Nestled in the heart of the Hunter Region is the beachside city of Newcastle. A top ten city in Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in Travel 2011’ guide, Newcastle has a rich history, quirky arts culture and a thriving dining and shopping scene. Newcastle is a city that is always changing, a city with world class business, research and industry, and a city of hardworking genuine people.
There are few cities in the world beyond Newcastle that can say their city centre is surrounded by eight beaches. Swim in the art deco Newcastle Ocean Baths (opened in 1922), and have fish and chips at the Canoe Pool, built in the late 1930s for young swimmers.
To satisfy your appetite Newcastle offers a diverse range of dining. Sip cocktails at a one of the many harbour side restaurants with bustling maritime views by day and glittering shores by night. Dine in cosmopolitan Beaumont Street home to a range of Mediterranean restaurants and quirky sidewalk cafes. Check out the live music at one of our many local pubs around the city and finish up with late night coffee at funky inner city Darby Street.
Take a moment to sit and watch the port in action and be amazed as giant 300m freight ships, close enough to touch, are guided into the Harbour by comparatively tiny tugs and a pilot flown out to each ship by helicopter. Sharing the harbour with coal ships are freight ships, fishing boats, ferries, yachts, kayaks and private vessels, making for a chaotic but exciting scene. Dine at one of the restaurants at Honeysuckle and enjoy front row views of all the action.
Discovered in 1797, Newcastle is the site of the second European settlement in Australia. A city rich in history, a visit to Newcastle provides countless opportunities to uncover our convict past.
The discovery by Lt. Shortland of the site of what would become Newcastle was largely accidental. Shortland had been sent in search of a number of convicts who had seized the Cumberland as she was sailing from Sydney Cove.
Lieutenant Shortland made for Port Stephens, where he thought the errant convicts may take shelter, but after unsuccessfully searching the bays and inlets, he sailed for home. On his way back down the coast, he entered what he later described as "a very fine river" which he named after Governor Hunter.
The Hunter region was already well known to local Kooris who had lived here for thousands of years prior to Lt. Shortland’s visit and had been visited by a party of fishermen in 1796, prior to Shortland, who brought samples of coal back to Sydney. Over the next two years several ships sailed to the Hunter for coal and, and by 1799 sufficient quantities had been brought back to make up a shipment for export.
Besides coal, vast cedar forests covered a huge tract along the shores of the Hunter, providing a source of urgently needed building timber for the infant Sydney colony.
The name, Newcastle, first appeared in the commission issued by Governor King on March 15, 1804, to Lieut. Charles Menzies of the Royal Marines, appointing him superintendent of the new settlement. As the area around Sydney was known as the County of Cumberland, King decided to give the area around the new settlement the name of another northern English county, Northumberland. And as Newcastle-on-Tyne was the most prominent town in that county, he gave the settlement the name Newcastle.
For a walk through Newcastle’s history tour Fort Scratchley Historic Site, with its commanding position guarding the Hunter River Estuary. Overlooking Nobbys Beach and lighthouse, the Fortress has a long and interesting military history. Another famous historic site and a survivor of the Japanese submarine attack of WWII and the 1989 Newcastle Earthquake, Christ Church Cathedral is a short car ride away. The city’s ‘Castle’ boasts exquisite architecture, beautiful grounds and wide views of Newcastle Harbour.