Newcastle is the second largest city in New South Wales, situated 170km north of Sydney. Although traditionally an industrial city, its reputation has grown in recent years, including being named in Lonely Planets top 10 cities to visit several years ago.
After arriving early, we walked through the large King Edward Park. This was another place where the Australian outdoor lifestyle was clear to see, with the pathways full of people walking and jogging. We also walked along the memorial walk, a cliff top walkway which was opened in 2015 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing.
Nearby is the Bogey Hole ocean pool, which is believed to be the oldest European structure in the area, dating back to 1818. However it now seems to be far more popular with fishermen than swimmers.
We made a short visit to the free to enter Fort Scratchly, which has great views across the city, before walking past Nobby’s Head and along the breakwall. This took us past the lighthouse, and the very popular Nobby’s beach, which was packed with swimmers and surfers.
We then checked out some of the town itself, with the most popular area centred around Darby Street. It was Saturday morning and the street was crowded, with the outdoor seating at the many cafes almost entirely full. We stopped for some very refreshing and ‘energising’ smoothies at Sanctuary, before getting back on the road. Although our visit was short, we left Newcastle with a great impression, and can see why it is becoming a more popular destination.
We travelled further along the coast, to the popular holiday destination of Port Stephens, where we spent a day and a half exploring. The area surrounds a large natural harbour, and is famous for its beaches and clear blue waters, which are particularly popular for sailing and fishing.
We stayed in Shoal Bay, and spent most of our first afternoon in the region doing some much needed relaxing, including another BBQ lunch and some reading on the beach.
However the next day we were up early and exploring, starting off with a visit to Fingal Bay, and the nearby Barry Park. After climbing over the rocks, we made our way to the viewing platform, where we spotted some whales far out to sea, making their migration north for winter.
Feeling even more adventurous we made the short but steep climb up to the Tomaree Head lookout, where the views of the surroundings were incredible. Rachael thought she saw more whales from one of the viewing platforms, but I’m convinced this time it was just rocks in the distance.
We also walked around the busy marina of Nelson Bay, which is lined with restaurants and bars, before heading further along the coast to catch another brilliant sunset at Corlette Point.
For a region we didn’t know much about, we loved it in Port Stephens and were disappointed we couldn’t stay for longer. If we return in the future, top of our list would be hiring a boat, which definitely looks the best way to explore the beautiful area.