Poor old Sydney must be feeling a dagger in the back. Once again they have not made the Lonely Planet’s must visit destination for 2011, instead being overlooked by the much smaller, industrial town of Newcastle.
y Travel Blog has known about this little treasure for years and are often heard recommending to many backpackers in Oz that they jump on a train two hours north of Australia’s biggest city and spend some time in Newcastle. It has everything Sydney does, but on a much smaller scale.
Newcastle’s beaches are pristine and beautiful. Walk a couple of blocks from the main street of town and you are at Nobby’s which sits at the mouth of the river. The surf is a little wild, but with clear water and fresh temperatures it is a great city beach.
Around the corner from here you have the Ocean Baths, perfect for those early morning laps. Further along the coast road is the popular and well known Merewether Beach. Surfers will not be let down with the breaks to be found here as we recently saw on our attendance to the LCPC surf Pro contest.
Newcastle is a university town, combine this with Coastal living and you are going to find a rocking nightlife. Newcastle was always a big night out when I was in my early twenties. Groups of friends would jump on the train for the evening to hit the Brewery for some drinks on the riverfront before dancing the night away in the many clubs in the city. It was always a hoot. And with it being a Uni town, there are plenty of young, single men and women around for all those frisky travellers.
Fabulous Restaurants and cafes
It was only on our recent trip to Newcastle that we ventured down funky inner city Darby St. Restaurants and cafes lined side by side by locals and visitors alike enjoying some delicious food in the Sunday afternoon sun.
We were not disappointed with our Prawn and calamari salad
and Mexican fish cakes–simply divine.
Kalyra was happy with her smoothie and chocolate brownie.
I recently had lunch in Newcastle with Craig’s family. Scratchleys is a takeaway seafood that is pretty cheap and really delicious. I had a calamari and chips pack for $9 which was huge and filling, enough for two people. The calamari was fresh and scrumptious.
Laid Back Friendly Ambiance
You have to really remind yourself you are in a city when you wander the streets and boardwalk along the Hunter River. There seems to be an absence of people, or it might just be the lack of hectic pace that makes you feel you are in a small coastal village. The leisurely pace here is really contagious as is the friendly and relaxed attitude of the people you do meet wandering around the streets.
I remarked to my mother how strange I found it that we could not find a cafe to have brunch at Mereweather. “Yep, that is Newcastle, it is very old Australia. It is sleepy and undeveloped even though its a city. I like it like that.”
Proximity to other travel attractions
Newcastle is within half an hour driving distance to many other great travel attractions. Just down the river is the Hunter Valley, where you can participate in amazing wine tours or hot air balloon rides over the valley.
To the north is Nelson’s Bay, a popular coastal place in Port Stephens to visit for fishing and whale watching tours. There are the sand dunes of Stockton for some adventurous dune buggy riding and beautiful beaches of Fingal and Anna Bay.