Moving to Newcastle: A Guide for Families

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Are you and your family thinking of moving to Newcastle or already moved. Welcome to the Newcastle region. It’s a great place to raise babies and kids. Whether you’re moving from Sydney, from interstate or from overseas, here’s some tips to help you and your family settle in.

Why should you move to Newcastle?

The Newcastle region is an amazing place to live and raise a family. There’s a variety of places to live including near the beaches, near Lake Macquarie, up at the blue water wonderland of Port Stephens or in the picturesque Hunter Valley. It’s a relaxed lifestyle with friendly people.

In this area, there are five major councils: Newcastle City Council, Lake Macquarie City Council, Maitland City Council, Cessnock City Council and Port Stephens Council. Even though there’s more than 555,000 people in the region, some days it still feels like a bit county town as it feels like everyone is connected.  Read my article 2 Degrees of Separation for more information.

Where to live in Newcastle?

There’s a variety of places to live depending on your budget and where you are interested in being located. Living near Newcastle CBD and the beaches is more expensive but there are a variety of family-friendly suburbs located a bit further out. These include New Lambton, Kotara, Adamstown Heights, Warners Bay, Eleebana and Valentine. Closer to the beaches are the expensive suburbs of Merewether, The Junction and Bar Beach. Inner city Newcastle suburbs like Waratah, Georgetown, Maryville, Tighes Hill, Carrington and Mayfield are have been undergoing gentrification in the past few years.  For more information on Newcastle suburbs, check out the Newcastle City Council suburb guide. There’s also new housing estates in Cameron Park, Fletcher, Ashtonfield, Chisholm and Gillieston Heights.

If you are looking to buy or rent a home in Newcastle, check out websites Domain and These will give you an idea of median house prices in a particular region.

Getting around

While public transport is improving in the Newcastle region, it’s not always the easiest way to get around.

There are trains run by Sydney Trains, a NSW government division. Trains run from Newcastle Interchange at Wickham to the Central Coast and Sydney stopping at Hamilton, Broadmeadow, Adamstown, Kotara, Cardiff, Cockle Creek, Teralba, Booragul and Fassifern. There’s also the Hunter Line which runs from Newcastle Interchange all the way to Telarah in Maitland including stops at Waratah, Warabrook, Sandgate, Tarro, Beresfield and Maitland. It also extends at certain times to Scone.

The rest of the region is serviced by buses. Newcastle Transport has just introduced new service routes covering Newcastle government area and parts of Lake Macquarie. Newcastle Transport also runs the Newcastle passenger ferry service. It’s a fun 5 minute service which travels from Newcastle (Queen’s Wharf) to Stockton. There’s also the new light rail service which runs from Newcastle Interchange to Newcastle Beach. There’s also bus services in the Hunter Valley, Raymond Terrace and Williamtown Airport operated by Newcastle Transport.

To get a cab, contact Newcastle Taxi on 13CABS or 132227. Uber is also available in Newcastle.

Health care

Newcastle is fortunate to have extensive health care services including a dedicated Children’s Hospital. There are also many medical practices, private hospitals as well as an afterhours GP service. If you’re looking for a doctor, there are plenty of medical practices with GPs (general practitioners). Some of the practices “bulk-bill” for kids so check first.

GP Access After Hours

GP Access is a valuable resource for parents and one that I’ve used when I’ve had a sick child. GP Access After Hours provides free comprehensive and quality after hours medical care and advice to residents of Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Maitland areas on weeknights, weekends and public holidays. They are open after hours when your GP is closed. The service operates from five clinics across the Hunter with four of these clinics located in public hospitals. These include Maitland Hospital, John Hunter Hospital, Calvary Mater Newcastle Hospital, Belmont Hospital and Westlakes Community Health Centre (Toronto Polyclinic).

GP Access After Hours clinics operate on a phone appointment system and when you call 1300 130 147, qualified and experienced staff will provide advice or if required, arrange an appointment at one of their clinics. Visits to GP Access After Hours are fully bulk billed to Medicare and DVA card holders.

Late Night Chemists

Here’s a list of local late night chemists. It’s so handy to have a list of after hours chemists in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and the Hunter for those times when you need  a prescription urgently filled or you’ve run out of baby Panadol with a teething baby! Some of these chemists are open after 6pm on weeknights and on weekends.

Child and Family Health Centres

Child and Family Health Centres provide a wide range of health care and health promotion services for children and families in the Greater Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Port Stephen areas. For new mums, Kaleidoscope services include new parent groups, lactation groups and providing information, advice and support in the care and management of babies as well as providing support for adjusting to motherhood and postnatal depression.

For parents of older children, Child and Family Health Centres promote the physical, emotional and social health, well being and development of children up to high school, including their families. These include services such as toddler behaviour management, child safety and audiometry counselling.

To make an appointment with your local Child and Family Health Centre, contact the central intake number on (02) 4923 6920. For more information, visit the Child and Family Health Centre website

Local Hospitals

Here’s a list of local hospitals with emergency departments. In an emergency, phone 000.

  • John Hunter Hospital, Lookout Road, New Lambton Heights, Phone: (02) 4921 3000. In addition to an Emergency Department, the hospital includes the John Hunter Children’s Hospital. This 113 bed facility includes a medical ward, oncology/surgical ward, adolescent and day surgery ward, sleep unit, neonatal intensive care unit, outpatient clinic and school room.
  • Calvary Mater Hospital, Corner of Edith & Platt Streets , Waratah, Phone: 02 4921 1211. The Mater’s Emergency Department caters for both adults and children.
  • Lake Macquarie Private Hospital, 3 Sydney Street, Gateshead, Phone (02) 4943 3122 – Emergency Department. Even though Lake Macquarie is a private hospital, it also has an emergency department. However, you will be billed for your visit. You will be asked to settle your $200 Emergency Department service fee account prior to leaving the hospital.
  • Belmont Hospital, Croudace Bay Road,  Belmont, Phone:(02) 4923 2000. Although Belmont Hospital does not provide any specific paediatric services, its Emergency Department caters for both adults and children. Children who require admission to hospital will be transferred to John Hunter Children’s Hospital.
  • Maitland Hospital, 550 – 560 High Street, Maitland, Phone: (02) 4939 2000. As well as an Emergency Department, Maitland Hospital has a general paediatric centre, which provides newborn and paediatric in-patient services to the region.
  • Cessnock Hospital, View Street , Cessnock, Phone: (02) 4991 0555. In addition to an Emergency Department, Cessnock District Health Service has a two bed paediatric ward with provision for a child’s parent to stay with them during their hospitalisation.

The health care scheme Medicare provides free and subsidised health care for those with a Medicare Card, which is available to Australian citizens, permanent residents and visitors from certain countries.

Important telephone numbers

Emergency services: 000

GP Access After Hours 1300 130 147

Poisons advice line: 13 11 26

Child care

Photo credit: KU Children’s Services (Hunter Region)

Do you need childcare? There’s a variety of child care options in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and the Hunter including long day care, family day care and private nannies. There are many child care centres in the region. For a list of child care centres near you, visit the Australian Government site Child and Family Health Centre website. This useful website provides a description of the service and has information about vacancies, fees and quality assessments. It also provides information on child care payments that you may be eligible for.

Long day care/childcare centres provide care and early education programs for children aged from birth–5 years, and are open for longer hours year round, whereas preschools are just for children aged 3-5 years and offer more similar hours and days to schools.

Remember, all centres are not equal – some are not-for-profit and community based, some are run by small, private operators while others are larger corporate entities. In choosing a centre, check the rating under the National Quality Standard – the ratings are independently assessed by the Child and Family Health Centre website and must be displayed.

For more tips on securing childcare in the Newcastle region, check out this Newy with Kids article on how to secure childcare in Newcastle & the Hunter.


There are many good schools, both public and private in the Newcastle and Hunter region. Public schools provide free education. All primary schools and the majority of high schools have designated intake areas. Schools may accept enrolments from outside their local area if places are available. Use the School Finder website to locate NSW public schools and their designated intake areas. This will advise you about your local public school.

Children can start Kindergarten in NSW at the beginning of the school year if they turn 5 on or before 31 July that year. By law, all children must be in compulsory schooling by their 6th birthday.

There are also Catholic schools in the Newcastle & Hunter area. The Catholic Schools Office (CSO) Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle manages 18,000 students in 45 Primary schools, 10 Secondary schools and one K-12 school in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. Use their school finder to find your nearest Catholic school.

For a full list of local schools and to compare local schools, visit the My School website. It provides information about schools in Australia, letting you see how a school is performing, compared to schools with similar students.


For those with babies and younger kids, get out of the house and make new friends at playgroup. Playgroups provide babies, toddlers and young children with a wide variety of early learning experiences including play time, music, stories, arts and crafts and excursions. For parents and caregivers, you’ll get to meet others and share parenting ideas and experience.

There are loads of playgroups in the Newcastle & Hunter region. For a list, check out the Newy with Kids Playgroup guide

Family fun

Variety Playground at Speers Point Park
Variety Playground at Speers Point Park

Parks and Playgrounds

There are heaps of local parks and playgrounds in the Newcastle region including the amazing Speers Point Park pictured above. Check out the Parks and Playgrounds section on the Newy with Kids website for a list of places you can visit with your family.

Museums and Art Galleries

The Newcastle and Hunter region is full of educational and entertaining museums and galleries. Enjoy a family day out with your kids to learn more about Hunter history, art, science and transportation. Here’s a list of local museums and art galleries.


Head to your local library to borrow books, DVDs and CDs. Newcastle and Hunter libraries offer free programs for  families such as Baby Book Time and storytime. There’s also lots of school holiday activities to keep school aged kids entertained. Newcastle Region Library also hosts a Toy Library at New Lambton Library where families can borrow  up to 3 toys per child every week.

Kids Eat Free

Kids Eat Free (Or Cheap) in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and the Hunter

We’re blessed with loads of eating places in Newcastle and the Hunter. Here’s a list of Kids Eat Free places when you don’t feel like cooking. Here’s also a guide to local restaurants with kids areas or playgrounds.

Follow Newy with Kids

Stay up to date with what’s happening in Newcastle and the Hunter with Newy with Kids.

It’s your guide to family attractions, activities and events to parents and caregivers of children aged 0 to 12 who reside in the Newcastle & Hunter region. Whether it’s information on playgrounds, cafes, school holiday activities, kids concerts or family events, Newy with Kids provides readers with information about things to do with children. Follow Newy with Kids on Facebook to keep up to date with what’s happening around Newcastle.

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