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Sally Fitzgibbons’ Insider Guide to Newcastle

Sally brings her insider knowledge, sharing her best tips & hidden gems for a weekend getaway in Newcastle

Just 2 hours north of Sydney in coastal New South Wales lies Newcastle. Packed full of great things to see and do, Newcastle is perfect for Sydney locals wanting a city escape or international travellers on an Australian road trip.

There is so much fun to be had in Newcastle and of course I hit up the stunning beaches but I also wanted share some of my favourite places to eat, sleep and swim.

- Sally Fitzgibbons, Australian Professtional Surfer
Sally Fitzgibbons, Newcastle Esplanade
Sally Fitzgibbons, Newcastle Esplanade


Whether you arrived in Newcastle in the morning or drove down the night before, everyone knows you need a good coffee in order to start the day right. So park the car, grab your day bag and set off in search of caffeine and a tasty breakfast!
Newcastle is packed full of excellent hidden (and more well-known) cafes and coffee shops. We recommend stopping at Three Monkeys Café (a Newcastle institution) for a hearty breakfast.

Once you’re fuelled-up and ready to make a start on the day, head to Queens Wharf  Tower and jump on Newcastle’s Historic Tram. It’s a great way to discover the city and coastline, without tiring yourself out too much. If you feel like taking in the views from above, then brave the Christ Church Cathedral Climb and witness 360° views of the city.

Sally’s Tip: My beach vibe spot would be Blue Door Cafe down on Merewether Beach. They’ve really set the benchmark for simple food, done well and it’s also the perfect location to watch the waves roll in. If you’re looking for somewhere with a casual dining scene, Momo Wholefood is another one of my favourites; great atmosphere, lovely staff and nothing but fresh produce cooked from scratch – yum!


Later in the day, make your way to Fort Scratchley and uncover Newcastle’s rich history. A former coastal defence installation, Fort Scratchley is a must-see attraction for history lovers. Discover the amazing underground tunnels, check out the museum and exhibitions and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for whales out in the distance (normally between the months of May and November each year). 
Afterwards, take a stroll from Fort Scratchley along the Breakwall of Nobby’s Beach, up to Nobbys Lighthouse (which is still a functioning lighthouse). From here, you can enjoy excellent views of Newcastle, Stockton and the Hunter River. 

Sally’s Tip: I love to run the coastal esplanades making sure I loop up and over the ANZAC Memorial Walk, it is amazing up there and feels like you’re floating above all of Newy. And, the best part is you can choose from either a 450m or 6km track, either way it really doesn’t matter which option you choose, the ocean views are top notch.

Novotel Newcastle Beach
Novotel Newcastle Beach, situated on the doorstep of one of the best surfbreaks in Australia

Once you’ve well-and-truly worked up an appetite, it’s time to sit back and watch the evening roll in at one of Newcastle’s excellent beach bars and restaurants. Try Merewether Surfhouse for delicious pizzas and swanky cocktails or The Beach Hotel for casual dining with plenty of beers on tap. 

Sally’s Tip: If you’re looking for a beach hotel in Newcastle, Novotel Newcastle Beach is the place to stay. I love starting the day heading out from Novotel Newcastle at main beach and going for a run around to Nobby’s lighthouse and back. Jump in for swim as the sun is rising over at the ocean baths and then grab a Chai latte at Estabar Cafe on the beachfront in front of Novotel. You’ll never be disappointed starting a day like that!

Sally Competing and winning the 2019 Newcastle Surfest
Sally Competing and winning the 2019 Newcastle Surfest


Day two – and it’s time to hit the water (so be sure to bring your swimmers ). But first… breakfast! Make your way to Ground Up Espresso for a great brew and a tasty breakfast. You definitly won’t be able to pass up Poached Eggs Stack or perhaps try Build Your Own Breaky if you’re feeling like something a little more, you. You’ll know you’ve found it when you see a brightly-coloured Tetris building. Or head towards the beach and visit Estabar Cafe. It’s a Newcastle favourite, with excellent ocean views and an all-day breakfast sure to satisfy all appetites. Try the blackfox crumpets or pesto and eggs on sourdough – yum!

Sally Tip: It’s so hard to pick the best beaches in Newcastle to surf, the waves around Newcastle are just so fun. The most consistent surfing spots are Newcastle’s main beach and the stretch from Bar Beach over to Merewether Beach. The sand bars move around heaps so you always get an awesome variety of waves depending on each swell.

Merewether Ocean Baths
Opened in 1935, Merewether Ocean Baths are the largest ocean baths in the Southern Hemisphere.

After breakfast take a stroll down to Bogey Hole. This picture-perfect sea bath is heritage-listed and you’ll understand why once you’re there. Hand-built by convicts in 1819, Bogey Hole is worth the visit, even if it’s too chilly to swim. However, with big crashing waves making their way into the bath, it’s not a great place for swimming laps. Instead, head to Merewether Ocean Baths that are equally as beautiful and a lot more suitable for those looking to work out. 
Wrapping up a trip in Newcastle wouldn’t be complete without some excellent seafood at Scotties Beach House. Serving-up Newcastle’s favourite seafood since 1950 it’s  fair to say they’ve got it down to a fine art! 

Sally’s Tip: Sunset drinks at the Queens Wharf Hotel super cool Newy vibe on the water and really is a must-do to finish your time in Newcastle.


Sally’s Final Tip:

If you manage to find a little more time while visiting Newcastle, I couldn’t recommend Philippa Anderson’s Surf School enough. Philippa is a great friend on the World Surf League Tour, and being born and bred in Newcastle she’s definitly got all the local knowledge on Newcastle – so if you’re keen to pick up a board and give surfing a go Phillippa Anderson’s Surf School is a must! 

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