I finally visit Newcastle, NSW, after ignoring it before!

View of the city of Newcastle from a waterfront walkway
View of the city of Newcastle from a waterfront walkway
One of the beaches just before arriving in Newcastle
One of the beaches just before arriving in Newcastle
Another beach before Newcastle
Another beach before Newcastle
View from our hotel in Forster
View from our hotel in Forster
View from our hotel in The Entrance. Notice the freight ships on the horizon!
View from our hotel in The Entrance. Notice the freight ships on the horizon!
University of Newcastle logo
University of Newcastle logo

Lonely Planet has chosen Australia’s Newcastle as one of the world’s Top 10 Cities in Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2011.

Best in Travel 2011 is Lonely Planet’s sixth eagerly-awaited annual collection of the best trends, destinations, journeys and experiences for the upcoming year.

Ranked ninth on the book’s list of Top 10 Cities 2011, Newcastle is “a unique blend of imagination, sophistication and laid-back surf culture,” Lonely Planet says.

Newcastle flies under the radar of Aussies and international travellers in part because it’s overshadowed by its bigger, bolder and better-known sibling, Sydney, 150km south, “ the book says. “But, at around one-tenth the size, Australia’s second-oldest city has Sydney-like assets: surf beaches, a sun-drenched subtropical climate, and diverse dining, nightlife and arts.”

Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Cities 2011 are:

  1. New York City, USA
  2. Tangier, Morocco
  3. Tel Aviv, Israel
  4. Wellington, New Zealand
  5. Valencia, Spain
  6. Iquitos, Peru
  7. Ghent, Belgium
  8. Delhi, India
  9. Newcastle, Australia
  10. Chiang Mai, Thailand

I had driven from Brisbane to Sydney many times in the past, but never stopped in Newcastle to have a look at the place, as I thought it was just an industrial town. For that reason I was surprised to discover that some friends of ours, relocated a few months ago from Sydney to Newcastle of all places! As my husband had a conference in Sydney in July 2010, that was the perfect opportunity for us to go and visit them, as we were going to Australia then and would be driving from Brisbane to Sydney anyway.

We did go to visit our friends in Newcastle and it was very nice to see them again! They were very happy to be living in Newcastle now and they could easily go to Sydney by train whenever they wanted to, as it was not that far away. They invited us for dinner one evening and they took us to a Spanish restaurant and, as I originally come from Peru, I was thrilled to see that it was decorated with Peruvian ornaments, like a Cajamarca mirror and a Peruvian Tumi!

My husband’s visited his colleague friends in the university, which he liked very much, as it was in the outskirts of the city. They have now invited him to spend a three-month sabbatical in their university next year, so we are looking forward to coming back to that city again, but for an extended period!

We were able to visit many nice places on the way to Newcastle, like The Entrance and Forster, but we know that there are many other worthwhile places in the area, like the Hunter Valley and Lake Macquarie, which will all have to wait until we return next year for us to go and pay them a visit!

We were staying in the Crown Plaza Hotel, which was right at the waterfront and many times we went walking along the boardwalk, which was lined with bushes and trees, going past many restaurants, bars and shops. It was most pleasant, as we found many people there, either walking jogging, cycling or having picnics on the lawns.

We also went for a walk to have a look at the lighthouse at the far end of the pier and again it was full of activity there, with people cycling, parents with strollers, as well as children riding their bicycles. There was water on either side of the wide walkway; sea breezes and we found it most enjoyable there! We even found that there were people fishing there!

We saw a big ship about to leave the port and tugboats helping manoeuvre it around. We also saw a helicopter above and it landed on one of the ships waiting to come in and we figured it might be delivering the pilot, who might be steering the boat past the narrow entrance to the port.

We counted about five ships waiting in queue, but we did not know whether they were approaching or leaving the port. Unknown to us at the time, we were to come across many of these ships later on as we proceeded along the New South Wales coast and they looked just like little dark rectangles resting on the distant horizon

The Newcastle metropolitan area is the second most populated area in New South Wales (NSW). It is situated 162 kilometres fromSydneyand it is at the mouth of the Hunter River. Famous for its coal, Newcastle is presently the largest coal exporting harbour in the world, having exported 92.8 Mt of coal in 2009.

The Hunter Valley is one of the largest river valleys in NSW, and is commonly known not only for its coal, but also for its wineries in both the red and white wine varieties. The Hunter Valley is a major tourist destination in New South Wales and is the 6th most visited place in Australia, attracting more than 2.5 million people every year!

Map of Newcastle, New South Wales

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