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’re sticking around after the meeting, discover some of the reasons you’ll never want to leave:
Things to Do In Newcastle
Nature and Sports
• Head to the Beach and Ocean Baths: Newcastle’s city centre is surrounded by six major beaches, with popular swimming, surfing and fishing locations. This includes:
–Newcastle Beach: Spot whales and dolphins during migration season.
–Nobbys Beach: Popular surfing and family beach. This is where the Pasha Bulker ran ashore during the 2007 storms.
–Mereweather Beach: Home to the annual International Surfest competition and has amazing views.
–Dixon Park Beach: A quiet beach perfect for children and family picnics.
–Bar Beach: Excellent swimming beach.
–Mereweather Ocean baths: Redevelopment work has just finished on these baths
• The Obelisk: This is a popular park and lookout with expansive 360 degree views of Newcastle.
• Visit the Bogey Hole: Cut into ocean rocks by convicts for Commandant James Morisset’s personal use in 1820, it has become a popular swimming spot that provides a spectacular vantage point to view the Newcastle Coastline – particularly if you don’t like getting sand in your shoes!
• The Bathers Way Path: Walk Bathers Way to get your heart rate up first thing or to unwind at the end of the day. Stretching from the lighthouse at Nobbys Headland to Merewether Ocean Baths, this wide walkway engages you in Newcastle’s indigenous and convict heritage surrounded by amazing views. About 5k.
• Learn to Surf: Ever wanted to try surfing? Newcastle is the perfect place to learn. Newcastle Surf School operates all year round and is the most experienced surf school in Newcastle. Lessons start at $40pp. http://www.newcastlesurfschool.com
• Newcastle Art Gallery: This is one of the best regional galleries in Australia, in a city known for its artistic activities and talent. Special exhibitions at the time of the conference include Sodeisha: connected to Australia, a celebration of ceramic artists from Australia and Japan. Free entry; some special exhibitions incur a charge.
• Watt Space: The University of Newcastle’s student art gallery hosts exhibitions that support emerging student artists and is open to the public from 11-5pm Wednesday to Sunday. It’s in Auckland St, in the University Law and Commerce building just before you get to the City Hall. Free entry.
History and Culture
• Shipwreck Walk: A ferry trip from Queens Wharf to Stockton, followed by a short walk from the ferry terminal and you will arrive at the break wall. Numerous ships were lost during the 19th and early 20th centuries and the hulk of these ships have been incorporated into the break wall.
• Newcastle Museum: Located within the Honeysuckle Precinct, Newcastle Museum brings to life significant moments of past, present and future in three major permanent exhibitions. Discover the character of the city in A Newcastle Story, learn about the industrial heart of the Hunter in Fire and Earth and take the kids for some fun science play in Supernova. Check out museum website for information on special exhibitions. Free admission to permanent exhibitions; special exhibitions may incur a charge.
• Fort Scratchley: Built in the 1800s, this is the only Australian coastal fortification to fire on an enemy vessel. Take a self-guided tour around the barracks and above ground defence structures, or a paid tour of the full site including the tunnels. Open all days except Tuesdays. Tours start at $12.50. Unfortunately not suitable for wheelchairs, walkers, prams, and strollers due to stairs and narrow hallways.
• Christ Church Cathedral: Located in Church Street, this Cathedral is a place of beauty and grandeur making it one of Newcastle’s most iconic landmarks.
• Visit the local shops: Head to Darby Street to explore local boutiques and meet the homegrown designers. Stay for a delicious meal or snack. If you just need to pick up everyday necessities, you’ll find what you’re after at Marketown.
• The Olive Tree Markets: Packed with delicious foods from every corner of the globe, a wide variety of artwork, clothing, jewellery, homewares, and many other unique artisan products, the Olive Tree Markets are a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning. If you will be staying for a few days after the meeting, you will find them at Civic Park (in front of the Art Gallery) on the first Saturday of the month, 9am-3pm.
Things to Do Around Newcastle
If you have a car (or have hired one) there are several day trips and activities to do in and around Newcastle including:
• 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).
• 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).