13 places to take your friends and family in Newcastle, NSW
Got family visiting? This region is a beautiful place to show off to out-of-town guests. There’s so much to see and do for anyone who’s here for a visit — like grandparents, teen nieces and nephews, friends with new babies in tow.With so many options, we’ve pared it down to our top picks for playing tourist in the Newcastle region.
Stroll along Anzac Memorial Walk
Go for a walk along the Anzac Memorial Walk and remember World War 1 service personnel while you and your guests enjoy Newcastle views. This 450 meter cliff top walkway at Bar Beach is a stunning walk along the coastline. It features incredible 360 degree views of Newcastle from the coast to city. As it’s a tribute to the Anzacs, it features history panels with information about different aspects of the conflict, names of local servicemen and servicewomen as well as listing the geographic place names of various conflicts.
Visit Newcastle Museum
To learn more about the history of Newcastle, visit Newcastle Museum with it’s free admission. It contains many exhibits which chart the development of the city from convict beginnings to a modern vibrant city. Be sure to catch the 6 minute BHP Steelmaking show which features special effects. It runs every hour on the hour and provides a fascinating and entertaining history about the Newcastle’s steelmaking past.
Discover the past at Fort Scratchley
Visitors can take a self-guided tour around the fort viewing the cannons and other above ground defence structures. If you would prefer a full site tour and a chance to explore the underground tunnels, pay for a guided tour with one of the Fort Scratchley Historical Society volunteers. General admission to Fort Scratchley is free. Fort Scratchley is open six days a week, 10am to 4pm (closed Tuesdays).
Walk along Bathers Way
For a scenic city walk, stroll along Bathers Way from Nobbys Beach to Merewether Ocean Baths. This 6 kilometre route takes in some of Newcastle’s iconic beaches and often you’ll see dolphins frolicking in the waves.
Spot koalas and kangaroos at Blackbutt Reserve
See native Australian animals like koalas, kangaroos and emus up close at Blackbutt Reserve. This popular attraction covers 182 hectares in the middle of Newcastle’s suburbs and features native animals, walking trails, playgrounds and tranquil picnic areas. Admission is free but there’s a parking charge.
Walk out on Nobbys breakwall
Nobby’s Beach is a favourite with tourists and locals alike for its views of Nobbys Headland and Stockton Bight. Work up a sweat walking to the end of Nobbys breakwall and then cool off with a swim at Nobby’s Beach (patrolled year round). For sweeping views back to Newcastle, visit Nobbys Headland. The Lighthouse Grounds are open from 10am to 4pm every Sunday and entry to the site is free. It’s a 10 minute walk (550 metres) from Nobbys Beach carpark to the gate. From the gate, it’s a 5 minute (220 metres) uphill walk to get to the Signal Master’s Cottage.
Go for a swim at one of our local beaches or ocean baths
We’re blessed in Newcastle with a number of great beaches to visit. Take visitors to some of our top beaches like Merewether Beach. Home to the famous surfing competition Surfest, it’s popular with surfers and swimmers alike. If waves aren’t their thing, go for a swim at Merewether Baths, the largest ocean baths complex in the Southern Hemisphere. As well as being a massive pool, it’s extremely scenic with views out to the ocean.
Explore Newcastle Harbour
Swap ocean views for harbour views and walk along Newcastle’s working harbour. As one of the world’s largest coal export ports, this busy working harbour is full of coal ships gliding in and out of the harbour. They’re joined by an increasing number of cruise ships. If you and your guests are lucky, you might spot a coal ship entering or leaving the harbour dwarfing the tugboats besides them. For a fun excursion, go on a cruise with CoastXP.
Go “overseas” to Stockton
If you have time, take your visitors over to Stockton for great views back toward Newcastle on the ferry (it takes 5 minutes) over to to Stockton to see back to Newcastle. With ferries running every 20 – 30 minutes departing from Queen’s Wharf, you can check out Stockton by foot or by bike before returning on the ferry. From the wharf in Stockton, you can walk to Stockton Beach and out to the breakwater on the Shipwreck Walk. There you’ll see remnants of shipwrecks.
Explore Lake Macquarie
Lake Macquarie is Australia’s largest salt water lake and offers no shortage of water based activities. Enjoy fishing, kayaking, boating and sailing in this lake with out of town visitors. Or else, take them on a walk or bike ride around the lake with kilometres of shared paths. There’s also the new Sculpture Walk between Eleebana and Speers Point. The sculptures are created by nationally and internationally renowned artists. Among others, the works include a flying pig, an oversized Buddhist monk-child and a mauve bust of Charles Darwin.
Explore sea caves at Caves Beach
Caves Beach located in neighbouring Lake Macquarie features a network of sea caves with weathered rocks and unusual formations. Visit at low tide and you’ll discover a variety of different sized caves to explore, some of them with narrow openings to crawl through.
Visit the Hunter Valley
With more than 150 wineries dotted around the scenic Hunter Valley, it’s worth a visit to Australia’s oldest wine growing region. There’s also many restaurants and places to stay as well as the beautiful Hunter Valley Gardens. A highlight for any visitor.
See the dolphins at Port Stephens
Port Stephens, 45 minutes north of Newcastle is a stunning holiday spot. As well as 26 beaches and bays ideal for a swim or surf and the enormous Stockton sand dunes, there’s an abundance of marine life. There’s over 140 resident bottlenose dolphins in Port Stephens and they’re usually easy to spot from shore or on a dolphin cruise. For some adrenaline, take your visitors sandboarding on Stockton sand dunes.