Newcastle, New South Wales
We’ve all heard of Sydney and Brisbane but have you heard of Newcastle? No not the city up North in England that hosts the Great North Run, the warmer one in New South Wales, Australia! It’s easy to miss but it’s worth a stop over. If you like craft beer, independent shops and a youthful creative vibe in a city then this one’s for you.
The feel of the place is pretty unique. It feels quiet and slow in a comforting way but then also subtly energetic with vibrant artistic murals on the walls and pop up style shops. It feels like just the kind of place I could live. Chilled but where you could make your artistic dreams a reality.
Take a look at Hunter & Hunter for a bit of home inspo for starters. If you touch down in Newy, I’d recommend picking up a copy of the fold out Urban Walkabout guide which has even more cool places to add to your map.
Enough dreaming! Below I’ll be showing you the shops and places to eat and drink that I loved when I visited for 3 days plus a couple of places to head to a little further afield…
Hunter street is one for a mix of arty shops, doughnuts and the odd spice emporium. Studio Melt is my favourite shop along the strip. Stock up on local illustrators’ artworks including prints by Trevor Dickenson who created the street murals above, hand beaded jewellery and homewares.
My favourite indie shop was Blackbird Corner situated on the brilliant Darby Street and run by a friendly Englishman and his wife. I’d gotten a heads up about it from a few different sources and luckily it lived up to expectations. If you’re a Frankie Magazine kinda gal, head here. Freshly stocked with Frankie journals the day walked in, I was in paradise. I’ve since fallen in love with a pile of paper: Places Magazine is my fave export right now and helps me dream of returning to Aus!
Digging cacti? Memphis inspired designs all over your Pinterest board? Pop into High Swan Dive, a teeny tiny shop taking up a little corner of a room neatly stocked like your cool aunts front room. I was so tempted to get one of the cups above but was a little scared of breaking it on my journey. Next time!
Gotta love a bit of history and cultural education! Fort Scratchley is your first fort of call! Amble around the barracks, take a tour back in time and take a walk around where the canons sat to admire the view over the ocean and the various splits of Newcastle land.
If being up high is your jam, take a walk along the newly refurbished Memorial Walk where you can gaze down on the public out door baths and learn a bit of world war history as you go.
Theres been lots of regeneration in Newcastle and that includes it’s museum. Newcastle Museum has been praised all over for its modern and engaging exhibitions. The science room is the most fun, try out all the physics and memory games or try and lift car!
If you’re more into art, there’s nowhere quite as unique as The Lock Up. An old prison, now a modern art gallery. I’m not sure what was more arresting (lol) the works or the leather padded detainment cell!
Australian cities seem to love their big vintage warehouses so I was curious to discover the Centenary Center and see what Newcastle memorabilia I could unearth. There were loads of colourful plastic midcentury pieces and a big dose of kitsch all laid out in a manageable fashion. Definitely one to poke your head into if you’re in the museum area.
Like beer? Hell you’re doing good being in Newcastle! Craft beer breweries and pubs are popping up like daisies in spring over here. Foghorn Brewhouse opened only a couple of months ago and boasts some wittily named brews along with delicious pizza and ample space to dance or jig or whatever you fancy, all alongside the huge beer vats fermenting that sweet pint as you sip. Grab a tasting palette and give em all a try. Hic!
For somewhere with a more homely feel, head to the other side of town to Grain Store where you can dine and dice roll at your will and even plonk your behind in a cosy sofa. Many a beer on tap here although I personally had to check out the ginger beer section. So tasty.
Oh Scottie’s is just so romantic! It might smell of fish but how the colourful lights strung up on the palm trees and the sound of laughter from the restaurants open door takes you away. Not that Newcastle isn’t tropical but you do defs get the desert island vibes here at night. Choose from a neat limited menu and get it served up fresh. Order yourself a ridiculously cheap ‘pot’ of beer, grab a complimentary blanket, sit yourself outside and you’ll be sorted.
I have to tell you secret, Newcastle weather can be crap. Think winds, grey skies, drizzle, bad hair. But then you have Estabar cafe with hot chocolate and chai lattes and all is well. Gaze out on to the blustery sea from the long windows running all along the inside and flick through a Frankie publication. Perhaps even indulge in a cake. If it’s nice in winter, imagine in summer!
Ok, I’ve got two more lunch places below and you must go to both for very different reasons. After you’ve shopped Hunter Street, head down by the colourful steps to Three Bears Kitchen and stuff yo face with those tasty burgers. The rustic, ripped decor and manly touches set the tone.
For somewhere to then detox, head to Blue Door. Total flip side to Three bears, this cafe is all about the best healthy, raw and fresh ingredients it can get its fingers on. Set in an old depot, the name refers to the colour of the door that the staff enters in and out of when on shifts. Our lamb bowls were so good! Weird gloopy chia juices optional.
I’ve finally realised that Australia is the land of the doughnut. You can find plenty of big, loud crazy ones like those in Brisbane. Or, you can pop into Doughheads shop on Hunter street that looks like a giant cardboard box and pick up a modest but heartily good fresh ring of dough.
So I love Koalas, I mean LOVE. So where better to finally meet my furry friends for the first time but, erm, the Australian Reptile Park?! Just a little out of Newcastle and full of your fave sun-bathing critters, plus one HUGE one (Hey Elvis the crocodile!) the park also looks after birds, tazmanian devils, an adorable wombat and my little tree hugging babies. There were tears, stroking, more tears and then when it all got too much we had a BBQ right in the middle of all the wallabies. So Aussie.
I was once a Geologist in a past life so coming to Caves Beach was a dream. I mean, look at that sedimentary rock strata! Fun for all the family, you can creep around caves, climb up rocks and get your toes kissed by fishies in rockpools. Or, you could just chill on the beach, whatever. It’s lovely and quiet in the week and will add a bit of countryside to your trip if you’re heading down to Sydney. Bliss.
Next up, I’m off to Sydney and Melbourne, stay tuned!
Massive thanks to my boyfriends sister for putting us up for the trip!