Newcastle is a pretty easy place to navigate. There are two major roads that lead into the city - the M1 and Pacific Highway - and with a regional airport (Newcastle Airport) located just 20 minutes drive from the CBD, and bus, train and taxi services throughout the city, travel in and around Newcastle is stress free. Below are some tools to help you navigate your way, plus some numbers you can call for transport related information.
There are several options for getting to Newcastle from Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne – and getting around the place is a breeze.
Newcastle is Australia's eighth largest city but its streets are easily negotiated.
Drive into the city along the Pacific Highway, which leads straight into Hunter Street, Newcastle CBD's main drag (the mall, at the far end, allows slow-moving, one-way traffic). Trace Wharf Road east and see Nobbys Lighthouse marking the entrance to Newcastle Harbour. Park in the council's parking station at 92 King Street or a privately operated car park.
Prefer to be driven around? Newcastle Taxis has 175 vehicles, 23 of which are wheelchair capable, that cover the whole of the Hunter region. Visit www.newcastletaxis.com.au for more info.
Head to Newcastle on a long-distance bus - Greyhound services leave from Sydney's Central Station, Brisbane's Coach Terminal and Melbourne's Travel Centre. Newcastle's local bus network radiates from the Coach Interchange, behind Railway Station , Wharf Rd. Major bus interchanges are found at the University of Newcastle, Wallsend, Glendale, Warners Bay, Belmont, Charlestown Square, Westfield Kotara and Broadmeadow Station. Trips taken within a designated area of Newcastle's CBD are free on State Transit-operated bus services. Opal cards are used on Newcastle's local buses replacing the time-based tickets that are unique to the city. For more information visit www.newcastlebuses.info
Five airlines service Newcastle Airport at Williamtown (a 25-minute drive north of Newcastle). Jetstar flies from Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Melbourne, Virgin Australia flies from Brisbane and Melbourne, QantasLink flies from Brisbane, Rex Airlines flies from Sydney and Fly Pelican flies from Canberra, Sydney, Ballina / Byron Bay, Dubbo and Coffs Harbour. Port Stephens Coaches runs buses between the airport and the bus terminal next in Newcastle. Hunter Valley Buses runs buses from the airport to East Maitland via Raymond Terrace. Or, for those show-offs, why not charter a seaplane from Sydney's Rose Bay and land in Newcastle just 30 minutes later.
Sit back and relax by riding the rails to Hamilton or Broadmeadow Stations, with connecting shuttle buses to central Newcastle and beaches until the light rail is installed (watch this space). Catch one of the regular Newcastle and Central Coast services departing from Central Station, Strathfield, Eastwood, Epping or Hornsby to continue north to Broadmeadow or Hamilton (www.transportnsw.info, www.sydneytrains.info).
TrainLink's inter-city services connect Brisbane to Broadmeadow via the regional cities of Casino, Grafton, Wauchope and Taree, before continuing to Sydney. Broadmeadow is a major railway hub: northwestern services from Armidale, Tamworth, Moree and Narrabri also arrive here.
Bike hire is easy in Newcastle and is a pleasant, enjoyable and convenient way to explore the city. Visit The Maritime Centre (3 Honeysuckle Drive, Newcastle) or Crowne Plaza Newcastle (Corner of Merewether Street and Wharf Road, Newcastle) to hire a Spinway bicycle for up to 24 hours. Bikes can be hired through the electronic kiosk at the bicycle bay via credit card payment, and helmets can be collected or returned through staff at The Maritime Centre or Crowne Plaza Newcastle. For more information on Spinway bicycle hire visit www.interbike.com.au.
For an alternative (and peddle free!) option try an electric bike. Newcastle Electric Bikes offer single or tandem electric bike hire for up to 5 days and can even provide guided tours if desired.
Newcastle is a very walkable city, with a range of scenic walking tracks in the city centre and suburbs of Newcastle. Some of the more popular walks include Bathers Way, stretching along the coastline from Newcastle Harbour to Merewether Beach. The Fernleigh Track is exceptionally popular for walkers and bike riders, and stretches through bushland from Adamstown in Newcastle through to Belmont in Lake Macquarie. One of the highlights of the Fernleigh Track is the 1890s built Fernleigh Tunnel, once used for transporting coal from the mines in Newcastle.
The Newcastle East Heritage Walk takes visitors on an inner city jaunt to many of Newcastle's earliest buildings, including Christchurch Cathedral, Custom House, the Convict Lumberyard and Newcastle Ocean Baths.
Useful phone numbers
For bus and ferry timetables, ticket and fare information contact Newcastle Buses and Ferries: 131 500
For taxi bookings and enquiries contact Newcastle Taxis: 132 227
For train timetables and service information contact Transport NSW: 131 500
For flight and airport transfer information contact Newcastle Airport: (02) 4928 9800