They say Newcastle is Australia’s best kept secret. Certainly for me, it was a dull regional town just outside Sydney that I couldn’t ever imagine having a reason to visit; a quiet place I simply had no interest in. In retrospect, I can see how lucky I am that a reason to visit *did* present itself and that I was completely wrong about this undersated up-and-coming seaside city.
Newcastle isn’t just a regional town with nothing particularly going for it: it is a bustling hub with good shopping, great cafes and plenty of after-dark entertainment in the form of dimly lit concept bars, theatre spaces and busy restaurants. It is, for want of a better word, “trendy”; the quintessential hipster Mecca. And you get all this set on top of a beautiful coastline with a stunning beach and gorgous swimming baths maintained with dignified Art Deco styling. The Newcastle lifestyle can be summed up as enjoyment of bloody good coffee, with surfing.
An overnight stay in Newcastle introduced me to the opulent Williams Bar on Hunter Street, where you can enjoy flashy cocktails (mine a creme brûlée with a real caramelised sugar top) and fine dining; the quirky La Passé Temps French restaurant where it’s almost compulsory to indulge in escargots and beautifully baked French bread; the cosy and stylish Basement on Market Street where you can while away unnoticed hours with craft beer and cocktails; and delicious coffee and breakfast accompanied by chilled house beats and good vibes at Blue Door.
The city also has a striking cathedral and no shortage of well-maintained 19th-century buildings.
I couldn’t recommend enthusiastically enough that you make Newcastle your next weekend getaway.
All words and photographs: Rosie Pentreath
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