48 hours in Newcastle
RISE AND SHINE
Family fun in Newcastle
MORNING CYCLE AROUND
Wake to the blast of the ship horns coming into Newcastle harbour.
Make your way to Nobbys Beach where surfers suit up for an early morning wave. Hire a bike from Newcastle’s electric bike share BYKKO and head south along Shortland Esplanade (the Bathers Way) where hopeful pelicans await breakfast from fisherman at the Cowrie Hole.
Just a bit further on watch swimmers crawling through the water at the Newcastle Ocean Baths with its distinctive art deco facade. Stop for coffee and breakfast overlooking Newcastle Beach at Estabar or Liquid Gold and you’re ready for a great day exploring Newcastle.
*Grab an Insta-snap inside the tunnel beneath the road at Newcastle Beach where you’ll find a colourful mural by local artist Trevor Dickinson.
FISH AND CHIPS
Grab some fish and chips from Scotties, the Kiosk or Scratchleys and share a chip or two with the seagulls.
Afterwards head for the Newcastle Museum at Honeysuckle. Explore the city’s indigenous Awabakal roots to a history forged by convicts, coal and steel. Kids will love the hands-on science centre Supernova and Mininova Gallery.
If you want to get out on the water book a coastal sightseeing or whale watching cruise (June-November) with CoastXP departing from Honeysuckle Foreshore.
Book in for a tour of the tunnels at historic Fort Scratchley standing proudly on Flagstaff Hill. A resounding boom echoes across the city daily (aside from Tuesday when the fort is closed) from the historic fort as two-pound cannons are fired at the same time the ball on Customs House drops.
Afterwards Newcastle’s magnificent King Edward Park awaits. Let the kids loose on the playground while you take in the stunning coastal vistas. At dusk make for Strzelecki Lookout and take a stroll along the magnificent clifftop Anzac Memorial Walk with its 360-degree vistas of Newcastle’s coastline to the Hunter Valley beyond.
Note: Fort Scratchley is temporarily closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Newcastle's cultural charms
COFFEE AND STREET ART
Arrive into Newcastle (or Newy as it is affectionately known). Built on the back of convicts and forged by fire and steel, NSW's second largest city is midway through a mighty metamorphous.
Make your way first to the inner-city suburb of Wickham where on Greenway Street surrounded by street art you’ll find Dark Horse Espresso. Enjoy coffee and friendly banter before popping next door to the House of Lita, a fashion and homewares store that sells beautiful artwork including works by local artist Kiasmin Betina (you can find her works scattered across Newcastle).
From there check into your sustainably luxurious room at the city’s newest five star hotel, Crystalbrook Kingsley. With the best of the city’s cultural experiences on its doorstep the Kingsley celebrates both Newcastle's past and its extraordinary future.
ARCHITECTURE AND COCKTAILS
This afternoon take a wander along King Street to Newcastle’s historic east end admiring the heritage listed Watt and Church Street Terraces enroute.
Continue across Watt St and down Shortland Esplanade before popping in for a drink with the locals at cool bars like the Falcon or Saints Gin Bar. Order an "East End Ice Tea" inspired by Newcastle Beach on a summer's day.
Rise and shine. After breakfast at The Kingsley’s rooftop Roundhouse restaurant take a stroll to The Station via the harbour foreshore which bustles with tug boats, freighters and yachts with billowing sails.
Newcastle’s former railway platform is now a grand outdoor event space complete with piazza, kids scooter track, retail and heritage charm in spades.
Browse the Homegrown Markets, the custom made designs of JTaranaki Jewellery or pop into Make Space, an experimental creative workshop and gallery operated by a collective of award-winning local artisans.
Afterwards stroll back for coffee at Mr Sister located in the newly opened East End Village. Owners Garth and sister Bec have brought their caffeine prowess back to the CBD after selling One Penny Black (another great café) six years ago.
Neighbouring Studio Melt and Honest Paper are also worth a browse.
On your way back to The Kingsley, see Sandra Minter-Caldwell’s evocative sculpture of five, life size figures depicting Newcastle’s migrant heritage while adjacent to Newcastle Local Court is a whimsical bronze statue of a paparazzi dog and rabbit woman by Gillie and Marc.
*The Olive Tree Market, Newcastle’s longest running market, is another must see market, usually held on the first Saturday of the month in Civic Park. Shop for local and ethically made goods and contemporary art while soaking up the quintessential Newcastle vibe.
DINNER AND A SHOW
After some downtime, head to Coal River and Co in Darby Street or Asa Don in King Street for an early pre-show.
Then make way to the Civic Theatre – home to a fantastic line-up of local and national acts. Considered one of NSW’s finest theatre buildings designed by Henry Eli White, architect of Sydney's State and Capitol Theatres, the Civic Theatre is The Kingsley’s next door neighbour.
While you’re there admire Herb Gallop’s iconic painting of Nobbys Beach in the lobby. This iconic painting is the inspiration for local mural artist Bronte Naylor’s vintage seaside scene ‘Mirror Ocean’ in Civic Square.
Explore Newcastle’s abundance of 19th and 20th century buildings on a self-guided architecture walk.
The 2.2 km walking tour takes in City Hall, Newcastle Art Gallery (Australia’s first purpose built regional art gallery) and the Frederick Menkens designed Baptist Tabernacle with its elaborate neo-classical Corinthian façade inspired by the Spurgeon Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.
A highlight is Miss Porter’s House, a distinctive 1910’s Edwardian Terrace which was the lifelong home of Ella and Hazel Porter. The building retains Edwardian and 1940s period furnishings, unique stencilled ceilings and thousands of objects acquired by the sisters over the decades. Bequeathed to the National Trust of Australia (NSW) it’s open to the public on the second Sunday of the month.
After exploring this snapshot of pre-1950s life in Newcastle pop into Papa’s Bagel Bar for brunch. You’ll find this funky New York style bagel café with its open kitchen and vinyl spinning on the corner of Devonshire and Hunter Streets, around a 200m walk away.
After checking out of the Kingsley, stroll around the corner to Newcastle artist Mitch Revs’ Gallery and unleash your inner artist. Professional artists will guide participants through this fun step-by-step Pinot and Picasso class involving singing, painting and sipping.
Masterpiece in hand, it’s time to bid adieu to Newy and its cultural riches till next time.
Couples guide to Newcastle
Suitably sated, check into one of the 130 elegant rooms and suites at the newly opened five star Crystalbrook Kingsley. Situated in Newcastle’s landmark ‘Roundhouse’ building, Newcastle’s first five star hotel offers sustainable luxury in the city’s former council administrative headquarters.
Make for The Edwards, owned by former Silverchair bass player Chris Joannou. Novocastrian born-and-bred Joannou is also co-owner of The Criterion Hotel and lauded eatery Flotilla but the much-loved Edwards is where his hospitality journey began.
Having literally risen from the ashes of a fire which saw it closed for just over a year, The Edwards is housed in a former dry cleaning business owned by Joannou’s parents in the post-industrial streetscape of Newcastle’s West End. Both the food and welcome are as warm as a summer’s day at this local fixture. Try the Spanner crab omelette, XO sauce, ginger and shallot or tuck into a signature Eddies burger on the farm to plate menu washed down with a local ale.
DRINKS AND A SHOW
As the sun sinks head for the striking rooftop bar Romberg’s (at Crystalbrook Kingsley) for a drink and then wander hand in hand over to the heritage listed Civic Theatre next door for a show.
NEWY BICYCLE TOUR
After breakfast at The Kingsley’s rooftop Roundhouse restaurant head for Nobbys Beach.
Ben Ogden from Newy Rides will be waiting with a glass of locally made Dirt Candy wine in hand. His ‘Essentials X The Burbs’ cycle tour starts with a ride along Nobbys Breakwall, skirts the harbour and takes in street art from Newcastle’s inaugural Big Picture Fest including Fintan Magee’s large-scale Shadow at Museum Park.
Participants ride on to the harbourside village of Carrington for a craft beer or gin tasting at either Styx Brewery or Earps Distillery (itineraries change).
SMOKIN' BBQ LUNCH
Finish your Newy Rides bike tour with authentic Texan BBQ served up from an orange bus.
After some downtime, make your way to Signal Box, another of Newcastle’s foodie finds.
Housed in an historic working railway signal box Signal Box’s minimalist steel and concrete dining pavilion pays homage to its industrial past while a rooftop space offers city vistas and glimpses of the old signalling and lever gear.
The repurposed space now offers a contemporary Modern Australian bistro menu where almost everything is made from scratch. Think kingfish ceviche or perhaps a hearty vegie curry made from fresh local produce served with coconut yoghurt and flat bread. Wash it down with some of the Hunter Valley’s best wines.
CALL FOR LATE CHECKOUT
From the Signal Box it’s a flat 10-minute stroll along the Market Street Lawn precinct home to The Kingsley, alternatively you can catch the Light Rail one stop from Queens Wharf to Civic Station.
Before you hit the sheets, make sure you call reception and ask for a late checkout in the morning.
MORNING WALK STARTING AT NEWCASTLE BEACH
Rise and shine and make for the Newcastle Beach, the start of the glorious six-kilometre Bathers Way. From The Kingsley, jump on the light rail stopping at Newcastle Beach.
Follow the footpath along the coastline, taking in rolling Pacific Ocean vistas, passing King Edward Park, Bogey Hole and the former Shepherds Hill military complex.
MORNING WALK ENDING AT THE STEEL SILHOUETTES
Finish the walk when you see the steel silhouettes. No trip to Newcastle is complete without visiting this spectacular 450m walkway, that was built in 2015 to mark the centenary of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli.
The steel silhouettes of soldiers are inscribed with the family names of almost 11,000 Hunter Valley servicemen and women who enlisted during World War One.
BRUNCH AND BOUTIQUES
Make your way to the popular Cooks Hill cafe, the Autumn Rooms. Choose the leafy rear courtyard or head upstairs overlooking the bustling streetscape where light pours through the windows. The menu ranges from dishes like ‘Morning Greens’ topped with a Cornucopia biodynamic egg or house made crumpets with poached pears, walnut praline and creme fraiche. Expect great coffee, award-winning tea (the ginger bread chai is a winner). If you’re feeling celebratory (you’re on holidays after all) order a Moscow Mule.
Afterwards browse Darby Street’s boutiques (explore Blackbird Corner, Abicus and Steel and Anchor to name but a few)
Check out and head home bidding adieu to Newy - till next time that is.
BOOK YOUR FLIGHT
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