December 15, 2020
New South Wales' second largest city is nipping at Sydney's heels when it comes to creative shops, nightlife and local eats this summer. Grab your swimmers, Newcastle beckons.
There’s no question, Newcastle is a magical city. It’s the birthplace of Aussie rock legends Silverchair, after all. And, just like that seminal band from the 90s, the city continues to push the envelope and forge exciting new territory. From eclectic vintage stores to buzzing craft breweries, Newcastle has become an avant-garde cultural hub which gives graffiti-plenty Melbourne a run for its money. To top it off, it’s home to some of the best beaches in Australia.
But, when planning your summertime escapade to Newy, what are the must-sees? Together with Destination NSW, we’ve found the top things to eat, drink, see and do in Newcastle this summer.
Please stay up to date with the latest NSW Government health advice regarding COVID-19.
While there’s never a bad time to visit Newcastle, the city’s renowned beaches and breathtaking coastal walks are best enjoyed in summer. The warm weather lends itself to all manner of outdoor activities, from catching waves and taking a scenic ride through town to perusing design markets.
Newy’s a great place to base yourself if you’re road tripping down the east coast and want to explore the Hunter and Port Stephens regions. It’ll take you about eight hours to drive there from Brisbane — or you can hop on a flight and you’ll arrive in under 90 minutes.
While summer can be an expensive time to travel, if you’re thrifty you can plan a holiday on the cheap. Newcastle has a throng of accommodation options — from luxe beachside hotels to affordable Airbnb stays — so you’re sure to find a place to suit your budget.
EAT: FRESH SEAFOOD BY THE WATER’S EDGE
One of the best parts about a beachside holiday is the promise of top-notch fish and chips. Satiate those seaside cravings with an upscale fry-up at Scotties. Miles apart from the corner shop’s greasy Chiko rolls, this joint serves up sustainable sea-to-plate fare with a refined edge. The menu boasts an array of locally caught seafood, hand-cut chips, scallops and calamari rings, as well as a classic chip butty for just $6 that’s not to be missed. To up the ante on your holiday feed, take your seafood feast to nearby Nobbys Beach and enjoy the incredible ocean views.
EAT: SEASONAL FARE AT A FINE DINER
When it comes time for a spot of decadent dining, Newcastle has a couple of hatted venues up its sleeve that are sure to impress. Opt for the three-course tasting menu at seafood-focused fine diner Restaurant Mason. At $85 per person, the feast puts the very best of the Hunter region directly onto your plate, including fresh scallops and steamed market fish. In a similar fashion, fellow hatted restaurant Subo makes the most of Newcastle’s verdant environment and boasts a five-course set menu ($100 per person) dictated by what produce is fresh and in season.
DRINK: TOP LOCAL WINES AND CRAFT BEERS
Beer lovers can unite at Foghorn Brewhouse, Newcastle’s first and only onsite craft brewery, established in 2014. To honour your time in the city, order a pint of the Newy Pale Ale — it’s a fresh, fruity beer and extremely drinkable. Continue on your craft beer journey to The Grain Store, a bar that is dedicated to pouring 100-percent independently owned Aussie brews, from the likes of Bentspoke and Deeds. Not a beer drinker? The Falcon and The Ship Inn, both owned by mates Mike Galvin and Brendhan Bennison, are big on natural wine and experimental cocktails.
SEE AND DO: BEACH HANGS AND COASTAL WALKS
It’d be remiss to visit Newcastle without checking out its renowned beaches. And since there are six world-class beaches within a five-minute drive of the CBD, it’s pretty easy. Pick a beach — our fave is Merewether Beach — to immerse yourself in the big blue and let your worries subside. If you’d rather not get your hair wet, soak in Newy’s spectacular oceanic vistas via a coastal walk. We suggest The Bathers Way coastal trek, a six-kilometre walk that guides you through some of Newcastle’s most famous landmarks, including Fort Scratchley where guns were fired during WWII, the heritage-listed Bogey Hole, which was built by convicts back in 1820, and the poignant ANZAC Memorial Bridge. If you’re still not breaking a sweat, grab a bike from BYKKO and see the city on two wheels.
SEE AND DO: VINTAGE SHOPS AND DESIGN MARKETS
Once you’ve got your nature fill, it’s time for some retail therapy. We suggest focusing on the eclectic vintage shops and the artisanal design markets. Peruse handmade leather goods at Hide and Seeker, stop by Stoned Saint Moon to pick up one-of-a-kind vintage threads and check out Abicus for vinyls and other trendy bric-a-brac. Once a month, you can catch the Olive Tree Art and Design Market, where locals sling ceramics, artworks, contemporary homewares, plants and jewellery.
SEE AND DO: LIVE MUSIC AND A SHOW
If you’re keen for some toe-tapping tunes, head to celebrated art deco theatre house Lizotte’s. This buzzy 100-year-old venue allows you to get up close and personal with acclaimed local and international artists in an intimate setting. For high-brow entertainment, check out the Civic Theatre — it puts on everything from contemporary dance to orchestral performances.
SEE AND DO: STREET ART AND CREATIVE HUBS
Stop by The Lock Up, a police station turned contemporary art space, which regularly hosts installations, performances and creative talks. Join a street art tour to ensure you see every last hidden corner of Newcastle. Discovering paintings and drawings in the most unexpected spots is a great way to bid adieu to this vibrant city.
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