Category Archives: Newcastle

— Newcastle —

Newcastle’s Renaissance – the essential weekend away

WRITTEN BY EDITOR • AUGUST 4, 2015

  • Ten years ago, Newcastle was a desert of unemployment and bleak prospects. Today, it’s one of Australia’s hottest places to invest, a world-leader in urban renewal, and most importantly an essential weekend away.

    Let us begin this journey with an important disclaimer: this isn’t your usual rags to riches fairytale. It isn’t a story about a town that started off gritty and dirty to suddenly be championed. This town certainly didn’t rise above its roots, and it hasn’t become so sparkly and well dressed and nice-smelling that it’s forgotten it once had a bad perm and was called Charlene.

    Certainly there is change happening in Newcastle. Lots of it. Edgy new cafés (slash bakeries slash galleries slash ‘creative spaces’); beautifully restored pubs and bars; fabulously unique shopping (and we mean unique); and a pride about the place that didn’t exist 20 years ago.

    But the really interesting thing? There’s been no magical influx of wealth. No sudden new development that caused crowds to come rushing in. No, Newcastle’s transformation has been a grassroots movement by locals and for locals, and unlike most gentrifications, which attract hipsters and poseurs and a sense of disconnection, the changes here are bringing the community even closer together.

    This is a story of gentrification done differently – and even if you’re not likely to visit in the next few months or the next few years, it’s a story worth reading. Because this, we’re willing to argue, might just be what the future of Australia looks like.

    A clean slate

    Soap is not the most obvious place to begin this tale – for what could a handwash have to do with reinventing a town (besides helping ‘clean up the city’)? But this particular batch, made by Novocastrian Juanita Low, is a wonderful example of what’s been happening in the city since 2008, as part of a world-first initiative called Renew Newcastle.

    General manager Chris Saunders doesn’t mince his words on the topic. “Ten years ago, Newcastle was dead,” he says bluntly. “There were empty buildings all over the city, ‘For Lease’ signs on almost every corner and virtually no life in the CBD – there weren’t even people walking down the street.” But one local, a gentleman by the name of Marcus Westbury, saw an opportunity to change that. What if all the empty buildings could be filled with pop-up stores?

    A passionate Novocastrian who’d already founded the TINA (This Is Not Art) and National Young Writers’ festivals, Westbury was a prime candidate for instigating the revolution. He immediately began looking at ways in which he could find short- and medium-term uses for the many buildings that were vacant, abandoned or otherwise stuck in the drawn-out approval process for redevelopment.

    “The basic concept was to lend those empty spaces – in office blocks, in department stores, along shop-fronts – to people wanting to start businesses, who were willing to accept an uncertain lease,” Saunders explains. On the condition that properties were returned in a better state than when lent out – a premise which usually involved a lick of paint, and maybe some basic repairs – a deal was struck with owners, and suddenly a whole lot of free real estate was up for grabs. Spaces filled quickly.

    To be a part of Renew, participants have to go through a formalised application process, which includes an outline of their business idea. Their application is vetted by Renew’s board and matched to an appropriate property, but there’s one catch – the business idea must revolve around a creative industry.

    The town saw digital artists, painters, jewellery-makers, furniture designers, milliners, media consultants, potters, musicians, illustrators, authors and yes, soap makers, coming out of the woodwork. They not only became visible contributors to the community and produced a very different shopping experience, but completely renewed the city in the process.

    “It’s activated empty properties and brought life back to the city,” Saunders asserts. “The increased activity has also attracted prospective tenants.”

    For Low and her soap business, 33 Degrees South, the opportunity has been life changing. “If it weren’t for Renew, I’d still be teaching Year Six kids,” she says, referencing her previous incarnation as a school teacher. “I moved here just because I was accepted into the Renew program, and it gave me a chance to do something here that I wouldn’t have been able to in Sydney.”

    Her store has been open for just five months and already, “I’m not able to keep up with demand,” she says happily. “I’m working at full capacity and it’s not enough.”

    “Renew has changed my life – but it’s also changed Newcastle,” agrees Andrew Dennis, who is responsible for another Renew initiative, a working studio gallery that holds art classes, called The Art Project (andrewdennis.com.au). “This has been so good for the town. People are really behind it.”

    You can see the effects of Renew for yourself by taking a walk along Hunter Street Mall. Five years ago it was a wasteland of two-dollar shops, but today “it’s so full of actual tenants that it’s hard to find a spot to offer to prospective Renew participants,” says Saunders.

    You’ll even find a ‘graduate’ business of the program: stationery and homewares store Studio Melt was so successful as a pop-up store that owners Susie Manning and Ange Hailey progressed to taking on a full-time lease. They have stocked the store with their own handmade jewellery and art, products by other Renew participants – think Marimekko-inspired cloth handbags, earrings made with silver and coal (sourced from Newcastle, of course), and quirky illustrations on postcards – as well as the wares of international designers.

    Overall, the program has launched more than 70 new creative projects in more than 40 once-empty buildings, like the iconic former David Jones department store. Once forlorn, the building’s ground floor has been reworked as ‘The Emporium’: a bazaar filled with unique, handcrafted wares from industrial furniture and leather goods, to vintage clothing and some surprisingly sophisticated millinery.

    But what’s most amazing about this little local project is the number of ripples it’s had both nationally, and across the world. In 2011, as a direct result of Renew, Lonely Planet declared Newy one of the world’s top 10 cities in their annual ‘Best in Travel’ awards.

    Westbury has since moved to Melbourne, where he has set up Renew Australia, a consultancy service to help other areas draw out their own creative communities. Several ‘Renew’ schemes have since launched at locations including Adelaide, Townsville, Eurobodalla, Cooma, Melbourne, Sydney, Greensborough, Geelong, Creswick, Clunes and Talbot in Australia; Lisbon, Rotterdam and Copenhagen in Europe; and Toronto in Canada. Stay tuned – in the next 10 years, there’s a good chance the project will be coming to a town near you.

    Art in the clink

    Without an enormous influx of wealth, Newcastle’s gentrification has required some creative adaptions of existing spaces. Several pubs are currently undergoing facelifts (walk along Darby Street or the Honeysuckle Precinct for evidence) and office blocks are being turned into speakeasies (more on that in a moment). But the most outstanding, if somewhat spooky, example is a building on government-owned land: The Lock-Up.

    “From 1861 to 1982, this building was a police station and lock up,” explains Jessi England Sideris, The Lock-Up’s director. “These days it’s an art gallery.” After its time as a police station, The Lock-Up was a cultural centre, a heritage centre and a museum, among other incarnations, but in 2013 it became a dedicated exhibition space. “It’s an amazing way to use Crown Land,” she says. “It’s such a loaded space that it can be quite an interesting place for artists to show their work. Our residency program has become quite well known in the national art community.”

    It’s not hard to see why. You can view artworks inside ‘Cell A’, which measures less than two square-metres and is a significant example of colonial penal design, as well as an eerie space for the moving projection currently on display there (a snippet of history: the cell size was introduced by Governor Gipps in 1838 as an economy measure). Or admire the sculpture in ‘Cell C’, an even creepier setting: the brown leather walls curve inwards, covered in scratched graffiti made by bored prisoners.

    Was the concept inspired by Renew? “That initiative laid the path for opportunities for new endeavours all over town,” confirms England Sideris. “It’s had a profound effect on the cultural and commercial landscape of Newcastle.”

    A lucky place

    Perhaps because the city has shunned neon lights and aggressive development, the past seems a lot closer in Newcastle. Its heritage streetscapes, in particular, are an absolute delight to take a walk along, with buildings representing almost every era and a glut of those from the 1800s, still wonderfully intact. There are also several pubs that date back to the town’s earliest days, including one owned by the ex-Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Jeff McCloy.

    The Lucky Hotel might sound like a fortunate place but, like so many buildings in Newcastle, it sat empty and unused for nearly a decade before McCloy and his family restored it to its rightful condition. It makes for a particularly heartwarming success story for the sheer breadth of its scale. The $6.5 million commitment – personally funded by McCloy – was “a love project,” his daughter Hayley admits. “It used to be a place you’d come to watch bands,” explains Hayley, who is also the pub’s marketing manager.

    “But it closed when Newcastle’s live music scene slowed down.” She gestures at the courtyard, a palatable version of Newcastle’s old soul, served up with a vertical garden, polished concrete floors and a bar serving craft beer. “This wasn’t even a courtyard – there had been so many add-ons to the building over the years, it was a big ramshackle mess.”

    Beneath the rubble, however, was an incredible amount of history – including a variety of glass bottles. “We found them when we dug up the building’s foundations; some of them date back to the early 1800s. The Lucky Hotel first opened for business in the 1860s, but the bottles are thought to have been brought in [and reused].”

    The bottles feature on two walls of The Lucky. They’re not only a small reminder of the pub’s rich heritage, but a gorgeously apt example of Novocastrian creativity at work: a means of fusing modern design with Newcastle’s past to push local enterprise forward.

    “There’s a lot of nostalgia here,” says Hayley. “This was a special place not just historically, but in recent times for many Novocastrians. We often hear stories like, ‘I saw my first band here’, or ‘I met my husband 20 years ago in that corner where the billyard tables used to be.’” To pay homage to that, a custom-designed ‘drumkit chandelier’ hangs from the ceiling of the main bar area.

    Cycling city

    The city’s changing face and flourishing reputation is not only attracting young creatives, but experienced problem-solvers who bring with them innovative solutions to age-old problems. Monica Zarafu moved from Romania to Australia seven years ago, with a scholarship to the CSIRO in transport planning.

    “Australia has several public transport issues and I thought, somebody should do something,” she says. Coming from Europe, where the culture in cycling has tangibly helped address congestion issues in cities, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She left CSIRO and started an automated bicycle hire service in Newcastle’s CBD. “It just felt like the right place to start.”

    Initially targeting hotel guests – the main hire station is just outside the Crowne Plaza Hotel – she noticed that locals had begun making use of the bikes too, “which is the best news,” she says. “My dream is to get the government involved, just as in Melbourne and Brisbane, and to have connected cycleways here.”

    Though you might struggle to ride the whole way around town (it’s hilly in areas), the council has already installed a picturesque pathway that runs along the foreshore, so you can cycle from the Honeysuckle precinct (where the bikes are found) either away from the beaches or towards Nobbys Beach, via the lighthouse, then round the headland and onward to Newcastle Ocean Baths, Newcastle Beach, King Edward Park and beyond. Make sure you stop for a coffee at Estabar, a forward-thinking coffee shop serving local produce and fabulous lattes, and for a swim at The Bogey Hole, a hand-hewn pool built by convicts for the personal use of a visiting commandant in 1819.

    Down-to-earth dining

    Owner of acclaimed Hunter Valley winery and hatted restaurant Margan, Lisa Margan is no stranger to the hospitality game, but she says Newcastle is its own specific market. “You need to know this city before you open anything here,” she asserts. “It’s unpretentious and very comfortable in its own skin. You try anything that feels contrived, and the city will sniff it out. Locals can spot inauthenticity a mile off.”

    This knowledge was front of mind when Margan decided to open an upmarket bar in the Honeysuckle entertainment precinct – a daring move, considering the area was known, until recently, for its dual offerings of tap beer and brawls. “We wanted to raise the bar – no pun intended – without putting anyone off,” she explains.

    The Landing has been welcomed with open arms. “Newcastle was ready for it,” says Margan. “We’ve attracted our own clientele to the precinct,” adds sommelier Trent Alder. “But Newcastle’s whole hospitality scene is changing. Previously it was just big pubs; now there are many better venues to find employment in. We even have our first two-hatted restaurant.”

    Like Alder, bartender Josh O’Brien, has worked at The Landing since its opening. After stints in Paris, New York and Dubai, he moved home to discover that the town had “an energy around that wasn’t here five years ago. There’s just more confidence here; people are willing to try new things.” While not every hospitality venture is as slickly executed as Margan’s, there are some real gems to be found among the plethora of new venues here.

    “People told us no one would understand a cocktail bar, that all Newcastle wanted was craft beer and vodka red bulls, but I believe I sell more cocktails here on a nightly basis than almost any bar in Sydney,” says Ethan Ortlipp.

    One half of the duo behind wildly successful bar Coal and Cedar – which Ortlipp co-founded with business partner Ryan Hawthorne – Ortlipp says Newcastle has been mistakenly dismissed in the hospitality industry. “It’s always been considered untouchable. The lock-out laws were trialled here and that’s what it’s known for in industry circles.”

    Ortlipp, on the other hand, long suspected that people were “crying out for something new”. His ‘speakeasy’ concept was a daring one regardless. With no website, no physical address listing, no phone number and no signage, and only an Instagram account as a means of promotion, he took what traditional marketers would consider a sizeable risk. “We had a line out the door on our very first night,” Ortlipp says.

    The bar itself is brilliantly executed – done on a low budget, though so well thought-out that it’s forgivably so – and set in an old bank, which had been converted into depressing office spaces and then sat, unused, on Newcastle’s busiest street for over a decade. Unthinkable! Ortlipp and Hawthorne have since opened a second restaurant, The Bowery Boys, which serves adventurous food till midnight every day.

    “This is the most innovative, young city I’ve ever seen,” Ortlipp states. “Everyone’s chatting about what it’s going to be like soon, there are lots of young people venturing out and starting their own businesses. It’s almost an anthropological experiment.”

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    — Newcastle —

    Newcastle Silverchair-style: Eat, stay & play like a ‘Newy’ local

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • JUNE 4, 2015

    Ex-Silverchair musician and Newcastle local Chris Joannou gives us his top 10 places to eat, sleep and play so you too can experience ‘Newy’ like a true local.

    1. Uprising-worthy Bakery

    There’s a bakery here called Uprising, which is absolutely a local’s secret. It’s tucked down a sidestreet in a warehouse in Marysville, a part of town that was forgotten for a long time. The pastries are just amazing. The pies always get me, but whatever you order will be good.

    2. Parry Street

    Check out Parry Street – it’s where my restaurant, The Edwards, is but it’s also filled with creatives who’ve repurposed derelict warehouses as media, design and architecture offices, as well as a great hole-in-the-wall café, Tufty’s. It’s an awesome example of how Newy is changing.

    3. Burwood Beach (to yourself)

    Just past Merewether Baths is a beautiful long stretch of sand called Burwood Beach. It has a rock lagoon and meets the edge of the national park, and it’s not unusual to have the whole thing to yourself mid-week.

    4. Classic Catherine Hill

    If you really want to be a local you’ve got to take the 40-minute drive south of town to Catherine Hill Bay. There are heaps of secret beaches dotted around the area, and not much else except for Catho Pub, which is a laidback, classic spot for a beer.

    5. Sweet stay: Honeysuckle

    Mates usually crash at mine, but if not I recommend the serviced apartments at Honeysuckle (From $165 a night; apartmentsinhoneysuckle.com.au) – they’re awesome!

    6. (Whisky) speakeasy

    You have to go to Coal & Cedar, an awesome little whisky speakeasy – but there are no signs identifying its location, you have to enter through an unmarked library door.

    7. Preferred pub

    Alternatively the Lass O’ Gowrie pub, in Wickham, is our little go-to for a beer. It has a great garden out the back and they’ve always got bands on. Walk along Darby Street – it’s full of pubs getting little facelifts.

    8. Cycle away like the locals

    There’s a cycleway now open along the entire foreshore, so you can pretty much ride from Nobbys Beach to Islington. It’s an awesome cycle and very ‘local’.

    9. Hunt and Gather markets

    Check out the Hunt and Gather markets held under the giant fig trees at Pacific Park on the third Saturday of every month. It features local jewellery designers, sculptors, handmade candles, fresh flowers and there’s live music.

    10. The Edwards Café

    Read all about the city’s hippest venues, The Edwards Cafe, and the full fabulous (traffic-free) city weekend.

     

    More information:

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    — Newcastle —

    #68 – A fabulous (traffic-free) city weekend

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • APRIL 1, 2015

    One of the most underrated city travel destinations in Australia, vibrant Newcastle is number 68 on Australian Traveller’s ‘100 amazing places you haven’t been to yet‘. Nominated by: Chris Joannou, musician (ex-Silverchair) and owner of The Edwards café.

    When an international rock star decides, having travelled the world, that his hometown is the ultimate spot in which to act out his long-held dream of opening a café/restaurant/bar/creative venue, you know there must be something pretty good about the place.

    The Edwards is one of the city’s hippest venues, housed in his parents’ former Laundromat in the city’s post-industrial West End.

    There’s a decidedly Novocastrian flavour here: the interior reflects its locale with concrete floors, exposed brick walls, steam press beer taps (fashioned from an old laundry press) and gas tumbler lighting; the coffee is sourced from a local roasting house; the seasonal produce is from local suppliers; and the venue is determinedly supportive of the local arts and music scene, hosting an artist in residence program, events and exhibitions in the creative space.

    And though Joannou isn’t the only one espousing Newcastle – Lonely Planet recently labelled the Steel City “a unique blend of imagination, sophistication and laid-back surf culture” – it remains a genuinely underrated destination, which is a shame because there’s a whole lot of creativity, art and great food here… not to mention the sparkling beaches.

     

    Return to: 100 Amazing Places You Haven’t Been to Yet

     

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    — Newcastle —

    Newcastle’s flourishing food scene

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • JANUARY 11, 2013

    Diamond-standard food from the city of coal – no one saw this one coming. Tatyana Leonov is pretty chuffed all the same

     

    Newcastle is in. It’s fresh. It’s hip. It’s full of surprises. More than just pristine beaches and top views, there’s been a resurrection of a different kind here.

    In 2010 Lonely Planet listed Newcastle as one of the top 10 cities to visit. Then The Seattle Globalist declared it as one of the five global meccas cooler than Seattle. Just what is going on?

    I’m actually in town to check out newly-relaunched Novotel Newcastle Beach (not a bad spot to stay, if you’re passing through), but after all the recent fuss made about this town, I’ve got other intentions. Locals reckon there’s a sizeable number of charming hotspots to explore, including several boutique shopping precincts and a thriving arts culture that’s influencing the way the city grooves – and I’m on a mission to see it all.

    But first to food. The last few years have seen a substantial growth in cafe culture here, and the city is buzzing with new venues popping up, each one quirkier than the next. It’s all a bit overwhelming, to be honest – so my first port of call on day one is an early coffee.

    Happily, that’s easy to find: Sprocket Roasters, forged in the industrial heart of Newcastle, is a mad scientist’s delight. Its team of rogue collectives (engineers, farmers, lawyers, teachers, winemakers and yoga instructors) have quit their day jobs to make coffee their lives, and it shows.

    Passionate owner Ross Ciavarella is keen to explain how it all works, turning on the coffee roaster especially in time for my arrival (they usually roast once a week). The Sprocket team use a fluid bed technology for coffee roasting – meaning the massive roaster that’s onsite uses waste from the cafe as a fuel source.

    How’s that for a carbon-conscious coffee? And yes, it tastes great. It’s early days, but I’m happy to declare this as one of the coffee blends in town.

    Vincent’s@The Coliseum is one of the nearby cafes serving Sprocket coffee, and it goes down a treat with their ever-changing hearty fare (though be warned: the brekkies here are massive). I came in search of food, but ended up staying for the interior design; a look owners Paul Bratton and Annie Calabria have got down pat.

    Mismatched clocks, squash rackets, Moroccan lanterns and inspirational sayings (I’m seated at a table full of ‘laugh’-themed quotes) are just some of the kitsch items that make up the unconventional décor. If that’s not enough, the café is connected to a massive antique store – perfect for an in-between-coffees stroll.

    If you’re one for the quirky, Vincent’s isn’t the only spot to stop: Barzingahh Café is another newish addiction that’s one part random, two parts awesome. Owner Janine King dreamed of opening a place where music, food and shopping went hand in hand, and opened the unassuming, one-stop-coffee-tea-food-music-and-old wares-shop in October 2011.

    The highlight here is the mini stage – drums, guitars, it’s all there, and if you feel like playing a tune, the stage is yours while you wait for your food (the raisin French toast is a must). Oh, and if you like the table you’re eating at – you can buy that, too.

    Keep the décor spree going at café-in-a-converted-warehouse Wickham Motorcycle Co., where you can buy the bikes, helmets, shirts, and leathers littered around the store.

    There’s no muesli or organic anything here, but the Wickham burger (homemade beef patty, cheese, onions, salad, tomato relish and mayo on Turkish bread) is a punchy delight. This was also the first café in Newcastle to use an app for pre-ordered coffees – with a reserved car spot out the front for pick ups. Smooth!

    After all that, I’m happy enough to head to family-run cafe One Penny Black, which has a strong focus on quality coffee (they use 100 percent fairtrade Blackstar Coffee) and daily fresh pastries. It’s easy to see why this particular spot has a fiercely loyal following: the simplicity of my sourdough, with homemade rosehip jam, Binnorie Dairy labna and a touch of cinnamon, is its own charm.

    So too is the menu at Le Petit Deux, Lesley Taylor’s most recent venture. Rustic and relaxed, the cute café features a French-inspired menu (which is mostly in French, although the staff are happy to translate) alongside a tidy wine list.

    Across the road Good Brothers Espresso offers no-fuss cafe fare amongst recycled materials and furniture to match. Opened by the owners of other Newy favourite Suspension, Chris Johnston and Steph Whitehead use as little processed food as possible – even brewing chai lattes the proper way. Nice!

    If the ‘old’ Newcastle was a rough-and-ready schooner of Carlton, its reincarnation is a boutique bottle of locally-brewed beer. And nowhere is this more apparent than in the deluxe dining arena, where several award-winners and newbies are quickly gaining a name for themselves.

    Like recent newcomer Subo, headed up by former Lexus Head Chef of the year Beau and his wife Suzie Vincent. With only 24 seats and limited opening hours, you need to book ahead.

    Then there’s the one-hatted Bacchus, housed in a beautiful old Methodist Mission, which is theatrical, dramatic and a definite must-do. While Restaurant Deux, another hatted-restaurant fronted by Lesley Taylor, does French with a modern twist – with an open kitchen for those who like to watch their food being prepared.

    Not enough? Try The Depot on Darby, a hot spot drawing the crowds every day of the week. The modern, industrial-style venue has a wicked tapas menu (the grilled Australian king prawns with chimmichurri are worth a trip to Newcastle alone), and the team have recently opened The Depot on Beaumont thanks to the constant stream of happy customers.

    I’m hard-pressed to think of another city with so many recently-opened and exemplary foodie venues to discover – and surprisingly, a few days in Newy is not enough. From Thai to French, modern Australian to Spanish, there’s luscious dining options sprouting up all over the place.

    A noteworthy mention goes to recent newcomer Rustica, serving Mediterranean-inspired fusion dishes in an awe-inspiring setting (intricately-designed, hand-crafted pieces make up the majestic Dion Ackland-designed interior scheme).

    As my time here comes to an end, I reluctantly wander along Honeysuckle Drive, a road full of suave dining venues; some so close to the water you can hear the waves lapping against the pier – like Silo.

    These guys are celebrating their eighth birthday this year, thanks to a fail-safe formula of simple-but-sophisticated, but there’s nothing boring about dinner.

    Their fabulously succulent seared King Island beef fillet, comes with the creamiest truffled potato puree, and if you like a drink with your meal (as I – cough – may well do), then this is the spot. There are wines and cocktails aplenty, and the beer list is massive (they won Beer & Brewer magazine’s ‘Best Beer Restaurant’ in 2010).

    A few footsteps away, Nor’East is another restaurant doing simple-swish well – the highlight is the fusion of flavours (the duck breast with artichoke puree, mushrooms, pancetta crumbs and spiced eschallot jus is ever so interestingly tasty!).

    The following morning, I farewell Newcastle (in my stretchiest pair of pants) with a bowl of creamy polenta porridge and poached rhubarb at Merewether Surfhouse – yet another new venture, which pays homage to iconic Sydney restaurant Icebergs. Set on the beachfront, the contemporary three-storey venue includes a kiosk, cafe, terrace bar and grill, and as good as my breakfast is, I get the feeling this’d be the ultimate spot for a sundowner; which pretty much decides it for me: I’m coming back.

     

    The Details

    Getting there
    Newcastle is easily reachable by car, train, bus or plane. It’s approximately two hours drive from Sydney via the F3 Freeway, otherwise CountryLink run a frequent daily rail service.

    Their train and coach network also connects Newcastle via Broadmeadow station to Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and other NSW country centres. Newcastle Airport (Williamtown) is located 30 minutes from Newcastle city centre with daily flights to and from Sydney, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Melbourne as well as some regional NSW centres.

    Where to stay
    Novotel Newcastle Beach is located in Newcastle’s East End metres from one of Australia’s most magnificent beaches, and is the newest hotel to arrive in Newcastle (it was re-launched on 26 July 2012). Overnight stays start from $179 per room. 5 King St, Newcastle.
    02 4032 3700. accorhotels.com

    Quest Newcastle offers one- two- and three-bedroom self-serviced apartments, each with its own private balcony. Rates from $199 per room, per night. 575 Hunter St, Newcastle.
    02 4929 8000. questnewcastle.com.au

    Brezza Bella is a warm, contemporary B&B with two double rooms, set a few streets away from Merewether Beach. Overnight stays, including breakfast, start from $190 per single.1 Rowan Crs, Merewether.
    02 4963 3812. brezzabella.com.au

    Where to eat
    Bacchu,s 02 4927 1332, bacchusnewcastle.com.au
    Barzingahh Café, 4 Perkins St.
    Good Brothers Espresso, 40 King St.
    Le Petit Deux, 02 4929 2323
    Merewether Surfhouse, 02 4928 0000, surfhouse.com.au
    Nor’East, 02 4929 6444, noreastdining.com.au
    One Penny Black, 0421 506 651
    Restaurant Deux, 02 4929 1233, restaurantdeux.com.au
    Rustica, 02 4929 3333, rustica.com.au
    Silo, 02 4926 2828, silolounge.com.au
    Sprocket Roasters, 02 4009 1237, sprocketroasters.com.au
    Subo, 02 4023 4048, subo.com.au
    The Depot on Beumont, 02 4962 2114, thedepotonbeaumont.com.au
    The Depot on Darby, 02 4929 2666, thedepotondarby.com.au
    Vincets@The Coiseum, 02 4967 2088, coliseumantiques.com.au/cafe.aspx
    Wickham Motorcycle Co., 02 4969 6525, wickhammotorcycles.com

    For more info, contact Newcastle Visitor Centre on 1800 654 558 or visit visitnewcastle.com.au

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    — Newcastle —

    100 Best Views In Australia #96 Stockton Beach Sand Dunes, NSW

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • APRIL 1, 2012

    Where is it?

    200km north of Sydney, just above Newcastle

    How to see it for yourself?

    The sand dunes cover 32km and can be accessed on foot, horseback, quad-bike or 4WD.  There are many local operators that offer services to enhance visitor experiences of the area, including Port Stephens 4WD Tours (portstephens4wd.com.au), Sahara Trails Horse Riding (saharatrails.com) and Quad Bike King (quadbikeking.com.au).
    Why I love it
    “When you look across these dunes you feel like you could be in Saudi Arabia! The southern hemisphere’s largest moving sand mass, the windswept patterns on the dunes and the hills are just awesome.” – Kim MacDonald, The Legendary Pacific Coast
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    — Newcastle —

    Newcastle: Australia’s next big weekend away?

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • MAY 24, 2011

    A couple of hours north of Sydney, the city that was previously known for its steelworks and harbour has taken on a new life of its own, blending cafe culture and boutique shopping for a good old girls’ weekend away. Virtual intern Ashleigh Green reports on a Newcastle hot spot Continue reading

    — Newcastle —

    New Seaplane Route to Newcastle

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • JULY 1, 2008

    Cut your travel time between Sydney and Newcastle to just half an hour, with the very scenic and affordable Sydney Seaplanes option. Continue reading

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    You can find it in Issue 22 along with
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    — Newcastle —

    Sydney Seaplanes to the Hunter

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • JUNE 29, 2007

    Now you can fly from Sydney to the Hunter Valley in around 45 minutes Continue reading

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    You can find it in Issue 16 along with
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    — Newcastle —

    100 Things To Do You’ve Never Heard Of #061 Imagine the land before maps on the Great North Road

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • MARCH 24, 2007

    Explore a real historic gem…drive the Great North Road. Continue reading

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    — Newcastle —

    100 Things To Do You’ve Never Heard Of #022 Bathe in convict history

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • MARCH 24, 2007

    The Bogey Hole in Newcastle is not just your average rock pool. Convicts carved it from the ocean rock wall in a stunning effort in the 1820s. James Thomas Morisset, Commandant of Newcastle from 1819 to 1822, ordered the construction but decided he didn’t want to share and had it made as his personal rocky ocean bathtub – which was why it was called Commandants Baths for many years.
    “THIS WAS MY LOCAL SWIMMING HOLE GROWING UP. FANTASTIC WITH THE WAVES CRASHING OVER THE ROCK WALLS AND AWESOME ON NEW YEARS DAY WITH A BEER.” – Michelle Hespe

    Luckily for us, it’s been a public pool since 1863, and was renamed after the Aboriginal Dharug word bugi: to bathe. As you stand and watch the waves smashing into the pool, you can picture what it must have been like to quarry it manually from the rocks, standing deep in troubled water. Especially since the rocks in the area are a sandstone-conglomerate and considered stubbornly hard. 

    WHERE // Newcastle, 160km north of Sydney. The pool is at the foot of Shepherds Hill, beneath King Edward Park.

    DID YOU KNOW? // Newcastle is the seventh largest city in Australia and is the largest city that’s not a state or federal capital. It’s known for its convict tracks all around the area, such as the site of the former Convict Lumber Yards, the oldest surviving example of a convict industrial site.

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    — Newcastle —

    Reels of Steel – Newcastle

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • MAY 19, 2006

    Filming Newcastle Reels of Steel Continue reading

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    You can find it in Issue 9 along with
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    — Newcastle —

    Sand Everywhere

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • NOVEMBER 21, 2005

    A Detours & Diversions piece about sand boarding on the dunes of Stockton Bight, northern NSW. Continue reading

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    You can find it in Issue 6 along with
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