that of commuters but apart from that the journey should be hassle free and the roads are in good condition.
A walk around Newcastle city will give you many clues as to its history. Take a stroll past the post office and the railway station to see some of Newcastle’s older buildings. There is also a pier which connects the mainland to an island called Nobbys Head. The pier was built by convict labour. There is also a military museum at Fort Scratchley which defended Newcastle from a Japanese submarine attack during the Second World War.