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Between the breaks of the Tasman Sea and the vineyards of the Hunter Valley, this miniature metropolis combines Victorian charm with beautiful vistas to make the perfect gateway to the sights of New South Wales. If you’re in the mood for iconic wines and craft beer, snorkeling with wild dolphins, or treetop adventures and hot-air balloons, the choice of things to do in Newcastle shows off the wealth of options in the rolling countryside, wide coast, and open sky around you.
A more rustic alternative to Newcastle’s main commercial district, this neighborhood near the city’s geographic center offers an array of little shops and a multicultural mood. 19th-century townhouses share the streets with brick storefronts and dining that ranges from kebabs and Italian bistros to dumpling shops.
A suburban-style area just south of central Newcastle, The Hill hosts some of the city’s finest Victorian homes and scenic views that stretch out to Stockton Beach. Home to both the iconic Christ Church Cathedral and a convict burial ground, the neighborhood has a lot of history behind its upscale feel.
Separated from the rest of Newcastle by the Hunter River, Stockton is famous for its sand, surfing, and shipwrecks. Surrounded by water on three sides, the neighborhood is one of the oldest in the city and has a distinct country vibe, complete with migratory birds who visit the marshes on the peninsula’s inland side.
The most scenic way to see the coast is with a visit to the Newcastle Memorial Walk, which runs along the breaking waves of the city’s southeastern shore. Stop for a swim in the sheltered saltwater pools of the Merewether Ocean Baths or check out the fortifications at Fort Scratchley to see how the sea helped to define local life, or take a longer view with a look at the artifacts at the Newcastle Museum.
If you’re in the mood to get out into the country, the wilderness course at TreeTops Newcastle Adventure Park lets you get a feel for the Australian bushland of the Blue Gum Hills. A visit to Pokolbin gives you a chance to check out the gentle hills of the Hunter Region from the air, either with a quick spin in a helicopter or with the timeless grace of a hot-air balloon. You can head up north to the Irukandji Aquarium for some time with the sharks and stingrays. For an introduction to some of the Hunter Valley’s best, you can head out for a winetasting tour or stay around town for a taste of Newcastle’s great craft beer.