I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published July 12th 2018
Enjoy A Day Out At Newcastle's Most Iconic Location
Since the earliest days of colonial settlement, Nobby's Head has been a geographical feature that is difficult to ignore. A rocky protrusion situated near the entrance of Newcastle Harbour, the historic lighthouse and signal station on its summit are a local icon and a favourite subject for photographers who desire to capture an image that uniquely represents Newcastle. For generations, Nobby's lighthouse and surrounding grounds have also been a popular destination for walkers and picnickers, due to the history of the site and its spectacular views over the city and local beaches.
Originally separated from the mainland by a narrow stretch of shallow water, for thousands of years Nobbys was known as Whybagarba by the local Indigenous people, It was later named Coal Island by early British colonists and as Newcastle developed as a penal outpost, the island underwent various transformations, with a pier and later a breakwater being constructed by convict labour, linking it to Collier Point on the mainland. In addition, Nobbys and its surrounds underwent extensive coal mining and tunnelling, and its original height of over 40 metres was dramatically reduced to just 27 metres in order to create a safer entrance into the harbour for sailing ships.
It was in 1858, after numerous shipwrecks and other tragedies in the area's perilous waters, that Nobbys Lighthouse was first lit – the third lighthouse to be constructed in the fledgling colony of New South Wales. The prominent position of the headland, overlooking both Newcastle Harbour and a long expanse of coastline, made it an ideal location, and even today – 160 years later – the lighthouse still serves its original function, albeit utilising a 120 volt, 1000-watt quartz halogen light rather than earlier versions that burnt coal and China Tea Oil.
During World War II, the site played an integral role in the coastal defence of Newcastle, due to its strategic location. These days, however, life is much quieter around Nobbys Headland. The historic lighthouse is now fully automated and Nobbys Headland Weather Station is also situated on the site.
Whether you're a 'born and bred' Newcastle local or a just spending a few days in town, a visit to Nobbys Lighthouse and its surrounds is a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours, surrounded by some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in New South Wales. A visit to the site involves a scenic 800 metre walk from the East End Beach Parking Area, along Macquarie Pier, which joins it to the mainland. The path leading there is wide, paved and well-maintained, making it easily accessible for people in wheelchairs or families with young children in prams. However, the path that branches off from the pier and ascends to the lighthouse area is quite steep and may prove to be a bit challenging for those with mobility issues.
The site itself is fascinating, and consists of the lighthouse buildings as well as three cottages that were built during the 1940s (one of which houses a display of historical photos) and lovely gardens which are perfect for a picnic. There are various public conveniences, including a kiosk, picnic tables and toilets.
Nobby's Lighthouse is open every Sunday from 10am until 4pm. Entrance is free, making it an affordable family day out. For more information, check out the Nobbys Lighthouse website or call Newcastle Now on 02 4929 4644.