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It’s surprisingly easy to get excited about Newcastle. A city which feels more like a relaxed coastal town, it offers community, coastline, sand, surf, cafés and restaurants. As New South Wale’s most evolving destination, we say give it a go.
1. SAIL IT! CoastXP Boat Tours
Hands up who wants to go in the bogey hole?
… Maybe we can convince you by explaining “bogey” is an indigenous word for bathe.
Also known as the Commandant's Baths, the bogey is a sheltered swimming pool cut into rock face, built by convicts in 1819 so Commandant Morisset could have his own private sun spot. It’s also part of CoastXP’s adventure boat experience: a sea trip which covers both the region’s rugged coastline and Aboriginal heritage. And boy, does Newcastle have ample of both. From sea caves and shipwrecks, to World War II forts and marine life, the Hunter Coast is sprinkled with fascinations, with Coast XP capturing the best of it from their 20-passenger Atmos vessel.
2. WALK IT! Newcastle Bathers Way Walk
Newcastle Bathers Way Walk is one of those man-made coastal beauties which Aussie executes so well. This wide, ocean-flanking boulevard encourages relaxed walks from Merewether Ocean Baths to Nobbys Beach, passing historical sites such as Fort Scratchley, secret swimming spots and even a daring detour down to Bogey Hole, as mentioned above. Stop for picnics in treelined parks, a spot of snorkelling, barbecues and hot chips from seaside cafes. If you’re feeling the heat, dive into the saltwater pool at Newcastle Ocean Baths, or duck into the dairy for an ice-cream.
3. PICNIC-IT! King Edward Park
Load up your basket with fresh baguettes, meats and cheese from the deli, and head to King Edward Park. It’s within walking distance of the CBD, as well as a handful of beaches. With so much space and shade, it’s also the perfect respite from midday sun. The views over the ocean are especially dazzling here so throw down your picnic rug and enjoy the seascape. To build up your appetite for a sarnie you might like to first peruse the manicured ‘Garside Garden’, investigate the kids’ play area, roll down the park’s many grassy hills (optional but highly recommended) or go for a refreshing dip. Which brings us nicely to…
4. SWIM IT! Bogey Hole pool
Not the bogey again! But, yes. You’ve seen it from the sea and trust us, now you’ll be dying to get in. It’s a beautiful and very inviting little spot - Commandant Morisset certainly knew as much.
Getting there requires a somewhat perilous yet invigorating five-minute descent from King Edward Park. In recent years, they’ve improved the staircase for safer access, however you may want to ensure your children have the dexterity of a mountain goat first. Once down, a rugged swimming pool is revealed; cut from the rock, with sea waves crashing in and out with as much theatrics as they can summon. What a top-spot for a swim. Enjoy a lap or two surrounded by dramatic sea spray firing high into the sky, and then stay for sunset because they’re truly special.
5. TRAM IT! Newcastle Famous Tram
The famous "Newcastle Tram" is a genuine replica of the city’s original working tram, but it’s been kitted out with wheels since its 1923 heyday. Arguably the most unique way to drink up Newcastle’s inner-city highlights and surrounds, hop on and enjoy an 80-minutes snapshot of scenic portside and beachside views, while your lively driver provides the entertainment. If you know 27 other enthusiasts, why not hire Trammy for an entire day? Tram vineyard tours are available on request, chugging across many of the Hunter Valley’s best wineries in the quirkiest manner imaginable. Create your own wine route, or sit back and let the driver decide.
6. LEARN IT! Newcastle Museum
With so much activity and interaction on offer, Newcastle Museum might be small but it has a big impact on its visitors. Entry is free to the main venue but there’s often a charge for travelling exhibitions. Located in the heart of Newcastle, in the Honeysuckle Railway workshops, exhibits cover everything from the natural environment, early Aboriginal life and Newcastle history, as well as the city’s industrial roots and steel workers. There’s even a bit of science, maths and engineering thrown in to titillate the proper egg heads. You’ll come out more learned than you went in, and if you pop into the on-site Sprout Canteen, you’ll come out a little fuller too.
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