Newcastle offers plenty for everyone. Here are ten essential experiences...

Explore Bathers Way

The long, winding and spectacularly beautiful path from Honeysuckle to Nobbys Beach known as Bathers Way is perhaps the quintessential Newcastle experience. Foreshore Park is a picnic ground with views of the harbour, while the Bogey Hole rockpool and Lumber Yard evoke the convict past. Walked, jogged or biked, this lustrous stretch of coastline captures the collision of natural wonders and pioneering industry that make Newcastle one of the world’s unique and vibrant cities.

Get the skinny at Newcastle Museum

In a city moving forward so fast it pays to look back. And where better than this beautiful contemporary museum?

Gaze ’N’ Graze on Darby Street’s Diner Mile

Eat streets don’t get trendier or tastier than here. Studded with fashion gems in the form of galleries and boutiques, this feast for the eyes is matched by the cornucopia of restaurants and cafes on offer. Many cuisines are represented – Thai, Turkish, Italian, Greek, Mediterranean and Mexican – most utilising local produce, all with sensational results. Equally popular are the cafés: colourful, kooky, and jammed with characters sipping sublime house roasts and savouring sweet cakes and artisan bread.

Do the tunnel tour at Fort Scratchley

Built in 1882 to defend Newcastle against a feared Russian invasion, this fascinating military site offers a labyrinth of tunnels open to the public via hourly 45-minute guided tours. 

Catch some culture with a hot ticket show

Theatre, ballet, buskers, club nights, live bands, major festivals... entertainment is everywhere in Newcastle and it’s happening daily, day and night. The Civic Theatre, built in 1929, is an Australian classic, hosting everyone from Dame Nellie Melba to the Jacksons, while Lizotte’s in Lambton offers shows by international acts with dinner in tow.
Meanwhile, local bands look to emulate the world-beating feats of hometown heroes like Silverchair by strumming in pubs like the Cambridge and Great Northern while global DJ stars spin the night away at King Street Hotel.

Do the town via a bohemian bar crawl 

Newcastle has always been a thirsty town but a new wave of watering holes has sparked up its bar scene. The fine bones of old buildings are being dusted off by youthful bar tsars intent on bringing sophisticated drinks, inspired food, quirky decor and fantastic entertainment to the fore. Check out 5 Sawyers (115 Darby St), The Landing (1 Honeysuckle Dr), Bar Petite (5/5 King St), Terrace Bar (529 Hunter St) and the Grain Store (64 Scott St) – great bars showcasing the local craft beers and wines.

Get off the beaten track at Blackbutt Reserve

Blackbutt is 182 hectares of natural habitat – nature trails, wildlife exhibits, children’s facilities, picnic grounds and vast tracts of untouched native scrub.

Shop ’til you drop on Hunter Street Mall

Newcastle’s cultural renaissance has been fueled in large part by Renew Newcastle, an innovative mob of movers and shakers who take vacant, disused or derelict spaces in the CBD and lend them to artists, cultural projects and community groups to activate shops, talks, shows and more. The success of the programme is that the empty urban tract that was once Hunter Street Mall has become a pulsating network of studios, boutiques, and quirky retail outlets injecting life into the city. Look no further than the Emporium, once the city’s biggest department store, but now a haven for mixed media art, interactive design, hand-hewn crafts and endless curiosities.

Sip the “black mile” of cafés in Newcastle East

Coal used to be the darkest seam scything through Newcastle, but the new boom resource is coffee. Cafés are bubbling into life on corners, in malls and arcades and as holes-in-the-wall all over town, many using locally-roasted beans, some running on recycled bio-fuels and plenty offering “suspended coffees” (donated cuppas for the less fortunate). The best black magic is in the east, home to cafés One Penny Black, Good Brother, Sprocket, Estabar, Ground Floor, Soul Foods and many more.

Take a segway tour through Hunter Wetlands

Internationally regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful and unique wetlands, this breathtaking ecosystem of 45 hectares is brimming with life.
You can explore alone or with a guide, on foot or by kayak, bike or segway. 


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First published on 29 Aug 2013. Updated on 10 Mar 2014.

By Time Out Melbourne editors   |  

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