A decade ago, the working class city of Newcastle had become seen as a byword for post-industrial decline. But, as we wandered around its roasting hot streets on a quiet Saturday afternoon, there was a youthful, almost hippy vibe to the place. The young people walking around barefoot in their swimming costumes down the main street, showed us that, these days, this place is all about the beach, rather than factories.
In fact, the city of Newcastle makes a big effort to welcome visitors – as we sailed into the Hunter River towards our berth, we were greeted by an impressive three-gun salute from Fort Scratchley, the historic fort that guards the town. Then, we were assailed by a big team of friendly local volunteers giving us more maps and information than we knew what to do with.
Once in town, we enjoyed a really laid-back vibe – the shops weren't particularly busy, because everyone seemed to be out in the lively bars and restaurants along the Hunter River, or down at the beach. So, we decided to join them by doing a walk along the Bathers Way, a coastal path that leads along the breakwaters, and past the beautiful golden sands of Nobby's Beach and Newcastle Beach, busy with sunworshippers, swimmers and surfers. The Novacastrians are really blessed to have such a beautiful beach, right on their doorstep.
If you're after must-see sights, or world class museums and culture, then maybe Newcastle's not for you. But, if you want to relax in an alfresco restaurant, or have a day at the beach, then a sunny day in Newcastle is pretty good.