If you’re traveling from Sydney to Cairns by bus or car, you will pass a city called Newcastle. It’s Australia’s second oldest city and a favorite weekend getaway from Sydney. Is stopping at Newcastle worth it? And what is there to do? Read along for my experience and top tips.
The thing I wish people told me before
So there’s one thing I wish people told me before and that is that Newcastle is super Instagram worthy! Everything is pastel colored, old-ish and happy. I absolutely love this city and there’s nothing that could have prepared me more.
I arrived around 9 pm with the Greyhound from Sydney, and after a quick peek in the harbour at night I walked to my hostel, less than 5 minutes away from the bus station, which was great.
Top things to do in Newcastle
Newcastle is a beach city, and since my accommodation is literally a one minute walk away from Newcastle beach, I check it out first.
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The first thing that comes to mind, is that the ocean is ridiculously wild here. The weather is sunny, but it’s only 8 am, so I’m not sure if there’s a big storm coming up or if it’s just always like that. It is perfectly blue, and I already feel at home here.
I stop at a place called Estabar for coffee and breakfast. The vibe is good, nice cafe music, good coffee, friendly staff and beach views.
Next, it’s time for a long beach walk. I walk past the Ocean Baths (beautiful!!), towards Nobbys beach and the head. I decide to spot the special birds, but ended up being too busy searching for sharks and taking photos, and only spotted a few pigeons. I did think I saw a shark (or dolphin), so that was exciting.
Australia being Australia, with danger warnings everywhere, the actual walk was not that adventurous at all, as you can see here:
The walk to Nobbys head took about 20 minutes and was a pleasure, there were heaps to see. From surfers, sharks and birds to splashing water and a beautiful view.
On my second day, it rained all day. A lot of a little, but nevertheless, I didn’t feel like going sandboarding in the mud, unfortunately. I tried to call the company the day before as the sun was out and I really wanted to go sandboarding, but they didn’t pick up to make my booking.
After Nobbys I really wanted to take a dip in the Ocean Baths, so walked back to my hostel to change, and went for a swim. Unfortunately, around the time that I went in, the weather changed, and it started to get really cold. I got out quickly after the clouds came, but it took me about two hours to warm up after, but I did it! Whohoo. Really cool to swim in a salty bath haha.
After lots of warming up with a good book at the fireplace, I went for another walk to Market Town and the Honeysuckle district.
In the rain, walking on the beach is less fun. So I visited Fort Scratchly, had a food fest day with heaps of food stops, checked out the cinema, Newcastle Museum, and Newcastle Art Gallery. There was the Olive Tree Market going on, so I had a look there too. Then I called it a day because walking in the rain is not fun at all, and I got quite cold after a couple of hours.
Other things to do in Newcastle
Visit the other beaches.
Visit / swim the Bogey Hole.
Walk the Anzac Memorial Walk.
Take a dolphin cruise.
Visit Blackbutt Reserve. About 25 minutes outside the city you’ll find Australia’s finest wildlife: kangaroos, koalas, emu’s and wombats.
Rent a bike.
Visit the Lock Up Gallery. No prisoners but artists resident this former police station (1861).
Is Newcastle worth a stop?
Yes, definitely! It can be done as a day trip from Sydney, but why not fully take off and spend a disconnected weekend over at the beach? This city breathes beach, it’s everywhere! It’s not a very exciting city, but it’s a great place to relax, disconnect, drink heaps of coffee and finish a good book in two days.