I'm a freelance writer living and studying in Sydney
Published April 23rd 2012
Newcastle offers a vast variety of hot, sandy beaches, from Nobby's in town, right down south to Caves Beach.
Having travelled home to Newcastle recently with friends who had never visited before, I was stumped as to where to take them first. We only had 3 days so I had to be selective with the city's beach attractions.
Let's start with Caves Beach. This is the beach furthest south of Newcastle before you hit the freeway and leave the city of Newcastle behind. Catherine Hill Bay is a bit further south, but I'll talk about that later.
Caves Beach is famous for it's caves and rock formations. Most of my childhood was spent exploring those caves. There is also a great opportunity to crawl 'army-style' through a tunnel that leads from one side of the cave to the other. On this side, there are rock pools to be explored. Caves Beach is generally quieter than those in town so this is a great spot for a family outing or a relaxed beach trip. The surfing is also pretty good.
Catherine Hill Bay is further south than Caves Beach and a much quieter venue. To access this beach you'll have to travel down the freeway for about 10-15 minutes from Caves. Catherine Hill Bay is an iconic landmark in Newcastle, famous for it's coaling history, particularly the Coal Loader jetty which still stands today. The Bay was registered as a Heritage Conservation Area in 2004 by the Lake Macquarie City Council. This beach is only small but there is the opportunity to swim and even dive.
Redhead Beach is north of Caves Beach and is another nice quiet beach to visit. The unique aspect of Redhead is that it offers a dog beach where it is legal to let dogs off the leash. To be honest, I visit this beach even when I don't have my dogs with me simply because of the atmosphere. There is nothing like taking your dog to the beach. Redhead has plenty of space to offer, and there are areas where there aren't any dogs. Redhead offers great surfing and a lovely family environment. Don't forget to go exploring on the dunes!
Moving up into town, Newcastle offers Merewether Beach (also known as Bar Beach) and Nobby's (Newcastle's main beach). This is where the beaches get really iconic.
Merewether Beach is home to the Merewether Baths, the largest sea baths in the southern hemisphere. Enjoy swimming in these baths while the waves crash over the edge. Bar Beach also has great picnic facilities, including covered seating and a free barbecue.
While you're at it, why not take the scenic walk along Bather's Way from Merewether Beach to Nobby's. Nobby's Beach is Newcastle's most popular, and will often be quite crowded on a nice day. It is at the very tip of the Newcastle mainland. Newcastle's ocean baths are nearby and there is also the opportunity to walk from the Nobby's Lighthouse right up to the tip of the foreshore (along the Harbour break-wall). Nobby's is also a really popular place to learn to surf.
Just south of Nobby's is the slightly smaller Newcastle Beach, which is said to be one of the best surfing locations in Australia. It takes approximately 15 minutes to walk from Newcastle Beach to Nobby's via the scenic Bather's Way. If you're looking for crowded and iconic beaches, then the beaches in town should be your first stop.