Things to do in Newcastle, NSW

⚓️ 26 Unusual & FREE Things to Do in Newcastle, NSW

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Newcastle, the harbour city by the sea. This place really turned out to be such a surprise for us. We discovered so many unusual things to do in Newcastle (many of which were free) and found it to be an incredibly family-friendly city.

I’ll admit, all I ever knew about Newcastle was that Silverchair came from there and that it was known to be a Port City. Every time we went down to Sydney to see family, we always drove right on by Newcastle and never ventured in.

Newcastle turned out to be a bustling sea-side city with a seemingly endless amount of things to explore. With so many things to do in Newcastle, such as Caves Beach, the Bogey Hole, multiple Ocean Baths and Shipwreck Walk, we were contentedly exhausted by the end of our stay.

We had decided that we’d spend a good 5 days exploring all that we could in Newcaslte and we were not disappointed. Our main expenses were accommodation (there are no free or low-cost camps in Newcastle) and fuel as we stayed 40 minutes out of town at Swansea.

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FREE Things to Do in Newcastle

We didn’t intentionally set out to seek out free things to do in Newcastle NSW, it just panned out that many of them were in fact free or cheap, which always helps the travel budget stretch a bit further.

NEWCASTLE QUICK FACTS
Population322,278 (as at 2016 census)
Established1804
Location168 km north-east of Sydney, NSW Australia
Average Rainfall1118 mm annually
Average Summer TemperaturesLow 19ºC – High 25ºC
Average Winter TemperaturesLow 9ºC – 19ºC

Use the interactive map below to locate all of the free and unusual things to do in Newcastle covered in this article.

MAP KEY:
🟡 YELLOW Pin Drops = Things to do in Newcastle, NSW


Caves Beach

Caves Beach, Newcastle NSW
Caves Beach, NSW

Just as the name suggests, Caves Beach is a series of sea caves right along the beach. They’re located near Swansea in Lake Macquarie, about 40 minutes south of the Newcastle CBD, but totally worth the drive!

Crawl through narrow openings, watch water drip from the roof and walls, wander around the cave network and be mesmerised by the ocean as it pulsates in and out of the rock formations. Let the kids play in the rock pools outside of the caves, while you look around at the moss strewn rocks.

Caves Beach, Newcastle NSW
Inside one of the caves, Caves Beach NSW

Exploring Caves Beach is right up there as one of our favourite FREE things to do in Newcastle, NSW!

Accessing the Caves
The caves are easy enough to access. You can park at the Caves Beach Surf Life Saving Club, which has good facilities onsite (toilets, outdoor showers, rubbish bins, seating etc.). Head down to the beach and make your way to the rocky caves over to the right and you’re there!

Caves Beach, Newcastle NSW

Check the Tides
Make sure you check the local tide times for Caves Beach. The safest time to explore the caves is around low tide before they end up submerged once again.  We arrived right on low tide, which gave us plenty of time to look around, plus we got to see the water starting to come back in.

CAVES BEACH
CostFREE
When to goAround low tide
Address127/ 139 Caves Beach Road, Caves Beach NSW 2281

Nobbys Lighthouse

Nobbys Lighthouse, Newcastle NSW

The Nobbys Head Lighthouse is an active lighthouse, still in use today. It sits atop a rocky outcrop at the headland on the south side of the Newcastle Harbour entranceway.

Originally Nobbys Lighthouse was actually seperate from the mainland with a narrow stretch of shallow water breaking the two apart. Later down the track a pier was constructed, followed by a breakwater, all using convict labour.

The driveway up to the lighthouse is open every Sunday from 10 am – 4 pm and whenever Cruise Ships are coming into port (as it offers a great vantage point). To find out when the next Cruise Liner will be coming in, check out the Cruise Ship Schedule.

Don’t worry, the rest of the week you can take the walk around the bottom of the lighthouse and out to the end of the breakwater, which still offers spectacular views looking back to Nobbys Lighthouse.

NOBBYS LIGHTHOUSE
CostFREE
Opening Hours10.00 am – 4.00 pm Sundays (to get right to the top)
AddressNewcastle East, NSW 2300

Bogey Hole

Bogey Hole, Newcastle NSW
The Bogey Hole, Newcastle NSW

The Bogey Hole is the oldest ocean pool along the east coast of Australia! It’s one of the more unusual things to do in Newcastle and well worth adding to your list.

If you’re wanting a bit of a thrill seeker’s swim with mother nature crashing against the walls, this is the one for you. Watching the waves spill over the rocks and into the pool is just spectacular. On days where the swell is big and rough, it’d be a pretty dangerous swim, but calmer days are great fun.

Here are some more natural swimming holes around Australia to check out.

Bogey Hole, Newcastle NSW
Waves crashing over the walls at the Bogey Hole

Unusual Bogey Hole facts:

  • It was hand-cut by convicts out of an existing wave-cut rock platform
  • Originally made for Major James Morisset (Newcastle’s longest serving Commandant)
  • Built in 1819 as the Major’s personal ‘bath’
  • Newcastle Council gained control of the bath in 1863
  • The Council enlarged it and opened it up to the public
  • It was mainly used by male swimmers, but women were permitted at set times
  • The final enlargement happened in 1894 to it’s current size
Bogey Hole, Newcastle NSW
Bogey Hole platform

TIP – The rocks can be slippery and sharp underfoot, so be careful. Take note of the conditions on the day, there are many times when the Bogey Hole is just too dangerous to swim. Here’s the full run-down on the Bogey Hole.

BOGEY HOLE
CostFREE
When to goA fine calm day around low tide
AddressShortland Esplanade, Newcastle NSW 2300

Newcastle Memorial Walk

The Newcastle Memorial Walk is a beautiful coastal clifftop walkway, stretching between two sections.

Starting at the Strzelecki Lookout, the 160m long bridge makes its way to another viewing platform. The second area is a stairway connecting the memorial walk to Bathers Way, with the whole walk being 450 metres long.

2015 saw the development of the memorial walk, marking the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing in Gallipoli.

Interestingly, this date also marks 100 years since the BHP Steelworks opened in Newcastle, providing the bulk of NSW’s contribution to the war. It’s because of this that the memorial walk was built using 64 tonnes of stainless steel.

As you wander the bridge, you’ll notice steel silhouettes of soldiers with the names of almost 11,000 Hunter Valley men and women who were enlisted in World War I.

NEWCASTLE MEMORIAL WALK
CostFREE
When to goAnytime, lights illuminate the path by night.
Address28 Memorial Drive, The Hill NSW 2300

Bathers Way Walk

Nobby's Beach, Newcastle NSW
Nobbys Beach, Newcastle NSW

Bathers Way is the perfect place to walk, cycle or scoot along the Newcastle coastline.

The 6km long coastal walk goes from Nobbys Beach to Mereweather Beach, linking up to the Memorial Walk. You’ll find access to all of the beaches that are situated along Bathers Way, as well as viewing platforms, seating and shade.

Bathers Way points of interest:

  • Nobbys Lighthouse
  • Nobbys Beach
  • ‘Grounded’ sculpture
  • Soldiers Baths
  • Newcastle Ocean Baths
  • Bogey Hole
  • King Edward Park
  • Shepherds Hill Military Defence Group
  • Strzelecki Lookout
  • Newcastle Memorial Walk
  • Bar Beach
  • Dixon Park Beach
  • Mereweather Beach
  • Mereweather Ocean Baths

FUN FACT: Bathers Way Walk is actually a part of the Great North Walk, which stretches from the Mereweather Ocean Baths, right down to Sydney.

BATHERS WAY WALK
CostFREE
When to goAnytime
Address• To start at Nobbys Lighthouse – Newcastle East, NSW 2300
• To start at Mereweather Ocean Baths – 5 Henderson Parade, Mereweather NSW 2291

Soldiers Baths

At the southern end of Nobbys Beach is a semi-circle ring of rocks, which is hidden under the water until the tide goes out. This is where the soldiers who were stationed at Fort Scratchley used to bathe.

In the late 1800’s some large rocks formed a seawall, creating an oval pool 180 yards (164 metres) long. The bottom of the ‘bath’ consisted of coal shale and sand.

By the early 1900’s, storms had damaged the baths, filling them with sand and making them unswimmable.

There’s a plaque on the Bathers Way walking track with more information.

SOLDIERS BATHS
CostFREE
When to goAnytime
AddressShortland Esplanade, NSW 2300

Newcastle Ocean Baths

Newcastle Ocean Baths, Newcastle NSW
Newcastle Ocean Baths, Newcastle NSW

The Newcastle Ocean Baths have been around since 1922 and are iconic to the local coastal landscape. It’s hard to imagine that the huge pool was hammered out of a rock shelf, while all of the bits and pieces were carted off by horse and dray along a small rail line.

While you’re visiting, make sure you have a look around the heritage listed art deco Pavilion, which houses the open-air change rooms with amenities, plus a basic Cafe. The kids also got a lot out of watching where the water rushes in through the filter system from the ocean.

Newcastle Ocean Baths, Newcastle NSW
Newcastle Ocean Baths, Newcastle NSW

Swimming Areas:

As you’d expect, the swimming pools are filled with natural ocean water and manned with Lifeguards 7 days a week all year round.

There are two swimming areas. One larger one (75m x 45m) for general swimming and a smaller section (50m x 12m) with lane ropes for doing laps.

For younger and less confident swimmers, I’d recommend checking out the adjacent Canoe Pool. It’s much shallower and is more protected from the ocean swells.

NOTE – Baths close once a week for cleaning, you may want to check the cleaning schedule before visiting.

NEWCASTLE OCEAN BATHS
CostFree
When to goAnytime, as long as they’re not closed for cleaning
Address30 Shortland Esplanade, Newcastle NSW 2300

Shipwreck Walk

Shipwreck Walk, Newcastle NSW
Shipwreck Walk, Stockton NSW

The Stockton Breakwall (directly adjacent to Nobbys Lighthouse and Breakwall) is also locally known as ‘Shipwreck Walk,’ which is another fantastic free and unusual thing to do while visiting Newcastle.

Many ships during the 19th and early 20th centuries ended up shipwrecked as they tried to navigate the entry into the Newcastle Harbour. It’s believed that as many as 200 ships were lost during that time along with many lives.

As you wander along the 2km Breakwall you’ll notice plaques along the way, which share the details of ships lost and the years in which they sunk. Although the timbers ships haven’t survived, the wrecks and hulls of a few iron and steel ships can still be seen along the way.

Shipwreck Walk, Newcastle NSW
“Walking the plank” along Shipwreck Walk, Newcastle NSW

You’ll feel like you’re walking the plank as you head out to the viewing platform, where you’ll get to hang over the biggest wreck along the Breakwall.

TIP – Keep an eye out for dolphins, whales, fish and the resident pelicans who like to perch on top of the light posts. This is also one of the best vantage points to view the huge ships as they come in and out of Newcastle Harbour.

SHIPWRECK WALK
CostFREE
When to goAnytime
AddressKing Street, Stockton NSW 2295

Mereweather Aquarium Walk

Mereweather Aquarium, Newcastle NSW
Mereweather Aquarium Walk, Mereweather NSW

The first thing you think about when someone says ‘Aquarium’ are sea creatures in big glass tanks. Well this pedestrian underpass in Mereweather has been amazingly transformed into a complete underwater world.

The main artist who put brush to wall is a local guy named Trevor Dickinson who even features in the pop-art as a diver.

The Aquarium Walk is opposite the Beach Hotel and serves as a quirky shortcut for people to access Mereweather Beach and Ocean Baths on Henderson Parade.

This is a really fun activity for your list of free and unusual things to do in Newcastle. Go for a wander and see what you can discover in the Mereweather Aquarium Walk.

MEREWEATHER AQUARIUM WALK
CostFREE
When to goAnytime (daylight hours are best)
AddressHenderson Parade, Mereweather NSW 2291


Newcastle Museum

Newcastle Museum, NSW

If you want to learn all about Newcastle in a fun way, head to the FREE Museum in town. The only thing we had to pay for was parking, which cost around $5 for two hours.

Inside you’ll be greeted with a giant Plant Earth, which was just fascinating to observe. There’s a fantastic play area for younger kids, filled with climbing things, giant blocks and a padded floor. Every Tuesday is a Tiny Tots Story-telling session for kids under 5.

We found a huge permanent exhibition called ‘Supernova,’ filled with a variety of interactive science experiments for the older kids, including using leverage to lift a car, how fast you can throw a ball, magnetics, holograms and more.

Another awesome permanent exhibition is the ‘Fire & Earth’ display, which includes a 6 minute show with smoke and lights. Here you’ll delve into the history of the steelworks industry of the region.

Then you can take a wander through ‘A Newcastle Story,’ showcasing all sorts of relics and snippets of information from years gone by. It was cool to see the photos of Newcastle when it was but a tiny little coastal town.

NEWCASTLE MUSEUM
CostFree
When to go• Tuesday to Sunday, 10.00 am – 5.00 pm
• 7 days per week on School Holidays
• Closed Public Holidays
Address6 Workshop Way, Newcastle NSW 2300

Blackbutt Reserve

Koalas

Blackbutt Reserve is a FREE 182-hectare nature reserve just 9km from the Newcastle city centre. At Blackbutt Reserve, you’ll find native animal enclosures, boardwalks, walking trails, playgrounds and picnic areas with BBQs.

What’s at Blackbutt Reserve:

  • 2 LARGE PLAYGROUNDS – set in amongst the bush. Black Duck playground is suitable for kids aged 2 – 10. The 60m Blackbutt Adventure Playground also includes a sandpit, water tap and stone garden.
  • NATIVE ANIMAL EXHIBITS – Koalas, emus, wallabies, kangaroos, wombats, birds, lizards and snakes. Take the boardwalks to explore the native wildlife.
  • KIOSK – Tea, coffee and snacks.
  • 9 WALKING TRAILS – For shorter walks check out the Rainforest Walk, Tall Trees Walk and Forest Way.
  • AMENITIES – Toilets, baby change room & feeding room, drinking water fountains, gas BBQs.

So, pack a picnic lunch and spend the day enjoying all that Blackbutt Reserve has to offer. The only thing you’ll have to pay for is parking!

BLACKBUTT RESERVE
CostFREE
Parking$4/ hour or $13/ day
AddressCarnley Avenue, New Lambton NSW 2305

Fort Scratchley

Fort Scratchley, Newcastle NSW
Fort Scratchley

Fort Scratchley has been watching over Newcastle from Signal Hill since 1882. Visitors are welcome to take a FREE self-guided tour and have a chat to the very knowledgable volunteers that are floating around the Fort.

The traditional gun firing happens at 1.00pm every day (unless the weather is bad), so if that’s something you’d like to see, time your visit to tie in with that.

The gun firing coincides with the dropping of the time ball at Customs House in Bond Street. This used to alert Sea Captains to adjust their navigational instruments.There is the option to do a tunnel tour, which is a paid experience.

Optional Tunnel Tour:

  • Duration 60 minutes
  • Must be booked & pre-paid online
  • Unsuitable for wheelchairs & prams
FORT SCRATCHLEY
CostSelf-guided Tour – FREE

Optional Tunnel Tour:
• Adult – $13.50
• Child (4 – 14 yrs) – $7.50
• Concession – $9.00
• Family (2A + 2C) – $35.00
When to goOpen every day except Tuesday, 10.00 am – 4.00 pm
Closed on major Public Holidays
AddressNobbys Road, Newcastle East NSW 2300

Mereweather Ocean Baths

Mereweather Ocean Baths, Newcastle NSW
Mereweather Ocean Baths, Mereweather NSW

The Mereweather Baths represent one of the largest seawater baths (with diving blocks) of its kind in the state. The clean symmetrical lines inspire photographers from far and wide for its aesthetic beauty.

Mereweather Ocean Baths, Newcastle NSW
Mereweather Ocean Baths

Here you’ll find two separate pools, which are patrolled from September through to April. The one closest to shore is the Children’s Pool with a gradual depth of 1.2m and a shallow, sandy beach. Behind this and closer to the seaside is the Adult’s Pool or ‘Main Pool,’ which is around 2m deep.

MEREWEATHER OCEAN BATHS
CostFree
When to goAnytime as long as they’re not closed for cleaning
Address5 Henderson Parade, Mereweather NSW 2291

Newcastle Harbour

Newcastle Harbour, Newcastle NSW
Newcastle Harbour, Newcastle NSW

One of the main things that we were all excited about for our Newcastle visit was to see the huge ships coming into the harbour.

It was really interesting (and educational) to watch how the tugboats work hard to guide the ships in and out. You could sit there all day spotting ships out on the horizon, waiting for their turn to come in, while the tugs continuously ziped in and out.

The Newcastle Harbour is without a doubt a highly organised system, which we all were fascinated to watch.

Even more exciting than watching the Container Ships would be to see a Cruise Liner coming into Port – those things are massive. We checked the Cruise Schedule, but unfortunately, the next one wasn’t coming in until March. Bummer!

Newcastle Harbour, NSW
Ship coming into the harbour with the help of a few tugboats

Where to view ships coming in & out of the harbour:

  • Nobbys Headland and Lighthouse offer prime views of the huge vessels as they enter the mouth of the river.
  • Stockton Beach along the Shipwreck Walk breakwall is another excellent vantage point of ships entering and leaving through the mouth.
  • The pathway along Wharf Road will also give you a great look at the ships going by.
NEWCASTLE HARBOUR
CostFree
When to goAnytime (there are ships coming and going around the clock)
AddressNobbys Headland | Shipwreck Walk | Wharf Road

Visit The Lock-Up

As you can imagine, The Lock-Up is quite literally an old prison block. However this particular lock-up was actually converted into a cultural and art hub in 2007.

The Lock-up was originally built to support the police station, which was in the adjacent court house. The cells were generally used from 1861 to 1982 for short-term confinement (3 – 4 days) for both men and women.

These days you can view the original padded cells, graffiti and toilet facilities, while observing risky artworks and creative thinking projects.

A visit to the Lock-Up is one of the more unusual things to do in Newcastle, NSW. For more information, head to The Lockup.

THE LOCK-UP
CostFREE
When to goOpen Sunday – Wednesday
Address90 Hunter Street, Newcastle NSW 2300

Lake Macquarie

Lake Macquarie, Newcastle NSW
Lake Macquarie

About 40 minutes south of the Newcastle CBD is Lake Macquarie – the largest saltwater lake in the southern hemisphere. In fact it’s twice the size of Sydney Harbour at 110 square kilometres!

Go for a drive along the roads surrounding the lake to have a look at the sheer size of the coastal lake. There are plenty of recreational places around the lake to go for a walk or bike ride, enjoy a picnic lunch or throw a line in. It’s also a very popular spot for boating, kayaking and other water sports.

There are known to be sharks in the lake, as you’d expect with it being connected to the ocean, so swimming is only recommended at the nearby patrolled beaches rather than in the lake itself.

LAKE MACQUARIE
CostFREE
When to goAny time

Newcastle Beaches

Newcastle Beaches, NSW

Now for another of the top free things to do in Newcastle, go and check out some of the local beaches.

Newcastle has a pretty good reputation for having some of the best surfing beaches in the country. In fact we saw a big set up for the international Surfest competition down by one of the beaches while we were exploring town.

Needless to say, swimming and hanging out at the beach is a pretty fun pastime in Newcastle.

Some of the most popular beaches in Newcastle:

  • Mereweather Beach – best in Newcastle
  • Newcastle Beach – for surfing
  • Nobby’s Beach – for families
  • Horseshoe Beach – dog friendly
  • Caves Beach – for exploring
  • Stockton Beach – for 4WDing

Glenrock State Conservation Area

Glenrock State Conservation Area, Newcastle NSW
Glenrock State Conservation Area, Newcastle NSW

Just 5km from Newcastle is the beautiful Glenrock State Conseration Area, filled with mountain biking tracks, rainforest walks, beaches and waterfalls.

There are a handful of protected Aboriginal sites within Glenrock. Some of the animals you might be lucky enough to spot include Humpback Whales (June – November), Fairy Wrens, Bandicoots, Bats and Gliders.

For one of the more adventurous free things to do in Newcastle, pack a hat, sunscreen, food and plenty of water, then head off for a day exploring Glenrock State Conservation Area.

GLENROCK STATE CONSERVATION AREA
CostFREE
Bombala Walking TrackBush track with ocean views. Ends at the secluded Dudley Beach.

Distance: 1km return
Time: 15 – 30 mins
Yuelarbah Walking TrackA day walk with a lookout, waterfalls and picnic spots.

Distance: 6.8km return
Time: 2 – 3 hrs
Leggy Point Loop Walking TrackA loop track with ocean views the whole way. Popular family walk.

Distance: 2km loop
Time: 45 mins – 1 hr
Glenrock Mountain Biking Trails34km of trails to suit all levels (even kids).
AddressYuelarbah Track, Highfields NSW 2289

Whale Watching

Whale Watching

Every year between June and November, 35,000 humpback whales make their annual migration along the Newcastle coastline.

The whales head north from the cool Antarctic waters to give birth to their young in the warmer northern waters, then they head back down the coast again until the following year.

There are many great vantage points around Newcastle to enjoy free whale watching during their migratory seasons.

If you want the up close and personal experience, you can always opt to head out on a whale watching tour with CoastXP or Nova Cruises.

Whale watching from land:

  • Fort Scratchley
  • The Obelisk (near King Edward Park)
  • Newcastle Memorial Walk
  • Mereweather Beach
  • Bar Beach

Newcastle’s BIG Things

BIG Ugg Boots, Thornton NSW
BIG Ugg Boots, Newcastle NSW

A quirky and unusual thing that many Aussies like to do as they travel is ‘collect’ or get selfies with the Big Things spotted around the country. There are 5 to tick off the list around Newcastle.

NEWCASTLE ‘BIG THINGS’
BIG Ugg BootMortels Sheepskin Factory – 1 Weakleys Drive, Thornton NSW 2322
BIG BoomerangMurrook Cultural Centre – 2163 Nelson Bay Road, Williamtown NSW 2318
BIG Egg in a NestNewcastle Art Gallery – 1 Laman Street, Cooks Hill NSW 2300
BIG Headphones98 Darby Street, Cooks Hill NSW 2300
BIG MozzieHexham Bowling Club – 290 Old Maitland Road, Hexham NSW 2322

You can either grab the complete Aussie Big Things Checklist with over 600 items (including street addresses), or download just the NSW one below.

NSW Big Things Checklist

NSW Big Things Checklist

See if you can find all 130+ Big Things as you travel around NSW & ACT!

  • 20-page checklist
  • Pre-filled with 130+ items
  • Categorised into 13 regions
  • NSW & ACT Regional Map
  • Full street addresses
  • Record finds & dates
  • DIGITAL & PRINTABLE
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PAID Unusual Things to Do in Newcastle

Newcastle’s Famous Tram

Newcastle's Famous Tram
Photo: Newcastle’s Famous Tram

The most unique way to explore Newcastle is by jumping aboard Newcastle’s Famous Tram. The wheeled tram was built in 1994 as a genuine replica to the actual Newcastle tram, which used to run in 1923.

Wander through the city, drive by the beaches and learn about many of the historical sites and mansions of the area with full commentary provided.

Included is a stop at the ANZAC Memorial Walk.

NEWCASTLE TRAM
Cost• Adult – $25.00
• Child – $5.00
When to go11am Monday – Friday
Address150 Wharf Road, Newcastle NSW 2300

Take a Walking Tour

Pouring a beer

Another great way to explore Newcastle is to take a walking tour with Newcastle Afoot. With five different public tours available, you can wine, dine, walk and talk your way around town with an expert tour guide.

NEWCASTLE WALKING TOURS
Architecture, Street Art & Hidden SecretsExplore historic architecture, eclectic streets, hidden houses, street art, laneways and cool businesses. Finishes in Cooks Hills where you can have lunch and wander the shops.

Length: 3 km
• Time: 2 hrs
• Cost: $50/ pp
Seascapes to Laneways WalkStroll the streets between the harbour and the sea. See some of Newcastle’s hidden historic sites, architecture, houses and laneways. Fascinating stories from Aboriginal culture, convict and industrial history.

• Length: 2 km
• Time: 2.5 hrs
• Cost: $60/ pp
Newcastle Gin MasterclassVisit three great bars where experienced staff will give you gin tastings with all the background info. Gin tasting, 1 x cocktail, 2 x shared food tasting.

Length: 3 km
• Time: 3 hrs
• Cost: $120/ pp
Eat & Drink Newcastle HistoryDiscovery Newcastle’s boozy history at three of the best and classiest bars. Bar snacks and tapas provided, drink recommendations made along the way for your own purchase.

• Length: 2 km
• Time: 3.5 hrs
• Cost: $95/ pp

Learn to Surf

Learning to Surf

If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to surf, why not give it a crack as one of your things to do in Newcastle?

Newcastle Surf School is said to be the most experienced and longest-running surf school in the region. They run out of three locations all year round for daily lessons – Nobbys Beach, Blacksmiths Beach and Caves Beach.

Lessons go for 90 minutes and include a soft surfboard, wetsuits, sun shirts and plenty of guidance.

Prices start from $40 per person, with a package of four lessons being the recommendation to really kick off your new surfing skills.

For more info, pricing and bookings, head to Newcastle Surf School.


Stockton Beach Sand Dunes

Stockton Beach Sand Dunes, Newcastle NSW
Stockton Beach Sand Dunes

Just one hour from Newcastle you’ll find the largest moving coastal dunes in the Southern Hemisphere! You’ve got 350 hectares of sand dunes to explore in a 4WD, plus you’ve got 22km of beachfront driving along the longest beach in New South Wales.

There are a few companies near the Birubi Point Surf Life Saving Club that offer paid tours for things like sand-boarding and quad biking around the dunes. But if you’ve got your own 4WD you can just purchase a beach driving permit for $33 (3 days access) and have your own adventure.

Things to do at Stockton Beach Sand Dunes:

  • 4WDing
  • Sand-boarding
  • Quad biking
  • Camel rides
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Picnic lunch
Stockton Beach Sand Dunes, Newcastle NSW
Looking out across the backdrop of sand dunes

Unfortunately this was one landscape that we couldn’t explore. Much of the New South Wales coast had been experiencing severe weather and swells during our visit. Most of Stockton Beach had in fact been washed away, resulting in all accessed being closed until further notice. We will be back for this one!

STOCKTON BEACH SAND DUNES
Cost$33 (3-day beach driving permit)
When to goAnytime
AddressGan Gan Road, Anna Bay NSW 2316

Hunter Valley Wine Tasting

Wine Tasting

The gorgeous Hunter Valley is famously known for its wine. The drive from Newcastle will take you just shy of two hours, which makes it a nice, scenic day trip from the city.

You can head on out and take yourself on a wine tasting tour, or you can opt to jump aboard an organised tasting tour, meaning you can taste as much as you like without the hassle of having to drive home.

There is said to be 150 wineries spotted around Australia’s oldest wine region!

HUNTER VALLEY WINE TOURS FROM NEWCASTLE
Dave’s Tours– Air conditioned bus
– Visit 3 wineries and 1 distillery
– Guided tours
– Single course lunch
– Complementary chocolates and local cheeses

Length: 8.5 hrs | 9.00 am – 5.00 pm
Cost: $225/ pp

Dave’s Tours →
Cheers Bus– Pick you up from your accommodation
– Visit 4 to 5 cellar doors and vodka distillery
– Wine, cheese and chocolate tasting
– Extensive tour guide

Length: 10 – 11 hrs | Pick-ups commence from 9.00 am
Cost: $110 (not including Newcastle transfer)

Cheers Bus →

TreeTops Adventure

Tree Top Advenutre
A tree top adventure

Explore the Aussie bush in a totally unique way by climbing, weaving and flying through the gum tree canopy. Take yourself through a self-guided obstacle course of rope ladders, bridges, tunnels and nets.

Above is the info for the Tree Top courses, but for those interested in zip-lining through the bush, they also have that available. Check out the TreeTops website.

TREETOPS ADVENTURE
Tree Ropes Course– 3+ years
– 2.5 hour session (including gearing up)

Cost: From $32
Kid Zip– Ages 8 – 10 years
– Instructor supervised
– 2.5 hour session (including gearing up)

Cost: From $60
AddressBlue Gum Hills, Treetops Road, Minmi NSW 2287
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15 thoughts on “⚓️ 26 Unusual & FREE Things to Do in Newcastle, NSW”

  1. Free is always my favorite price haha. And this looks like such a lovely area full of free activities!! Caves Beach looks gorgeous – I’d love to explore all those hidden areas. And I’m a history buff, so Fort Scratchley would be a must for me too!

    1. Haha ‘Free’ is my favourite price as well! Newcastle is definitely on point with the free and low cost tourist activities. You’d like Fort Scratchley – and the best bit is it’s free.

  2. Wow a beach lined with caves, so great that you can experience both. Must be exciting to explore but better be safe during high tides. Thanks for the caution. The lighthouse tour too seems exciting.

    1. It’s not that often that you can explore beach-lined caves as it’s not always safe to do so. But, this was a great place to be able to check out.

  3. I love when people share ways to save money when travelling. Nature spots are always a great spot to visit. I am even ok with paying a small entrance fee. It looks like there are great spots around Newcastle. We would definitely want to try the water at the Ocean or Mereweather Baths. We might walk to see the shipwrecks. But might also consider scuba diving on the wrecks if that was available. Water views are our favourite. And it seems like there are no end of those in Newcastle. Sounds like our kind of place.

    1. I reckon it does sound like your kind of place if you love the water. There are loads of things to do. Although we didn’t look into any scuba diving, it makes me wonder if there are any experiences like that available in Newcastle.

      1. You can scuba dive at Swansea. Right beside Swansea Bridge there is a Scuba shop that sells and hires gear and gives scuba lessons if needed. The diving under the bridge and in the Swansea Channel is excellent all year round.

  4. What a great list, with lots of options to get out in nature. I have never been to Newcastle but if we are ever there I will definitely want to do a bunch of these. Stockton Beach Sand Dunes looks especially fun.

  5. What a great list of free things to do in Newcastle. Everything looks so adventurous and nature-focused which is great for this area. I think The Bogey Hole looks so stunning and like a place, I would love to spend some time.

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