You probably know about Newcastle’s industrial past, but perhaps you are less familiar with its fine collection of heritage buildings, the fact that Newcastle lies on one of the most beautiful stretches of surf beaches in Australia and its peaceful backdrop of the Hunter Valley’s beautiful vineyards.
If you have a car (or have hired one) there are several day trips and activities to do in and around Newcastle including:
Things to do in Newcastle
- Blackbutt Reserve: Blackbutt Reserve gives visitors the chance to enjoy nature trails, wildlife exhibitions,children’s playgrounds and picnic areas. It’s the perfect place to unwind and explore the wonders of nature, whilst interacting with the native Australian animals, including Kangaroos, wombats, wallabies, koalas and many more (approx.20 minute drive from the conference venue).
- Hunter Wetlands Centre: An internationally recognised wetland centre where you can see birds, animals,reptiles and plants. There are plenty of walking and riding tracks to choose from and even the option of canoeing. Entry fee is $5 and canoe hire for 2 hours is $10 per paddler (approx. 22 minute drive from the conference venue).
- Tree Tops Adventure Park: A family day out where you can swing in the trees and climb like Tarzan as you mauver your way through a sky-high obstacle course. There are courses for every age range beginning at 3 years. Adult (18 years +) price is $48 (approx. 40 minute drive from the conference venue).
- Bushwalking in Glenrock: Only a short drive (approx. 20 minutes) from Newcastle City Centre, Glenrock State Conservation Area is a beautiful coastal rainforest offering a number of scenic trails.
- Cycle the Fernleigh Track: A historic rail track that is now a cycleway linking Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. The 15 km track passes through beautiful bush land, wetland forests, and coastal heaths (starts approx. 30 minute drive from the conference venue). Bikes can be hired from $14 for 1 hour, $32 for 2-4 and up to $48 for 1 day. More information on bike hire can be found here.
- Shopping: there are some local shops around Newcastle but if you’re looking to go shopping at a larger shopping centre there are two major options: Westfield Kotara (approx. 9 minute drive) and Charlestown Square (approx. 15 minutes).
Things to do around Newcastle
- Hunter Valley Vineyards: A drive down the Hunter expressway will take you to the Hunter Valley Vineyards where you can find exceptional restaurants and even try world class wine from numerous vineyards and gardens – perfect for a day out (approx.. 1 hr drive).
- Port Stephens and Nelson Bay: Port Stephens and Nelson Bay are a major holiday playground that offers the chance to swim with dolphins, do some whale watching and visit beautiful beaches. You can also walk to the top of Tomaree Head Summit where you will see breath taking views of Port Stephens and the north coast. The walk is 2.2 km return (approx. 1 hr drive to Port Stephens/Nelson Bay from Newcastle).
- Stockton Sand Dunes: Stockton Beach is the longest beach in NSW stretching 32 km long and presents the largest sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. It is a popular spot for sand board riding and 4WD tours (approx. 25 minute drive from Newcastle to the southern end of the beach).
- Barrington Tops National Park:Carved out of ancient volcanic flows, this is one of the largest temperate rainforests in mainland Australia. It is a World Heritage-listed rainforest that has excellent walking tracks with plenty of picnic and barbecue areas to enjoy (approx. a 1 hr and 50 minute drive).