city in New South Wales, Australia
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Newcastle is a city at the mouth of the Hunter River, approximately 150 km north of Sydney in the Hunter region of New South Wales. The city is the focal point for the diverse Hunter region that encompasses beaches and mountains, restaurants and wineries. Newcastle is a great place for surfers, wine buffs, bush walkers, and anyone interested in Australian history.



The City of Newcastle has a population of 349,000, with the larger metropolitan area of Greater Newcastle consisting of 682,000, making it NSW's second population centre.

Similar to its English namesake, Newcastle was an important centre for the coal mining and iron ore industries. Newcastle is Australia's oldest seaport and the world's largest coal exporting port.

Many Novocastrians take an avid interest in sports, as participants, spectators or both. The local NRL Rugby League team, the Newcastle Knights are widely followed. Newcastle also hosts soccer, baseball, ice hockey, netball and various other sporting teams. Hunter New England Health and the University of Newcastle are the city's primary employers.

To the north is Stockton Beach with kilometres and kilometres of uninhabited beaches that stretch up to Nelson Bay. Stockton Beach can be seen from Fort Scratchley, which was Newcastle's maritime defence during the world wars. Travel westward to the wineries and taste some of Australia's best wines. Barrington Tops National Park in the north west has beautiful fresh water rivers and rain forests, a good place to spot a platypus.

Visitor information


Get in

Map of Newcastle (New South Wales)

NSW Trainlink Intercity Train at Newcastle Interchange

By car


The Newcastle area is at least two hours' drive north from the centre of Sydney on the Pacific Motorway (M1). This stretch of road is a major commuter route for traffic from the Central Coast and North Shore so travel time increases significantly in the peaks to and from Sydney.

The Pacific Motorway is on the western side of Lake Macquarie. To travel up the eastern side of Lake Macquarie (through Swansea) then take the "Charlestown" exit (A43/Doyalson Link Road). This route is more scenic, more hilly, and less congested (though it takes a few minutes longer). If you follow this route you will eventually come to the Newcastle Inner City Bypass (A43) at Bennett's Green which you can take if you wish to head northwest (towards Lambton). Otherwise veer right to keep following the Pacific Highway until you reach Charlestown and then follow the signs to the city.

Traffic during holiday periods and long weekends is also affected, with heavy northbound traffic at the beginning of the period as Sydneysiders flee the city for the weekend, and heavy southbound traffic as they return.

By train


Sydney's Central, Strathfield, Epping and Hornsby stations have regular trains to 1 Newcastle Interchange via the Central Coast. Travelling time varies between 2 and 3 hours. This line uses the Opal card (the same as in Sydney) and trips from Sydney are quite comfortable and cheap at $8.30 peak and $5.81 off-peak. You can also use your contact-less credit card to at the Opal gates if you don't have an Opal Card.

Trains terminate at Newcastle Interchange, where you can transfer to light rail to go to the CBD or beach.

There is also a train service from Newcastle Interchange to various Hunter towns such as Maitland. Check the Sydney Trains website for trackwork along the Central Coast & Newcastle Line (CCN); when these occur, buses replace trains between stations and can add an hour to the trip.

Several NSW TrainLink regional services pass through Newcastle's 2 Broadmeadow Station (approximately 5 km from the CBD) daily from Sydney and the Central Coast to the south and from the Northern Rivers and New England. These trains are more expensive than intercity services and tickets must be booked in advance, but they are somewhat more comfortable and are also faster. Occasionally NSW TrainLink discount tickets offer discounts, and $1 fares for kids, so it may be worthwhile checking their fares.

By bus

  • Busways, 36-38 Stroud Street, Bulahdelah, +61 2 4997 4788, . Daily 8AM-5PM. Operates services that run to Newcastle from Taree and to Newcastle from Hawks Nest/Tea Gardens, north of Port Stephens.
  • Greyhound, 1300 473 946 (local rate call), fax: +61 7 4638 2178. M-F 8AM-6PM, Sa Su 8AM-4PM. Newcastle from Sydney direct twice daily, Newcastle from Brisbane three times daily with many stops along the Pacific Highway.
  • Port Stephens Coaches, +61 2 4982 2940. Provides daily services from Port Stephens and Williamtown airport to Newcastle Railway Station.

By plane


Flying may not be the fastest way to travel such a short distance as Sydney to Newcastle, especially since there are only a handful of flights every day, and the airport is not particularly central to Newcastle. However, the flight is particularly scenic, especially on a fine day, as there are stunning views of the northern beaches between Sydney and Newcastle. It can be well worth finding an excuse to fly if the cost is not an issue.

If flying into Sydney Airport, then take the train to Sydney Central station, and then change for the next train to Newcastle. The entire journey will be around 2.5 hours.

Get around

NLR diagram
The ferry to Stockton
Tram at Civic

The city centre is fairly walkable. Light rail and public buses are the best way to get around Newcastle city. The Sydney Opal card is used here, and used in exactly the same way. The shopping centres, John Hunter Hospital and the university are served by several bus lines.

Newcastle Light Rail (NLR) connects Newcastle Interchange (connected to the train station in a seamless manner – simply walk straight ahead past the Opal gates from the platform) to Newcastle Beach passing Honeysuckle, Civic, Crown Street and Queens Wharf.

Google Maps works for transit in Newcastle, as do several third party smartphone apps that Transport NSW recommend.

There are taxis available, although you will likely need to call for one. Hamilton station has a taxi rank which often has a few taxis waiting for the Sydney train. Uber has some drivers here, and GoCatch has just a handful. Newcastle Taxi Co-operative can be reached under +61 13 10 08.

There is a single ferry service between 4 Queens Wharf and 5 Stockton Wharf, costing $2.40 each way, also using Opal cards.

By bike

See also: Cycling in New South Wales

Riding a bicycle is possible, and infrastructure is slowly being built, but takes some time to discover. Select areas around Wickham, Islington, and along Honeysuckle Drive have some infrastructure, quiet streets, a gentle terrain along waterways that can be quite pleasant to ride through. Other areas which have some infrastructure are around Adamstown and Kotara Shopping Centre. It is possible to ride to and in the surroundings of the John Hunter Hospital, University of Newcastle but these are up significant gradients. Even so, much riding will occur on roads shared with motor vehicles.

Car hire

Newcastle CBD from Nobbys Head


  • 1 Christ Church Cathedral, 52 Church Street. See Newcastle's Cathedral. Tour the inside and climb the tower, with a guided map. $10.    
  • Heritage architecture. In and around the city. Notable buildings in the CBD area include the courthouse (top of Bolton St), former Customs House, Newcastle Railway Station, and Post Office (cnr of Hunter St and Bolton St).
  • 2 Nobbys Head. Nobbys Island is connected to the mainland by a pier built using convict labour (completed in 1846). The pier is accessible to pedestrians, and is flanked by Nobbys Beach. It provides an excellent vantage point to take in views of the harbour and Stockton Beach across the water.    

Museums and art galleries

  • 3 Newcastle Museum, Workshop Way, +61 2 4974 1400. Tu-Su 10AM-5PM. Opened in 2011, this museum is spread across three historic railway workshop buildings with permanent exhibitions on local history, the BHP steelworks and coal mining, and interactive science. Free.
  • 4 Fort Scratchley, Nobbys Rd, +61 2 4974 5005. W-M 10AM-4PM. A historic site which now houses a military museum. The fort defended Newcastle in 1942 when a Japanese submarine surfaced shelling the city. Fort Scratchley has been refurbished and is open to the public, great views to the north and over the city are a highlight as is the history. Just east of the fort is Newcastle ocean baths a great place to swim and meet some local characters.    
  • 5 The Lock Up Cultural Centre, 90 Hunter St, +61 2 4925 2265. W Th 10AM-4PM, F-Su 10AM-5PM. Incorporates a police museum and the John Paynter Gallery, which hosts resident artists all year round. Gold coin entry.
  • 6 The Maritime Centre (Newcastle Maritime Museum), 3 Honeysuckle Dr, +61 2 4929 2588, . Permanently Closed. The museum reveals the history of Newcastle's port from shipwrecks and rescues to pirates.
  • 7 Newcastle Art Gallery, 1 Laman St, +61 2 4974 5100, . Tu-Su 10AM-5PM. Well worth a visit. The gallery houses a high quality collection of works by Australian artists, and stages its own and travelling exhibitions. Free.
  • 8 Miss Porter's House, 434 King Street, +61 249 270202, . 1PM-4PM second Sunday of each month. Built by the Porters in 1909, the family lived in this freestanding Edwardian terrace until 1997, when they left it to the National Trust with all its contents intact. It is now a living snapshot of pre-1950s life in Newcastle. Miss Porter’s House is a living home, offering you today, a rare and privileged visit into other lives and other times. Built in 1909 by Herbert Porter, the terrace was home to the Porter family until 1997. The property was left to the National Trust by Miss Hazel Porter with its contents intact, providing today’s visitors with a vivid experience of the twentieth century inner-city life in Newcastle. Miss Porter’s House is filled with 1909-1940 furnishings and personal items which tell the story of the family over more than a century. Adults $8; Concession $6.

Parks and gardens

  • 9 The foreshore. Large grassed open spaces on the old goods marshalling yards at the eastern end with playground equipment for children. Bars, cafes and restaurants overlooking the harbour starting from Queens Wharf where live music can be listened to on the outdoor area over the water (Hunter River)but very little grassed areas.
  • 10 King Edward Park. A great place for a picnic or a BBQ. Nice views of the ocean.
  • 11 Mount Sugarloaf lookout, West Wallsend.
The old station, customs house and beaches
  • 1 ANZAC Walk, 43 High St, The Hill. A short bridge connecting Strzelecki lookout with Bar Beach along the ridgeline, honouring the ANZACs who fought in World War I. free.
  • 2 Hunter Wetlands Centre, Wallsend Rd, Sandgate, +61 2 4951 6466. 9AM-5PM. A regenerated 45-hectare wetlands area adjacent to Hexham Swamp. There are walking trails, a bicycle trail, a canoe trail, picnic and barbecue facilities, and a visitors' centre.
  • See some live music. The TE Guide provides weekly entertainment listings and appears in Wednesday's Post free newspaper and Thursday's Newcastle Herald in print and online. The online version is not always kept up to date, so it is best to get hold of a print copy. Alternatively, look for Uturn streetpress, which is widely distributed to shops and libraries around town.
  • 3 Blackbutt Reserve. A 182-ha reserve in suburban Newcastle. A natural bushland area which is full of native animals, picnic areas, wildlife exhibits, bushwalking trails, and children's playgrounds. Don't miss the flying fox colony on the Rainforest trail. Main entrance is off Carnley Avenue, Kotara. Other entrances - Lookout Road, New Lambton Heights (on bus route) & Richley Reserve off Freyburg Street, New Lambton. On foot from Kotara train station, enter by the small trailhead opposite Grinsell Ave. on Carnley Ave., and stay to the right in the trail system to reach the info booth and animal displays at the Carnley Avenue entrance.
  • 4 Fernleigh Track. A 15.5-km long cycling, walking and running trail that starts in the Newcastle suburb of Adamstown and ends in the Lake Macquarie suburb of Belmont. It follows the remains of a railway line that used to run from Adamstown to Belmont down the coast.
  • Newcastle Regional Library, Laman Street. A large local library that also hosts exhibitions. This library is a stunning war memorial in a unique setting and style. Note also the curious bikestands outside the front steps. The Local Studies Library on the second floor will answer most questions about Newcastle and the Hunter Valley. A small library well done.
Water fountain
  • 5 Bar Beach. Regarded by many as the best of a range of beaches that ring the city. Surfing and kite-surfing available.
  • 6 Nobbys Beach. One of the safer beaches to swim at, fairly close to the city and Newcastle train station.
Aerial view of Newcastle Harbour
  • 7 Newcastle Beach. Another good beach next to the city centre.

Ocean baths

The ANZAC Walk

No visit to Newcastle during the warmer months would be complete without taking a dip in the ocean baths. On sunny days you can sunbathe on the Grandstand on the Fort side of the baths.

The baths are also open during the winter, for the more adventurous. The Newcastle baths are home to the "Newcastle Pirates", a winter swimming club not unlike the Icebergs or Polar Bears of other places.

  • 8 Newcastle Ocean Baths. Close to the city centre, these historic baths were opened in 1922.
  • 9 Merewether Ocean Baths. The largest ocean baths complex in the southern hemisphere. Free.
  • 10 The Bogey Hole. Carved out of the rock by convicts, this ocean pool at the bottom of King Edward Park is a great place for a relaxing dip.

Festivals and events

  • Mattara Festival, Wallsend Park. A festival held each year during the Labour Day long weekend in late September/early October. The Mattara festival formerly included the Mattara Hillclimb, a car race held in scenic King Edward Park. The festival features family entertainment and market stalls.
  • This Is Not Art Festival. Held in the same long weekend each year, and showcases the talents of young and emerging artists, writers, media makers and electronic musicians from around Australia.
  • Surfest, . Australia's largest surfing contest and festival held at Merewether Beach. The event is held annually over 12 days in late February.
  • Carols by Candlelight. Held each December in many of Newcastle's parks.
  • Cultural Stomp, Civic Park. A one-day celebration of the region's cultural diversity. Forums, panels, music, art, films, spoken word.
  • Newcastle 500, Newcastle East. Newcastle's inaugural round of the V8 Supercars series, held on a street circuit in the East End of the city. Late November. Price TBC.


The University of Newcastle behind Civic station

The 1 University of Newcastle is one of the major regional universities in New South Wales. Its academic program is quite broad and includes many liberal arts courses. Their undergraduate medicine degree is very highly regarded.

  • For locally made clothing with a quirky, hip look, try 1 High Tea with Mrs Woo, 74 Darby Street, Cooks Hill, +61 4926 4883. Darby Street is also a good place to browse in the boutiques, although the options here aren't cheap.
  • Retro and second-hand clothing: Newcastle has a range of interesting second-hand stores. Some stores are priced very competitively when compared with their Sydney counterparts.
  • 2 Patsan Dance Music Specialist, 301 Hunter Street, +61 4925 3996.
  • 3 Newcastle City Farmers Market, Newcastle Showground, Brown Road, Broadmeadow (close to Broadmeadow Train Station), +61 2 4930 5156. Most Sundays 8AM-1PM.
  • 4 Hunter Street Markets, Hunter Street Mall, +61 2 9999 2226. Every Th-Sa 9AM-3PM. Also runs whenever a cruise ship is in town.
  • 5 The Station (Old Newcastle Station), Watt St (between Queens Wharf and Newcastle Beach LRT stations), +61 2 4927 3235. Before the railway line was truncated at Newcastle Interchange, this used to be its main railway station into the CBD. It's now been revitalised into a small shopping precinct with easy access using the light rail.

Most of the city's restaurants and cafés can be found along three main eatery strips: Honeysuckle Drive in Honeysuckle, Darby Street in Cooks Hill and Beaumont Street in Hamilton.





There are numerous options along Beaumont St in Hamilton and Darby St in Cooks Hill. At Three Monkeys (Darby St Cooks Hill) coffee can be ordered by the bowl.

  • 2 Euro Patisserie, 68 Orchardtown Rd, New Lambton, +61 2 4957 7188. M–F 7AM–4PM; Sa 7AM–3PM; Su 8AM–2PM. Deservedly popular for their award-winning cakes and pastries.
  • 3 Goldbergs Coffee House, 137 Darby St, Cooks Hill, +61 2 4929 3122. W–M 7AM–1PM. A busy Darby St stalwart, offers large meals and a good location for people-watching.
  • 4 Suspension Espresso, 3 Beaumont Street, Islington (turn right out of Hamilton Station and walk about 2 minutes down Beaumont Street), +61 2 4962 2717. Daily 6AM-5PM. Very good coffee near Hamilton Station. Great for waiting for the train back to Sydney. Coffees $4, mains from $10.
  • 5 Blue Door Cafe, 364 Hunter Street (Just off Wheeler Place). Takeaway 6AM-3PM, dine in 7AM-2:30PM. In the heart of the Civic precinct. Serves fresh, simple dishes and of course, coffee. $15-25 per food item, <$10 for drinks.









Bars and clubs

  • 1 Queens Wharf Brewery. On the foreshore. A popular spot for a drink. The pub sells its own beers and has harbour views. During the day and M and Tu nights the atmosphere is relaxed, whilst W-Su evenings can get very busy. There's also entertainment (generally DJs, top 40 cover bands, R&B soloists) on W-Su evenings. There is a large outdoor (beer garden style) area on a jetty over the river - great way to relax on a sunny day.
  • 2 Silo Lounge Bar (in the Honeysuckle development on the harbour). A drawcard is the selection of Belgian beers available.
  • 3 Northern Star Hotel, 112 Beaumont St, Hamilton, +61 2 4961 1087. An Irish pub in the middle of Hamilton's restaurant strip. The Northern Star regularly functions as a music venue - check the blackboard out the front to find out what's on.
  • 4 Kent Hotel, 59 Beaumont Street, Hamilton, +61 2 4961 3303. A busy pub on Hamilton's restaurant strip. Check out the popular trivia night (each Wednesday, starts at 7:30PM).
  • 5 Beach Hotel, Fredrick Street, Merewether. A Newcastle institution. The place to be on Sunday night is sitting on the front deck overlooking Merewether Beach at sunset with a locally brewed Bluetounge Beer.
  • 6 Gateway Hotel, Maitland Rd, Islington. The local establishment frequented by Newcastle's gay & lesbian community. The venue features a rotating mix of local and Sydney DJs, special events, drag shows and feature performers, featuring a nightclub (Club G), main bar and bistro.
  • 7 Cambridge Hotel, 789 Hunter St, Newcastle West, +61 2 49622459. Newcastle's premier live venue plays host to the best national and international touring bands. Enjoy cheap drinks and great music while meeting friendly locals.
  • 8 The Clarendon Hotel, 347 Hunter St, +61 2 4907 6700. Voted best pub style accommodation in Australia in 2009, this venue is a great place to have a drink or a meal at their restaurant that offers good food at reasonable prices. They also host the Sundae Fundaze event several times a year with a number of world class dance music acts.
  • 9 MJ Finnegans Irish Pub, Cnr. Darby and King street. One of the most popular night spots on Friday and Saturday nights. Not really an Irish pub anymore.
  • 10 Prince of Merewether Hotel, 1 Morgan Street, Merewether, +61 2 4963 1722. Modern bar and club popular with locals of Newcastle's beach suburb. Causal atmosphere and bistro food available.



As the largest town in the Hunter, Newcastle has a wide range of accommodation options. Parking campers overnight at the beaches is prohibited, but still occurs to a certain extent.




  • Hotel Ibis Newcastle, 700 Hunter Street, +61 2 4925 2266, fax: +61 2 4925 3377, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Close to the heart of the Newcastle CBD, the hotel is an easy stroll to the Regional Museum, art galleries, Civic Theatre, Civic Playhouse, Newcastle's popular Honeysuckle and Queens Wharf harbour foreshore and retail precinct. $99-149 a night.
  • Reign Inn Newcastle, 309 Maitland Road Mayfield. With family, twin share and double rooms, plus cable TV, in-room Internet connectivity, direct dial phone, clock radio, coffee- and tea-making facilities. $94.
  • 2 Blackbutt Hotel, 80 Orchardtown Rd, New Lambton, +61 2 4957 3454, . Clean and quiet motel rooms above a pub, close to Blackbutt Reserve. Rooms only sleep 2, you will need to book multiple rooms for a family. $135.
  • Holiday Inn Express Newcastle, an IHG Hotel, 514 King St, +61 2 4064 8888, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. A hotel very close to the train station and has unlimited breakfast.





Good walking shoes are required for the CBD as many streets are steep slopes. Use the walkways or footbridges to get to and from the CBD and the Foreshore. Make sure you note the Historic Markers in the CBD as they make sense of the magic that is Newcastle.

Go next


Newcastle is a good base for exploring various nearby destinations.

  • Hunter Valley - Australia's oldest wine-producing region; the town of Cessnock, adjacent to the Lower Hunter wine region (including the Pokolbin district) is a 50-minute drive from the Newcastle CBD.
  • Port Stephens - featuring Nelson Bay, a 45 minute drive north of the Newcastle CBD and famous for its holiday lifestyle and beaches, and for whale and dolphin watching.
  • Barrington Tops National Park - a protected area which contains World Heritage listed wilderness, to the north of the Hunter Valley.
  • Myall Lakes National Park - for camping and water activities of the lower Mid-North Coast.
  • Central Coast - a coastal urban-rural region 1 and a half hours' drive south of Newcastle, filled with holiday towns expansive beaches, great for surfing and national park walks, with Gosford as the main hub.
  • Additionally, Sydney, Australia's most cosmopolitan city can be easily reached by train or car, while its approximately 2 and a half hours' drive south-west of Newcastle.
Routes via Newcastle
SydneyCentral Coast SSW M1 NNE  Myall Lakes National ParkPort Macquarie
TamworthSingleton NW M15 SE  END
BranxtonMaitland NW A43 S  Lake MacquarieCentral Coast
MorissetToronto SW B53 NE  END
END SW B63 NE  Port Stephens
END N  CCN  S  Lake MacquarieSydney
SconeMaitland WNW  HUN – Scone Branch  E  END
DungogMaitland NW  HUN – Dungog Branch  E  END

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