Newcastle is the second biggest city in New South Wales and boasts a plethora of tourism attractions to suit all tastes. When holidaying in the Hunter Valley most visitors take at least one trip to the city. From towns in the valley such as Singleton and Wollembi it only takes one hour to drive to Newcastle.
Hunter Line trains run four times daily from Singleton and stop at stations such as Maitland en route. The train takes around the same time as driving, but has the advantage of going right into downtown. The main station is just a stone’s throw from many of the major draws in town and the legendary Nobbys Beach.
The town is a mecca for sports fans and hosts major league soccer, ice-hockey and rugby league teams. Broadmeadow Track has more than 30 horseracing meets a year. Surfest is a two-week celebration of Australia’s most iconic activity held at Merewether Beach every June. When the event is not in progress, surfers from all over the world flock to Merewether to enjoy its fabulous swells.
Merewether and Nobbys are the best known of a portfolio of eight golden beaches along the shoreline. Nobbys is noted for its kite-surfing and Bar Beach for swimming. Newcastle Ocean Baths are an art deco masterpiece and suitable for a swim on windy days.
Fort Scratchley is an old-time defence facility sitting on a hill above Nobbys Beach. The views from here are simply sublime. Guided tours of the WWII tunnels below the fort are an essential activity. The Junction is one of the city’s shopping zones. Boutiques and specialty shops offer a diverse choice of clothing and mementos.
Newcastle Art Gallery is the flagship of a good choice of visual arts institutions. It houses a fine collection of modern Australian paintings and exhibits. The Maritime Centre and the city museum are both close to the harbour. The museum is actually housed in refurbished railway workshops. It has a varied collection with lots of interactive items to keep the kids amused.
Nobby’s Head is a picturesque promontory separating the mouth of the Hunter River from the Tasman Sea. The beach on the south side of the headland is one of the better known landmarks. Lifeguards patrol the beach and it provides a safe environment to bathe in the balmy waters of the Tasman for families with young children.
Merewether Beach (pictured above) is renowned for its great surfing. Nobby’s Beach is where local surfers learn before attempting the higher waves at Merewether.
Kitesurfers have also started using the waters off Nobby’s in recent times and the sight of them soaring above the waves is a magical sight. There is an old causeway here which offers pleasant views back to the headland.
Apart from car parking spaces and public toilets, the headland does not have much in the way of facilities. It’s a good job that it only takes five minutes to walk from the rail terminus to Nobby’s Beach.
The route takes people past the historic defence facility of Fort Scratchley. The panoramic views from the fort are worth making a detour for.
Nobby’s is at one end of the Bather’s Way coastal walking path. This five-kilometre route links the chief beaches, as well as the iconic art-deco city lido and Shepherd’s Hill Reserve, before terminating at Merewether. Due to its popularity, many tourists taking holidays in the Hunter Valley find themselves heading into town to see what all the fuss is about.
Even from as far afield as the valley towns of Wollemi or Singleton, it rarely takes longer than one hour to drive in.
There are suburban buses from most of the holiday hubs in the locality which terminate at the main bus station near the harbour. The city’s railway terminus is located here too. Hunter Line services run from Singleton and Greta to Newcastle four times daily in each direction.