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Top 5 Things to Do in Newcastle

Home > New South Wales > Lists | Beaches | Cafes | Escape the City | Family | School Holiday Activities
by Sue W (subscribe)
Lover of exploring, family, food and fun! Find me on instagram: @australianrecipesbythebay
Published November 20th 2021
A changing city of old and new
Newcastle is a city that is located just over 2 hours north of Sydney. It is a mix of old and new, as its industrial history is contrasted with new apartment buildings, funky street art, quirky pubs and fun events. You never know what you're going to find in Newcastle!

Since my family and I moved to Port Stephens, 1 hour north of Newcastle, we have driven down to Newcastle several times each year to explore what the city has to offer. At first glance, it is an industrial city with coal trains driving to the docks and some run-down areas - but then when you delve into its secrets you find funky warehouses turned into bars, restaurants inside heritage-listed buildings, museums built inside old train workshops and brand new modern apartment complexes being built next to the river. The city centre is having a complete change and it is a fascinating mix of old and new. Here are 5 things to do while you're there!

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Nobbys Beach, Canoe Pool and Newcastle Ocean Baths


1/ The Beaches around Newcastle are easily accessible from the city and this is where you will find most Novocastrians in summer. The most popular beach that we have visited is Merewether Beach, as it has the historical Merewether Ocean Baths, the Merewether Surfhouse (which has a cafe and pizza kiosk downstairs) and a beautiful beach to have a swim. To get an overall look at the beaches, take the Bathers Way coastal walking path along the coastline past Dixon and Bar Beach, read about the local heroes on the Newcastle Memorial Walk, stop at Newcastle Beach (and a enjoy a burger at The Kiosk and a swim at Newcastle Ocean Baths), then continue along to Nobbys Beach and the lighthouse. One of Newcastle's biggest attractions are the beaches, so pack your swimming costume!

2/ The Cafe Scene is alive and well in Newcastle, with popular cafes serving amazing food in quirky historical buildings (see The Signal Box), cute terrace houses on Darby Street (see Three Monkeys Cafe), in colourful cafes by the river (see The Beehive), vegan cafes in the city (see Momo Wholefood Cafe) and along a whole street on Beaumont Street in Hamilton. The choices are endless! Our family enjoy going for a walk around East Newcastle and stumbling upon a local favourite. Go for a walk and see what you discover!

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Momo Wholefoods and Beehive Cafe


3/ Family Fun is one of the many reasons that our family travel into Newcastle, as there are so many different places to explore! During the school holidays we regularly visit Blackbutt Nature Reserve, Richley Reserve Mega Adventure Playground, Newcastle Museum (to watch the science shows in the school holidays) and South Stockton Playground (take your scooters!) for some outdoor fun. If it's raining also check out Holey Moly Mini Golf, Timezone (at both Kotara and Charlestown), Revolution trampoline park and the cinema.

If you are happy to go for a drive, then also check out Hunter Valley Zoo, the Hunter Valley Gardens (particularly in the school holidays and Christmas) and have some fun in the Stockton Sand Dunes in Port Stephens.

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Blackbutt Nature Reserve


4/ The River Walk is an enjoyable scenic walk (and scooter) that our family like to do along the Hunter River between the Honeysuckle Precinct and Nobbys Head. Each weekend the pavement is full of families, runners, cyclists and walkers, as they take in the views of the river and beyond. Watch the coal ships and tug boats move in and out of the harbour, as well as cruise ships when they arrive.

At one end of the walk, there is the Honeysuckle Precinct, with the Honeysuckle Playground, Honeysuckle Hotel, Newcastle Museum and Beehive Cafe, amongst other riverside venues. In the middle, there is Lynch's Hub, Scratchleys, Harrys Cafe de Wheels, Queens Wharf Hotel and the Stockton Ferry, and then towards the mouth of the river, you can walk all the way up to the end of the Breakwall, around Foreshore Park and Horseshoe dog beach. If you have kids, take the prams, bike or scooters as it is a long way for little legs to walk.

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Lynch's Hub and Beehive Cafe


5/ The History of Newcastle is evident everywhere, particularly in the city centre along Hunter Street. The city has a long history in steel and coal and you will find many historical facades in the city centre which have been preserved for their unique historical features. Cooks Hill has terrace houses and the city centre has buildings dating back to the 1800s, which still stand proudly today. For more information on the history of Newcastle, catch the light rail to the Newcastle Museum, book a walking tour with Newcastle Afoot or hit the pavement with your own DIY Guide from Newcastle Council.

Newcastle is an interesting city - it may not have big attractions like Sydney or Melbourne, but it is a city that grows on you as you discover new places to visit and things to do. The people of Newcastle are friendly, so ask a local where they like to go for coffee or a night out and they are sure to share their secrets. It is a city worth exploring - why don't you visit this weekend?
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Why? Explore NSW!
When: Visit in summer so you can go for a swim!
Where: Newcastle, NSW
Cost: Medium budget
Your Comment
Great to see you back writing, Sue - congrats on the silver, informative article!
by Elaine (score: 3|8614) 10 days ago
Like most industrial cities Sue, if you look you will find interesting places. Well discovered and written.
by Neil Follett (score: 3|3303) 10 days ago
I've heard about the beaches of Newcastle but havent had the chance to visit. They look terrific
by Gillian Ching (score: 3|3618) 10 days ago
A good article Sue, every place has something to offer if we are only open-minded enough to look for it.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|9506) 9 days ago
I wish you had written this mid year when I went to Newcastle for this first time. I really enjoyed the city. the food at the Blue Door was good.
by Jennifer L (score: 1|65) 7 days ago
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