Places to Go, Things to See
Newcastle (2 days stay)
First stop on your North Coast tour is Newcastle. Newcastle has five surf Beaches and two outdoor Ocean Baths (including Merewether which is the largest in southern Hemisphere) so there is little excuse not to get at least your feet wet. For a sense of Newcastle's heritage why not ride Newcastle's Famous Tram which takes you on a three quarter hour tour of the towns history and heritage. An abundance of history is on display for you to see with the Newcastle Regional Museum, The Newcastle Maritime Museum (boats, models, artefacts, housed in historic Fort Scratchley) and the Newcastle Police Station Museum with displays concerning the towns the civil era policing as well for the convict era from when the town was established.
Further evidence of the town's convict laden past can be seen by visiting the Convict Lumbar Yard which was the main work area of the settlement. The convict workforce left a lasting impression on the town with the Bogey Hole that was hard carved out of a cliff face by convicts in the 19th Century (to form a personal bath for the then military commander) and also by the breakwater they were directed to create by halving the height of Nobby's Headland. The now lowered headland which was named by Captain Cook (to whom there is a memorial fountain in the towns Civic Park) now also has a Lighthouse and with its very scenic views is a popular walking place. It's also the starting point of the Bathers Way walk, a five kilometre scenic coastal walk that meanders from Nobby's Light House to Merewether.
Of the many scenic views in Newcastle the view from Queens Wharf Tower is also of note. Captain Cook Memorial Fountain (Civic Park). Overlooking Newcastle you will also find the Obelisk which was used in past as a maritime landmark for the approach to Newcastle, though originally it was only meant to be a flour mill used to grind the convict's wheat rations.
The natural splendour of the Newcastle region can be enjoyed at the Blackbutt Reserve with its many birds, kangaroos, Koalas and Wombats, the Kooragang Wetlands or the Hunter Wetlands Centre where you can explore the extensive pond network in canoe. Art lovers can visit the Newcastle Regional Art Gallery or the John Paynter Gallery while exhibitions of Aboriginal art and craft for sale can be seen at the Outback Art Mayfield and Aboriginal Artists of Australia Galleries.
Consider a ferry trip across the harbour to nearby Stockton with its impressive sweep of sandy beaches and dunes. There is also the Shipwreck Walk along Stockton breakwater where 16 wrecked or scuttled vessels can be seen including the French ship Adolphe which actually has a viewing platform erected to make it even more accessible.
Also possibly worth a visit is the town of Toronto. There you will find the Toronto City Art Gallery (includes the historic Awaba House, a sculpture garden, a mosaic pathway as well as a picnic garden and a cafe), easy access to Lake Macquarie, Dobell House (the studio and residence of renowned painter William Dobell) and the Westlake Retired Mineworkers Museum.
Shopaholics may also enjoy a brief detour to Cooks Hill where the Darby Street precinct will delight with its eclectic boutiques, bookshops and cafes