12 Surprising things you can do in Newcastle
Sail on the Newcastle Harbour
Don’t know your port from your stern? Never fear. Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club offers a range of learn to sail programs that will have you tacking and jibing on Newcastle’s beautiful harbour.
Get a taste of sailing, join like-minded women for a female only sailing course or jump aboard a yacht for a Friday sail into the weekend.
Afterwards enjoy sundowners at the clubhouse.
Make your own gin
Make your own gin at the new Earp Distillery Co. Newcastle.
The three-hour spirit making class runs through the history of distilling and allows participants to use their choice of botanicals to create a bespoke gin to bottle and take home.
Take a lofty Pilgrimmage
Make the pilgrimage to the imposing Christchurch Cathedral which dominates the Newcastle skyline. The historic grand Gothic Revival cathedral resides in an elevation position behind the city and is floodlit spectacularly by night.
Stroll through the cathedral surrounds and explore the burial ground; the first European burial ground in Newcastle and one of Australia’s first.
*The church normally allows visitors to climb the cathedral’s tower which affords sweeping vistas of Newcastle however it’s currently not offered due to Covid-19. Check ahead for opening times.
See incredible street art
Follow the art trail from the Big Picture Fest – a world class street art festival that made its debut in Newcastle – and admire the large-scale murals that now grace the city’s streets.
You’ll find colourful, edgy and inspiring works by Jordan Lucky Artist, Inari and Olas One to name but a few.
Follow the trail
Image © Fintan Magee, The Big Picture Fest and Lee Illfield Photography
Dose up on culture at the clanger
Visit The Lock-up, home to Newcastle Police Station from 1861 until 1982 and one of Newcastle’s most significant heritage buildings.
Re-opening as a cultural centre in 2007, the award-winning independent arts space showcases local and contemporary Australian art as well as exhibitions, workshops, creative talks and more.
Mosey through the mangroves
Tucked away in Newcastle’s inner harbourside village of Carrington is a raised boardwalk that zig zags its way through lush mangrove trees.
An important habitat, the mangroves are home to scurrying crabs, fish, birds and a (noisy) resident Flying-fox population.
Stop at the viewing platform where you may spot kayakers or SUP’ers paddling by. Cross Hannel St bridge and hang a left to reach the foreshore pathway which also forms part of a level harbourside running track.
Image © Jack Banks, @unsolarized via instagram
Shop for vintage treasures
Those with a penchant for all things retro will love Newcastle’s nostalgic shops.
Shop for vintage threads, home furnishings and more at the clutch of eclectic shops at the Islington end of Beaumont Street. Here you’ll find Stone Saint Moon, Hide and Seeker, The Conscience Exchange and a treasure trove of antique shops.
Nearby mosey your way through Clyde Street’s row of warehouses in Hamilton North offering antique, retro, second hand furniture and op shop clothing. Pop in for lunch afterwards beneath the soaring gum trees at Clyde Street Café.
Go overseas for lunch
Board the Stockton Ferry which plies Newcastle Harbour between Queens Wharf and Stockton.
From there you can stroll along the Shipwreck Walk, an easy 2km walk along the Stockton breakwater, home to many a shipwreck. Afterwards let the kids loose at the Stockton Active Hub and Playground where kids can skate and play along the harbourfront.
Stop for lunch at Lexies on the Beach or grab a hearty steak and ale at the General Washington Hotel overlooking the harbour.
*Did you know the phenomenal Stockton Bight Sand Dunes are the largest moving coastal dunes in the Southern Hemisphere? Created tens of thousands of years ago, the otherworldly dunes stretch 32 kilometres from Birubi Beach in Port Stephens all the way to Newcastle.
Get your Japanese on
Are you a Japanophile?
Jam’s Karaoke and Bar offers an authentic karaoke experience in private, fully-serviced rooms with modern karaoke machines. The traditional Tachinomi bar hidden away on an alleyway in Newcastle’s burgeoning west end offers a wide-ranging sake menu, beers, cocktails and izakaya food.
Cap off a fun night with a Japanese whisky and plate of steaming gyoza nearby at The Koutetsu. Or kick on at the Rogue Scholar. While there’s nothing remotely Japanese about this bar, its rotating range of tap brews and live music makes it well worth a visit.
Sightsee by foot or bike
Unearth the city’s hidden gems on custom-made bikes decked out in locally inspired paint jobs on a new tour with Ben Ogden from Newy Rides.
Becky Kiil from Newcastle Afoot also operates small guided walking tours and grassroots local experiences, connecting people to local business owners and introducing them to creatives.
Unleash your inner Picasso
Unleash your inner Picasso at a Pinot and Picasso class at Newcastle Artist Mitch Revs’ gallery. Professional artists guide you through a fun step-by-step painting class in a three-hour workshop involving singing, painting and sipping.
BYO drinks and grazing board. Classes run Friday, Saturday and Sunday each week