Before discussing Newcastle’s many attractions (it’s very hard to pick just three) it’s worth talking about the general ambience of the place. There’s something unique about Newcastle. It exists at an amazing crossroad between everything that makes Australia special. It has all of the infrastructure and facilities of a major city, including trendy areas like Beaumont Street with hip cafes and bars, yet it’s infused with the friendliness and laid-back atmosphere of a country town. The coastal lifestyle of the perpetually tanned beach-goers mixes perfectly with the down-to-earth industrial workers who made Newcastle a blue collar capital.
This is a fascinating historical site that is a must-see for any Newcastle visitor. It was first built in the 19th Century when there were fears of an attack by Russia, and was especially useful during the world wars. In fact, it became the only Australian coastal fortification to fire on an enemy vessel when it launched two salvos at a Japanese submarine that bombarded Newcastle in 1942.
You’ll get a special thrill exploring the dark tunnels of Fort Scratchley, tracing the footsteps of the brave young soldiers who were ready to fend off the attack that could come at any moment. Make sure you take one of the guided tours, led by friendly experts, and don’t miss the various museum rooms that are full of artefacts from the fort’s history.
We agonised over which beach to name as an attraction, but simply couldn’t pick one. There are too many. From Nobbys with its breakwall to Merewether’s famous ocean baths, from the iconic Newcastle Beach to the dog-friendly Redhead. All are worth visiting and you should make a special effort to visit a few of them. One of the best methods to experience them is the Bathers Way, a six-kilometre walk that includes the spectacular cliff-top Memorial Walk.
If you’re a surfer, Newcastle is definitely one of the cities that should be on your bucket list, as it’s home to four-time World Surfing Champion Mark Richards and Malibu Surfboard Riding Champion Martin McMillan (their favourite beach is Merewether). However, if you’re more of a relaxing beach-goer you should check out Bogey Hole, where waves crash into a pool that was cut into the rock by convict labour in 1819.
The Hunter region
This is not technically a Newcastle attraction, but its one of those areas that everybody should visit at least once in their life and Newcastle is the perfect base from which to launch your exploration. Its wineries are world-famous, while its cellar door sales will let you experience the best drop of wine at a fraction of the price it sells elsewhere.
There are plenty of tours that depart from Newcastle, happily picking you up from Adamstown Motor Inn and dropping you off again once your winery fun is over. This is the best way to fully enjoy the many unique wines that are on offer without any concern about how to get back to your bed.