For Sydney city slickers looking to escape the urban jungle and seeking a relaxed beachside break, Newcastle provides a bustling and friendly base just two hours north of Sydney while also offering a raft of cultural, culinary, unique activities and events to choose from.
From outdoor fun in the sun to a lively nightlife party scene, historic exhibits and sensational surf action – the challenge will be finding the time to squeeze it all in.
For arts and culture lovers, Newcastle is home to many emerging artists, whose works are showcased at Curve Gallery, Cooks Hill Galleries and The Lock Up Cultural Centre, just to name a few; while the Newcastle Art Gallery, which boasts nearly 5000 works of art and has a reputation for holding one of Australia’s finest regional collections. This includes works from the likes of Brett Whiteley and travelling exhibitions from acclaimed artists such as thought-provoking sculptor, Patricia Piccinini, who will be showcasing two never before seen sculptures at the gallery in her Like Us: Patricia Piccinini exhibition from 29 November 2014 to February 2015.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Merewether Beach and the adjacent Merewether Ocean Baths (the largest ocean baths in the Southern hemisphere) is the perfect place to relax. Grab a bite to eat at Merewether Surfhouse – which offers amazing coastal views, and be sure to check out the Merewether Tunnel mural by local artist Trevor Dickinson. The Newcastle Foreshore, home to the historic Fort Scratchley, Nobbys Beach, Nobbys Lighthouse and Newcastle’s working harbour, is also not to be missed.
Time your trip during February to coincide with the nation’s largest surfing festival – Surfest, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2015. If you’re a soccer fan, love your sport or simply adore street-party atmosphere, January 2015 will see Newcastle in football frenzy for the AFC Asian Cup, complete with an entertainment quarter along Honeysuckle Foreshore buzzing with food stalls, entertainment, an Asian Cup activity dome and more.
Food lovers will enjoy the fabulous dining and eateries peppered throughout the city. One not to miss is Reserve Wine Bar (recently voted Australia’s Best Small Bar at the Savour Australia Restaurant and Catering awards) along Hunter Street and Bar Petite (5/5 King Street) with its electric vibe and not to be missed acoustic live music from various artists, as well as recently opened Central, occupying the premise of the former hatted restaurant, Bacchus, in King Street. Claiming the name the building was given when it was built in 1903 – Central Hall - Central offers diners a relaxed atmosphere, a range of craft beers and ciders, and tasty simple food. Newcastle is also home to two hatted restaurants – Subo (551D Hunter Street) and Restaurant Mason (3/35 Hunter Street), both worth a visit.
Shopping enthusiasts will revel in the many chic boutiques and quirky vintage stores scattered across the city. Wander down Darby Street and pop into one-of-a-kind stores Blackbird Corner (70 Darby Street), High Tea with Mrs Woo (74 Darby Street) and Abicus (103 Darby Street). Or head to Islington (corner of Beaumont Street and Maitland Road) to find fantastic antique and bric-a-brac shopping.
For further information on the huge range of events scheduled in Newcastle this summer, visit www.visitnewcastle.com.au/