Blake Walsh

18 Best Things to Do in Newcastle, NSW

  • Published 2022/03/20

Newcastle is mainly known for its industrial significance, namely its coal mines and steel productivity.

But did you know there are some incredible hidden gems and travel treasure points for you to check off your bucket list as well?

There’s so much to do and experience in the city: sandboarding, feeding the emus, seeing constantly moving giant dunes and historical lighthouses, exploring traditional culture and craft, and observing modern Australian luxury living.

Visit Newcastle and fall in love with the city of beautiful coastal sights.

Here’s a list of the best things to do in Newcastle, New South Wales:

Enjoy Scenic Views Along the Newcastle Memorial Walk

Stairs at Newcastle Memorial Walk

Tony Gorman /

The Newcastle Memorial Walk is dedicated to the local populace that took part in World War I as part of the British Army.

Newcastle Memorial Walk during sunset

aiyoshi597 /

You will find metal silhouettes of soldiers along the path, showing a scenic view of the sea, snaking from Strzelecki Lookout to Bar Beach.

It’s an excellent place to walk around, clear your head, enjoy the ocean view, and immerse yourself in the quiet.

Aerial view of the Newcastle Memorial Walk

Michael Leslie /

Visit the Historical Fort Scratchley

Cannon at Fort Scratchley

Paskaran.T /

If you enjoy visiting sites with historical significance, this fort was built to protect the region around the harbor during WWII.

Also known for being the station of the very first European coal mine built in Australia, this museum is a must-visit.

Display of a war weapon at Fort Scratchley

Man Down Media /

From here, you can enjoy an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean—and if you’re lucky, you might spot some dolphins playing around!

If you love basking in the serenity of a higher perspective by your lonesome, then visiting this fort should be at the top of your to-do list.

Fort Scratchley during twilight

Man Down Media /

Stroll Along Stockton Beach’s Giant Dunes

Dunes on Stockton Beach

Taras Vyshnya /

Have you ever seen regularly shifting giant dunes that go as high as 30 meters?

And no, you don’t have to go to Sahara for that, nor do you have to venture to Rajasthan, India.

If you’re already in Newcastle Australia, then visit Stockton Beach.

Take a walk and take pictures with the dunes, but do keep in mind that some of them may be protected, so sandboarding and climbing without prior permission is not a good idea.

This spot is a major tourist attraction because of its giant dunes—plus, it’s also one of New South Wales’ largest beaches.

Meet the Wildlife at Blackbutt Reserve

Tourists exploring the Blackbutt Nature Reserve

haireena /

Are you interested in wildlife?

How would you like to meet the exotic Australian animal, the kangaroo?

Now is your chance to experience what you’ve always seen on TV!

Closeup shot of a sparrow at Blackbutt Reserve

Ecopix /

If you enjoy shows related to dangerous animals, the crocodiles in the reserve will surely captivate you.

If you prefer birds, then why not try feeding an emu instead?

Prideful peacock at Blackbutt Reserve

Ecopix /

There are kangaroos, koalas, and wombats as well; most Australian native critters can be found here.

Take a hike in the forest trails of the reserve if you’re in the mood for some sightseeing.

Grab a Beer at One of Newcastle’s Hippiest Bars

Taste craft beer at Grain Store Newcastle—if you’re looking for a family-friendly bar that focuses on local craft beer rather than mainstream beer, then this is where to go.

With 21 different taps of authentic Australian crafts beer, they make a separate visitor base for themselves.

Feel the freedom at The Beach Hotel: enjoy the feel of the sun on your skin and a gentle breeze rustling your hair as you take a sip of your drink.

At this hotel, you can have your share of beer, wine, cocktails, entertainment, and, most importantly, an outdoor patio with a beautiful view of the ocean.

Get romantic at The Koutetsu, of the city’s most famous cocktail bars.

They have a top-end selection of wine, beers, and cocktails.

Have a Relaxing Swim at the Bogey Hole

Waves hitting the Bogey Hole

Horizon Unknown /

Newcastle’s Bogey Hole is a place where nature, adventure, and relaxation come together in a strange symphony of scenic beauty.

Imagine yourself taking a dip in a naturally formed bathhouse in the ocean, with only a railing separating you from the sea.

Aerial view of Bogey Hole with people relaxing in it

Alizada Studios /

It may be a test of your patience to relax in the unpredictable yet enchanting atmosphere.

Visitors aren’t recommended to swim in the Bogey Hole during high tide or on days that the weather is difficult, so do take these matters into account when planning your visit.

Closer view of Bogey Hole during sunrise

Ben Jeayes /

Alternatively, you can choose to enjoy your bath at one of many artificial ocean baths in Newcastle.

Explore Newcastle’s Excellent Restaurants

Merewether surfhouse with a marvelous view

haireena /

If you love checking out the best places to eat in town, these are some of the few places that you might find to your liking.

Subo is one of the comfiest spots to eat at; they serve modern Australian cuisine and a remarkable collection of drinks.

Rustica boasts beautiful and innovative interiors and a mouth-watering menu of Mediterranean dishes.

For an authentic Australian experience, check out Merewether Surfhouse—their amazing coastal views and local seasonal dishes set them apart from other restaurants.

Learn Something New at Newcastle Museum

Entrance of Newcastle Museum

ChameleonsEye /

Newcastle Museum is the perfect tourist spot for curious minds that prefer to learn something new rather than go on a daring bike ride.

Their exhibitions include ones that showcase Aboriginal history, along with the history of Newcastle itself.

They also have exhibits on the industrial prowess of Newcastle, revolving mainly around the steel and coal production of the region.

Ideal for kids, the museum also includes a scientific exhibit.

They have something for visitors of all age groups.

Relax by Lake Macquarie

Calm Lake Macquarie

mark higgins /

After being out and about while exploring the city, a visit to the tranquil Lake Macquarie might do you some good.

You can try paddleboarding or kayaking, or even check out one of the barbecues in the coastal area if you feel like it.

Beautiful sunset at Lake Macquarie

sunnypicsoz-Geoff Childs /

Lake Macquarie is the vastest saltwater lake in Australia.

Along its 32-kilometer coastline, there are bound to be things you will enjoy.

Become a Wine Connoisseur at Hunter Valley

Bird's eye view of Hunter Valley

Man Down Media /

Are you passionate about tasting wine?

Or are you out with a small group of fun friends who would enjoy pretending to be wine connoisseurs?

White wine in a glass at Hunter Valley

Anna Soelberg /

Either way, you’ll surely enjoy a trip to Hunter Valley.

Taste some wine, pair it with either chocolate or cheese, giggle with a group of friends, take some pictures, get something to eat, and feel like a legitimate oenophile.

Check Out Nobbys Lighthouse

Nobby's Lighthouse with beach in the foreground

mark higgins /

There are people who wander, and then there are people who try to learn thoroughly about the history of the place they’re visiting.

If you’re the second type, you might enjoy visiting this piece of ancient history.

This lighthouse was built in 1857, and it still refuses to retire.

Nobbys Lighthouse standing high on a hillock

Chris Andrews Fern Bay /

Check out this legend of a lighthouse, working even after more than 150 years, guiding ships to their destination.

It was a land of value to the Aboriginal people back in the day and later became the land for the lighthouse.

It used to be more than 60 meters high, but it was trimmed down to facilitate better passage for moving ships, as the obstructive height made it difficult to keep the wind in its sail.

Breathtaking bird's eye view of the Nobbys Lighthouse

Brendan Somerville /

Wander Along Newcastle Breakwater

Pier at Newcastle Breakwall

aiyoshi597 /

If you feel like taking your mind off of things and relaxing while watching the sea and enjoying the breeze, then you’ll certainly enjoy a visit to Newcastle Breakwater.

It is situated next to Nobbys Lighthouse and was built with years of hard work in dangerous weather.

Waves craching against the rocks at Newcastle Breakwater

Ben Jeayes /

Construction started back in 1818 and lasted 38 years.

In case of bad weather, some precaution is advised, as the waves might reach over the way and soak you, too.

A lighthouse at Newcastle Breakwater

ian woolcock /

Enjoy a Stroll Along the Picturesque Bathers Way

Coastal walk at Bathers Way

Willowtreehouse /

A 5-kilometer long trail of beautiful scenery, the Bathers Way is one of the most famous places to take a walk in the Newcastle area.

Getting a chance to see a few dolphins in the area is not unheard of—and if you’re fortunate, you might even see a migrating whale.

A young women enjoying the amazing view of the ocean from Bathers Way

Ben Jeayes /

Take a lungful of fresh air and enjoy the sights along this coastal walk.

This is one of the best places for working out your physical and mental health all at once.

Admire Dramatic Views at the Obelisk

Obelisk at Newcastle

Ben Jeayes /

Newcastle’s Obelisk is one of the seaside town’s oldest navigation keeps.

Having been built as a sort of harbor warning beacon, it began life back in 1820 when it was constructed to serve as a milling facility for wheat to be shipped across the globe.

Before steel mills, there were old world windmills that were massive and fearsome looking but could only hope to grind 10 bushels of wheat per hour, usually during strong winds.

White pillar of Obelisk at Newcastle

Davesayit /

Sat upon a prominent knoll, the Government Flour Mill was visible throughout the region and became a guiding mark for all vessels sailing up and down the coast towards Newcastle.

However, the government decided to tear down the mill and auction off the condemned machinery in 1847.

A resident won the auction to buy the land, and there is now an Obelisk standing right on top of where the mill once stood.

This hill became a popular lookout point with panoramic views of Newcastle itself and is now known as Obelisk Hill.

Enjoy Amazing Musicals and Plays at the Newcastle Civic Theatre

Also called The Civic, the Newcastle Civic Theatre that lies on Hunter Street is a heritage-listed building in Newcastle’s Hunter region.

When this theater opened its doors to audiences in 1929, it was the first cinema of its kind to host musicals and plays, among many other shows with space for 1,520 guests.

Since then, it has grown into one of the most prominent venues in town to catch all sorts of contemporary performances, including relatively new music concerts that have been sold out ever since.

Designed in the spirit of a live theater, the Newcastle Civic Theatre is the perfect superb example of Georgian Revival architecture, counter-balanced by the simplicity of its functionality while maintaining an exquisite degree of decadence in detail.

The theater’s largely intact interior is an impressive example of the Moroccan/Spanish style.

The building is often used as a community hub and cultural center adjacent to the lovely City Hall.

As Newcastle was considered the state’s second capital at the time of its construction, this beautifully restored building is a symbol of that prestige.

Take on a Thrilling Challenge at Escape Reality

In this real-life game, you and your teammates will have 60 minutes to maneuver through some puzzling challenges and get out of one of the uber-real rooms.

You will be working closely with your team to use all of the resources available to help you progress through the game.

Throughout the game, you’ll be faced with life issues and obstacles that will bring out the best in each person.

With thriller, horror, and adventure options to suit all your wants and needs, Escape Reality has something that every thrill-seeker out there is guaranteed to love.

If you’re looking for unique (and slightly creepy!) things to do in Newcastle, then why not go for something out of the ordinary and see if you can escape their rooms within one hour to win your freedom?

You can challenge yourself with their “Enigmista” room, a completely blacked-out room from floor to ceiling.

Here, you’ll be tested to your limit by your captor’s challenges, but you must prevail and escape the locked room of darkness!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Go Sandboarding at Birubi Beach

Beautiful Birubi Beach in Port Stephens

Greg Brave /

If you enjoy sandboarding and taking exciting photos, then you have to check out Birubi Beach in Port Stephens.

Nothing screams “cool” quite like pictures of beach adventures on your social media feed.

Surfboard at Birubi Beach

Nigel Jarvis /

Grab a few of your friends around, go sandboarding, experience the heat, get a tan and have a picnic!

Panoromic view of Birubi Beach

Taras Vyshnya /

Go Mountain Biking at Glenrock State Conservation Area

Trees at Glenrock state conservation area

Mark McIntosh, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re looking for a place to enjoy mountain biking, you’ll be delighted to know that Glenrock State Conservation Area offers the best bike trails in the region.

Travel around in the rainforest and look for waterfalls or pools to take a dip in.

There are many exciting bike trails to choose from, as it is a local hub of mountain bikers.

Final Thoughts

Out of all the places to visit in Australia, Newcastle is often overlooked due to its slightly remote location.

However, if you plan to begin with a shortlist of places every visitor to Australia must check out, Newcastle should be on there somewhere!

It’s a somewhat underrated city with a lot more to it than beaches and wine; it’s seriously one of the most beautiful cities in all of Australia.

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