A harbour city situated on the eastern coast of New South Wales, Newcastle is synonymous with a breathtakingly beautiful coastline, a cool café culture and multiple golden stretches of sand. It may only be a fraction of the size of Sydney, but as Australia’s second-oldest city, it still packs a punch – come for the laid-back atmosphere, the diverse arts scene and some of the best swimming holes anywhere in the country.
One of the main reasons to come to Newcastle is its world-class beaches, which are linked by the Bathers Way – a six-kilometre-long walk that stretches from the commanding lighthouse at Nobbys Head to the sands of Merewether Beach. This is a popular spot that provides the base for the annual ‘Surfest’ – an annual surfing competition held between the months of January to March which holds the title of being the largest surfing festival in the southern hemisphere. Swimmers can enjoy a cooling dip in the Bogey Hole – a convict-built and World-Heritage-listed ocean bath from the colonial period which is thought to be the oldest surviving European construction in the region.
Delve into the city’s thriving arts scene at the Newcastle Art Gallery, which offers a range of in-depth exhibits and installations dedicated to honouring the culture and traditions of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Other sites include Fort Scratchley – a former coastal defence installation turned into a museum constructed in 1882 CE – and the Blackbutt Nature Reserve.