Newcastle is most famously known as an industry city with pumping surf beaches and a (temporarily?)-struggling football team, but this seaside locale is also an ideal holiday destination for young families.
Only 150 kilometres up the freeway from Sydney, Newcastle is an achievable destination for even the most reluctant travellers. We tested this theory by strapping our two children under three into the car and heading for the Honeysuckle Executive Apartments, in the city's thriving Honeysuckle precinct.
The Honeysuckle-Nobbys walk boasts beautiful harbour views
Once an ugly end of town, Honeysuckle is now one of the jewels in Newcastle's increasingly-shiny crown. The harbour-side precinct is packed full of trendy bars, restaurants, and family-friendly eateries. While grabbing takeaways suited us best, we did manage a speedy meal at the Honeysuckle Hotel. Housed in a 1910s-era cargo wharf, this beautiful pub sits right on the harbour's edge, and is a stunning place to watch the comings and goings on the water. With lunch specials costing only $14, we didn't have to fork out too much for the privilege, either.
Another highlight of the area is the paved walkway, hugging the foreshore from Honeysuckle to Nobbys. Luxuriously wide, the path is stroller- and little leg-friendly, and perfect for bikes and scooters. If you don't want to pack your own, you can hire bikes (some even come equipped with baby seats) and explore Newcastle's great network of bike paths.
If you're looking for an unexpected gem, check out the Newcastle Museum, also located in the Honeysuckle precinct. After receiving a tip-off from a Novocastrian friend, we ventured the hundred-odd metres from our accommodation to the museum. Inside a former railway workshop, the museum is free to enter (with the exception of occasional exhibits), and provides a fascinating glimpse into the city's working-class past. We could have spent hours immersed in history, but our toddler was pretty keen to test out the soft playground as part of the Supernova Hands-on Science Centre. The playground is only for very small children, but older kids will enjoy seeing how fast they can throw a tennis ball, or attempting to lift a small car.
Our toddler tests out the Supernova Hands-On Science Centre
Another highlight of our trip was a visit to the Merewether Ocean Baths. Our toddler still finds the waves a little scary, so the shallow children's pool was the perfect place for her to splash about. The clubhouse, towering high above the baths provided a lovely, shady spot for the non-swimmers (baby included) to sit back and relax while the toddler tired herself out. While the water - I'm told - was lovely, the highlight for me was grabbing a coffee and morning tea at the on-site cafe. The view is fantastic and it's both pet- and family-friendly.
Merewether Ocean Baths are the perfect family swim spot