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Newcastle (New South Wales)
Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in newcastle (new south wales)
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Newcastle is located at the mouth of the Hunter River, approximately 150 km north of Sydney in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales, Australia. The second largest city in the state of NSW, Newcastle is the focal point for a diverse district that encompasses beaches and mountains, restaurants and wineries.
- The Newcastle Herald (http://www.nnp.com.au/html/herald_index.html/),"The Herald" published daily - Monday to Saturday, is the local newspaper.
Newcastle is a 2 hr drive north of Sydney on the F3 freeway which starts at Wahroonga (close to Hornsby) on the North Shore. The freeway is in excellent condition and driving is normally not difficult. However, as a large number of people commute to Sydney daily from the Central Coast and even Newcastle, travellers driving north during the evening peak (5pm to 7pm) will encounter heavy traffic, as will anyone travelling on Christmas Eve, Good Friday, or the Friday evening before other long weekends, as the road will be full of people leaving Sydney for holidays.
Sydney's Central, Strathfield, Epping and Hornsby stations have hourly Cityrail (http://cityrail.info) trains to Newcastle via the Central Coast. Travelling time is about three hours - there is a faster express service called the "Newcastle Flyer" in the evening peak.
Several Countrylink 1 (http://countrylink.info/) services pass through Newcastle's Broadmeadow station daily. These trains are a lot more expensive than Cityrail services and tickets must be booked in advance, but they are somewhat more comfortable and are also faster. Occasionally Countrylink discount tickets by up to 50% if booking tickets within 24 hours of travel, so it may be worth checking their fare.
- McCafferty?s buses (13 1499) travel to Newcastle from Sydney.
Newcastle Airport (Williamtown) 2 (http://www.newcastleairport.com.au/) (NTL) is a major regional hub served by a number of domestic airlines:
Note that with transfer time and check-in time included, flying may not the be fastest way to travel such a short distance as Sydney to Newcastle. (However, it should be mentioned that the flight is particularly scenic, especially on a fine day, as there are stunning views of the northern beaches between Sydney and Newcastle. It can be well worth finding an excuse to fly if the cost is not an issue).
- Fort Scratchley, a historic site which now houses a military museum. The fort defended Newcastle in 1942 when a Japanese submarine surfaced shelling the city.
- Newcastle so much more, available from the Visitor Information Centre at 361 Hunter Street (1800 654 558 or 49742999) provides a free guide and maps to Newcastle and attractions.
- Shortland Wetlands Centre (Wallsend Rd Sandgate, 4951 6466). 7 days, 9am-5pm. A regenerated 45 ha wetlands area adjacent to Hexham Swamp. There are walking trails, a bicycle trail, a canoe trail, picnic and barbeque facilities, and a visitors' centre.
- The Newcastle Region Art Gallery 3 (http://www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/services/culture/artgallery/index.cfm/), 1 Laman St (49745100)- well worth a visit. The gallery houses a high quality collection of works by Australian artists and also stages its own and travelling exhibitions. Open 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday. (Closed Mondays, Good Friday and Christmas Day). Admission is free.
- Newcastle Regional Museum (787 Hunter Street Newcastle West, 4974 1400). Open 10am - 5pm Tuesday to Sunday (also open Monday also in school and public holidays). Free admission.
- See some live music. The TE Guide (http://www.nnp.com.au/te/te.cfm/) provides weekly entertainment listings and appears in Wednesday's "Post" free newspaper and Thursday's Newcastle Herald in print and online. The online version is not always kept up to date, so it is best to get hold of a print copy. Alternately, look for Uturn streetpress, which is widely distributed to shops and libraries around town.
- Blackbutt Reserve, is a 182ha reserve in suburban Newcastle. A natural bushland area which is full of native animals, picnic areas, wildlife exhibits, bushwalking trails, children's playgrounds. Main entrance is off Carnley Avenue, Kotara. Other entrances - Lookout Road, New Lambton Heights (on bus route) & Richley Reserve off Freyburg Street, New Lambton.
No visit to Newcastle in the warmer months would be complete without taking a dip in the ocean baths.
Festivals and events
- The Mattara Festival 4 (http://www.mattarafestival.org.au/) is a week long series of events that commences each year during the Labour Day long weekend in late September/early October. The festival features a grand parade, concerts, family entertainment and market stalls.
- The "This Is Not Art" Festival 5 (http://www.thisisnotart.org) is held in the same long weekend each year, and showcases the talents of young and emerging artists, writers, media makers and electronic musicians from around Australia.
- Surfest 6 (http://www.surfest.com/about.php3/), held annually at Newcastle Beach.
- For locally made clothing with a quirky, hip look, try High Tea with Mrs Woo at 74 Darby Street, Cooks Hill (4926 4883). Darby Street is also a good place to browse in the boutiques, although the options here aren't cheap.
- Retro/Second-hand clothing: Newcastle has a range of interesting second-hand stores, some of which are priced very competitively when compared with their Sydney counterparts.
- Record stores: Patsan Dance Music Specialist (301 Hunter St, 4925 3996) and Three Sixty Sounds (78 Darby St Cooks Hill, 4929 5631) are dedicated dance/electronic/hip-hop stores. Beaumont Street Beat (4962 5939), in Hamilton, offers a good selection of new and second-hand titles. JB Hi-Fi (30 Northcott Drive Kotara, 4956 2588), is a popular and very large store, also a good place to go for DVDs.
- The Honeysuckle Markets, held every Sunday from 9am-3pm, feature produce, art and crafts from the Newcastle region. Merewether St, Newcastle (4927 5366). http://www.honeysucklemarkets.com.au/
- Wickham Park Markets (Wickham Park, Albert St Wickham), morning of the last Sunday of every month.
Most of the city's restaurants and cafés can be found along the two main eatery strips: Beaumont Street in Hamilton, and Darby Street in Cooks Hill.
- Darby Street Take Away (98 Darby St Cooks Hill, 4929 3406). A real value-for-money greasy spoon/sandwich bar. The "international burgers" ($5.50) are recommended.
- For Yum Cha (lunch only), The House of Peking (Hotel Jesmond, Jesmond) is excellent value (typically $10-$15/head).
There are numerous options along Beaumont St in Hamilton and Darby St in Cooks Hill. At Three Monkeys (Darby St Cooks Hill) coffee can be ordered by the bowl. Some of the best coffee in town can be found at Suspension (3 Beaumont St Islington). Euro Patisserie (68 Orchardtown Rd, New Lambton, 4957 7188) is deservedly popular for their award-winning cakes and pastries.
- Goldbergs (137 Darby St, Cooks Hill). A busy Darby St stalwart, offers large meals and a good location for people-watching.
- Long Bench Café (Darby St, Cooks Hill) - open until late.
- Swell Café (Merewether Surf Life Saving Club building). Overlooks Merewether beach.
- Oriental Kitchen (146 Denison St, Hamilton, 4940 0329). Serves up a wide range of Asian dishes. This restaurant, attached to the laid back Bennett Hotel, is popular with Hamilton locals. Open Tu-Su evenings.
- Thong Thai (74 Beaumont St, Hamilton, 4969 5655). Quality unpretentious Thai and Vietnamese food. M-W 11.30am - 2pm, M-Su 5pm-9.30pm.
- Café 16 (16 Watt St, Newcastle, 4927 5622) is a café by day, Moroccan-style restaurant in the evening (mains $15-$22). Easygoing service.
- The Brewery Restaurant (The Boardwalk, off Honeysuckle Drive, ph 4929 5792).
- Scratchleys on the Wharf 7 (http://www.scratchleys.com.au/), 200 Wharf Road, tel 4929 1111
- The Queens Wharf Brewery 8 (http://www.qwb.com.au/) on the foreshore is a popular spot for a drink. The pub sells its own beers and has harbour views. During the day and M and Tu nights the atmosphere is relaxed, whilst W-Su evenings can get very busy. There's also entertainment (generally DJs, top 40 cover bands, R&B soloists) on W-Su evenings.
- Silo Lounge Bar is located in the new Honeysuckle development on the Harbour. A drawcard is the selection of Belgian beers available.
- The Northern Star Hotel (112 Beaumont St, Hamilton, ph 02 4961 1087) is an Irish pub in the middle of Hamilton's restaurant strip. The Northern Star regularly functions as a music venue - check the blackboard out the front to find out what's on.
- The Kent Hotel (59 Beaumont Street, Hamilton, ph 02 4961 3303) is a busy pub on Hamilton's restaurant strip. Check out the popular trivia night (each Wednesday, starts at 7.30 pm). http://www.thekenthotel.com.au/
- The Beach Hotel (Fredrick Street, Merewether) is a Newcastle Institution. The place to be on Sunday night is sitting on the front deck overlooking Merewether Beach at sunset with a locally brewed Bluetounge Beer (http://www.bluetonguebrewery.com.au/).
- The Gateway Hotel (Maitland Rd, Islington) is the local establishment frequented by Newcastle's gay & lesbian community. The venue features a rotating mix of local and Sydney DJ's, special events, drag shows and feature performers, featuring a nightclub (Club G), main bar and bistro.
- Newcastle Backpackers 9 (http://www.newcastlebackpackers.com/), 42 & 44 Denison St, Hamilton, tel 02 49 693 436
- Motel-style accommodation: Bimet Executive Lodge (121 Union St, The Junction) is an affordable option, and close to the restaurants and shops of Darby St.
- Hotel Ibis Newcastle (http://www.hotelibisnewcastle.com.au/) - 700 Hunter Street, Newcastle. Ph: 02 4925 2266, F: +61 (0)2 4925 3377, E: H3236email@example.com - Close to the heart of the Newcastle CBD, the hotel is an easy stroll to the Regional Museum, art galleries, Civic Theatre, Civic Playhouse, Newcastle's popular Honeysuckle and Queens Wharf harbour foreshore and retail precinct. Rooms cost approx $99 - $149 a night.
The University of Newcastle (http://www.newcastle.edu.au/) is one of the major regional universities in New South Wales. Its academic program is quite broad and includes many liberal arts courses. Their undergraduate medicine degree is very highly regarded.
- The Hunter Valley is Australia's oldest wine-producing region. The town of Cessnock, adjacent to the Lower Hunter wine region (including the Pokolbin district) is a 40 min drive from Newcastle.
- The closest supermarket to the CBD is at Marketown Shopping Centre (cnr National Park & King Sts).
- Newcastle Regional Library (http://www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/services/culture/library/about/index.cfm/) (Laman St, Newcastle) is a large local library which also hosts exhibitions.