Our Australian friends asked us: ‘Why are you going to Newcastle?’ or ‘Newcastle? What’s in Newcastle?’ We needed a quiet place to work for a while on our way and Newcastle seemed like a relatively cheap alternative to the bigger cities. So the response was: ‘Why not Newcastle?’. We have realized during our stay, that Newcastle is actually a pretty cool place to visit, to take it slow and to have a little break from traveling (if you are at it for some time). In case beach-time and surfing is not enough activity for you, here are a couple of things you can try out while staying there:
A Bit Of Australian History: Newcastle Memorial Walk & Fortress
One afternoon should be enough to visit the most important historic landmarks of Newcastle. You can start your little tour at the Memorial Walk, a monument to the ANZAC soldiers fighting in WWI. Apart from its historical significance, it is also a great viewpoint over the coastline of Newcastle.
You should also have a look at the Fort Scratchley, an old English naval fort. It sits on the hill (visible from the Memorial Walk) and watches over entire Newcastle. You can learn a bit about the colonial history of the city and its end.
A Bit Of Rough Newcastle Sea: Nobbys Head
If you continue along the coastline from Fort Scratchley North, you can walk all the way to Nobbys Head. This long headland forming the Southern barrier to the Newcastle harbor is a pretty spectacular place for a stroll. You can visit the lighthouse, or just walk down the wall itself, admiring the waves exploding against the rocks. We realize this might not be so cool if you are used to being next to the ocean, but for us it was amazing. If you are lucky you can also spot dolphins playing around in the harbor or a whale in the distance. The pier itself is also pretty nice to look at – there are some murals carved into the stones.
A Bit Of Good Newcastle Food
In case you go hungry after walking around the city, there are a few places in Newcastle that we have tried and can recommend for lunch or dinner. If coming back from Nobbys Head by the Newcastle Ocean Baths, there is a great fish-and-chips place right in the building of the baths themselves. Grab a serving and eat it right on the beach.
If you are visiting the ocean baths in Merewether (or coming out of Glenrock reserve described below), stop over at the Blue Door Cafe in the surf club building. They have excellent coffee and a lot of small things to eat.
If you are after a quiet evening out, check out Napoli Centrale in the CBD. You can get pretty decent pizza for reasonable money. On a side note, also check out Tower Cinemas if you are a movie fan. They have all kinds of themed festivals going on, as well as classic blockbuster choices.
A Bit Of Newcastle Nature: Glenrock Reserve
Probably my personal favorite place in Newcastle is the Glenrock reserve. If you are staying in Merewether like we did, it is literally walking distance to the reserve. You can continue by the beach from the Merewether Ocean Baths (careful when the sea is rough) and cross right into the reserve. Another option is to drive to one of the many access points.
The reserve has a beautiful beach (with very few people). There are plenty of walking trails to keep you busy for a couple of days and nothing else. Just a peaceful little corner right next to the city itself.
And Finally, A Bit Of A Swim: Newcastle’s Ocean Baths
We stumbled across quite a few ocean baths around Australia already, but in Newcastle people seem to really love them. There are two big ocean bath centers along the beach, one in Merewether and one close to CBD. These have proper pools for swimming, as well as smaller ones just for fooling around. They also provide a cafe, toilets and all other facilities you may need.
An undoubtedly cooler experience is going for a dip to the Bogey Hole, a small swim hole located just under the King Edward Park. A small staircase leads down to the water. There is just a small wall that separates it from the ocean and makes up for quite an adventure ride if the swell gets big.
Did you ever visit Newcastle? What were your impressions of the city? Underrated or boring? We’d love to hear from you 🙂
Also published on Medium.