7 (Free) Places to Enjoy in Newcastle
January 1, 1970
by Morwenna Bunt
There is more to Australia than Sydney
Take Newcastle for example. 2 hours drive up the east coast from Sydney and you’re away from all the hustle and bustle of the city and into a more relaxed and opening environment. There are many places to explore that make your visit worthwhile (and it’ll be a lot cheaper than Sydney too).
Newcastle is Australia’s seventh largest city and sits perfectly between beaches lining the east, the wineries surrounding the west, the beautiful Barrington Tops in the North and the state’s capital in the south.
1. Newcastle is Famous for its Beaches
Our first stop on the tour of Newcastle begins with its famous attractions: the beaches. So start your day off with a nice walk along the sandy stretches that outline the coast. Start at the bottom of The Hill at Merewether Beach, a hot spot for surfers and sunbathers alike. Relax on the golden sand or enjoy the view from the Beach Hotel just behind you up the road whilst sipping on a hot cup of tea or coffee from their sea view balcony.
2. The Memorial Walk
Next is a trek along Newcastle’s Memorial Walk – an outstanding (albeit tiring) coastal walk, situated above Memorial Drive, with a special local connection to the people in the area. The walk was built in 2015 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing in Gallipoli, and that special connection comes from the tribute to the men and women of the Hunter Valley area who served at this time. The tiring walk up is definitely worth the view though. At the top, you’re blessed with 180-degree panoramic views of the coastline and the historic harbour below.
As you reach the top you’ll come face to face with harrowing steel silhouettes of the soldiers that fought on either side of you. Standing tall, they line the bridge at either end to welcome you and bid you farewell on your journey through history. At the end of the bridge, you can choose to walk back and take in the view again, but I would recommend continuing your walk around the corner.
Just a short walk away, you’ll find the remains of some of the buildings that lined the coast through the war, protecting the coastline. They stand tall in a good condition (bar the graffiti lining the walls and the rubbish built up over the years). You can’t go inside the buildings, but you can appreciate the view that they had of the east shoreline whilst protecting the area from the enemies that approached and attacked from far and wide (or at least tried to!)
3. The Bogey Hole
After your historical walk, head down the path and down the hill towards the heritage listed sea bath known to the locals as The Bogey Hole, or the Commandment Baths. This beautiful man-made bath was crafted into the cliffs by the order of Lieutenant James Morisset for his own personal use in the early 19th century and is now used by the inner city dwellers as an escape from the busy sandy beaches (and it’s easy to see why!).
Now by this time if you’re feeling sick of the sea – fear not! Newcastle has plenty of walking tracks through the woodland and nature reserves that intertwine between the many suburbs of the city.
4. Blackbutt Nature Reserve
Our first trek is through Blackbutt Nature Reserve. Free to walk around and relax, this nature reserve is smack bang in the middle of the suburbs, quite where you’d least expect it. Nonetheless, once you’re parked up and taking your first steps around the park, you won’t even remember that insignificant detail. There are two entrances to the park; one that takes you to the animal park and picnic area, and the other that takes you down to the other end of the park towards more walking tracks.
If you choose to go to the main attraction, you can take a walk around the wildlife part, walking amongst the wombats and kangaroos alike before heading through the door and flying with the doves and lorikeets. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to spot the koalas napping in amongst the eucalyptus trees as usual before stepping out and discovering more birds and lizards of Australia – all for free!
If you’re peckish, you can use one of the barbecue areas to cook yourselves up a feast before you venture through the woodland along one of the walking tracks, spotting more wildlife along the way. There’s a lot in the area so keep your eyes peeled for anything from small lizards to echidnas and cockatoos!
5. Glenrock State Conservation Area
If you’re up for a more challenging walk, head down the road towards Glenrock State Conservation Area. From here, there’s a 45-minute walk towards Glenrock Lagoon on a slightly more demanding terrain. The first part of the walk starts on some steady ground before building up towards a more rocky path along the river and up to the viewpoint. You can stop here to take in the spectacular view of the lagoon ahead of you before you continue on the rest of your journey towards the coastline and the secluded beach. One of the best parts about Newcastle is that there are so many beaches to choose from, so down at Burwood Beach next to Glenrock, you’re lucky to share the beach with ten other people compared to 10,000 people at Bondi!
6. Eat Street(s)
Now, if at the end of the day you’ve built up quite an appetite, you’re in luck! There are two main streets for eateries in the city depending on where you want to be. There’s Beaumont Street in the west or Darby Street in the centre. Both provide you with every cuisine you can imagine: Mexican, Chinese, Greek, Turkish, Italian – they have it all!
7. Dinner with a View
However, if it’s a view you’re after (and you’re not too bothered on the price), I have two more options. There’s Honeysuckle Drive in the city where you’re looking at spending more money for your food, but you’re treated with beautiful unspoilt views of the historic harbour.
If you don’t mind driving for a few minutes out of the city centre, head towards Kotara and the Rooftop. This fairy-tale wonderland sits on top of the Westfield Shopping Centre, although once you’re up there the mesmerising fairy lights highlighting the restaurants at the top will make you forget this!
A lot to Offer
I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface with everything there is to do in this historical city. Its combination of old and new architecture makes it easy to see why so many people move to the area. It’s definitely worth making a few days out of and really exploring and getting to know the area.