72 Hours in Newcastle NSW
We’d heard some good things about Newcastle during our time in Australia and we were lucky enough to get a HelpX placement there whilst making our way up the East Coast of NSW. Having arranged everything with our lovely host Heather we caught the train from Sydney (where we’d been enjoying a week relaxing in Manly) and arrived in Newcastle a few hours later via a brief stop-off in Hornby. Heather was very friendly and insisted on us making the most of our time in Newcastle. Here are our recommendations for how to spend your time there.
Explore the beaches and swim in the Merewether Ocean Baths
Newcastle has several picturesque beaches. There’s a great walking/cycle track that goes all the way from Islington Park right into town and to the beaches. This is a great way to explore the city. We were lucky enough to be able to borrow bikes from Heather and really enjoyed the ride along the river into Newcastle. Once in the city we walked from Nobby’s Point around the headland to Merewether and its famous Ocean Baths which are amazing! Heather also took us to Merewether beach one evening for dinner. Here you can get a $10 Pizza and enjoy the beautiful views, with hang-gliders soaring overhead and the waves crashing on the rocks below.
Browse the shops, eateries and galleries on Darby Street and Hunter Street
Darby Street is the hub for the eclectic range of shops, cafes, restaurants and private galleries in the heart of Newcastle. We got some tasty sushi here to keep us going (we’d done a lot of walking after all!) but there’s plenty of choice to suit any tastes and budget. There’s also some interesting local craft stores and galleries which are great to browse and maybe pick up a souvenir.
If shopping is your thing there’s also the Hunter Street Mall which offers a few of the usual mall stores but also a variety of local shops. We particularly enjoyed The Emporium which offers unique local craft stalls and artwork for sale.
Visit the wildlife at Blackbutt Nature Reserve
Blackbutt Nature Reserve is a small nature reserve a short drive (6km) from Newcastle. Whilst it doesn’t have the variety that some larger wildlife attraction have in Australia it does have a big plus point – it’s free! We visited one afternoon with Heather and her son Tas and it was a great way to spend a couple of hours. We saw koalas, wombats and wallbies as well as loads of different birds, a few of which we’d never seen before. There’s also snakes and lizards and we even fed emu’s! The animals seemed to be well looked after and the whole reserve was well maintained.
Enjoy the nightlife @ Honeysuckle
We were lucky enough to be in Newcastle for Chinese New Year, the whole of the wharfside was buzzing with live entertainment and festivities! We walked along the wharf to Honeysuckle where there was live music, loads of places to eat and drink and a great atmosphere. We settled on The Dockyard where we both had a delicious steak and tried some craft beers. The Honeysuckle area often has entertainment and events so it’s a great place to start a night out in Newcastle.
Take a day-trip to Lake Macquarie
Heather recommended Lake Macquarie from day one and we were really glad we made the effort to visit. It’s a beautiful place to chill-out with a picnic and enjoy the scenery. There’s lots of spots around the lake that you can stop-off and walk around. If you have a bike you can cycle most of the way on purpose-built cycle tracks. Bring a picnic and a good book and relax!
Things we didn’t get around to…
Sadly we didn’t have enough time to see everything Newcastle has to offer, here’s our pick of the things we missed:
The Stockton Sand Dunes – This looked like a really fun day out and was recommended to us by Heather, sadly we just didn’t have enough time to go before we left for the Gold Coast.
Visit the museums and galleries – Newcastle has several museums and galleries. It’s worth checking out what the exhibitions currently are to see if there’s something that interests you. We had just missed the Earthquake exhibition at the museum which we were interested in seeing.
Finally there’s usually plenty of events happening in around Newcastle so don’t forget to check out what’s on while you’re there!
Have you visited Newcastle? We’d love to here your tips on what do and see while you’re there!