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Newcastle Australia is well known for its beautiful beaches, ocean baths and surrounding national parks, in addition to its reputation for having some of Australia’s best surf. Located 160 km North of Sydney, Newcastle makes for a great weekend escape, particularly for the nature lovers. These are the best free things to do in Newcastle NSW.
Newcastle Ocean Baths and Beach
Newcastle Beach and the adjoining Ocean Baths are the most popular because they are easily accessible from Newcastle and have facilities such as volleyball courts, cafes and restaurants, shaded table areas and change room facilities. Enjoy a morning relaxing and swimming in the ocean baths before taking a walk to King Edward Park.
Kind Edward Park
King Edward Park is a recreation park, located within Newcastle City. It offers spectacular views of
The bogey hole
The bogey hole is the most popular ocean bath among locals, as it is smaller and less crowded. On a day with big surf, the waves will break right into it.
The Bogey hole is a pool that was originally cut into the cliff rocks by convicts in 1819, for the personal use of Lieutenant-Colonel James Thomas Morisset, who was Commandant of Newcastle at the time. It has since been refurbished.
Merewether Ocean Baths
The Merewether ocean baths are a great place the spend a day in Newcastle. They are in a picture perfect location and are close to cafes, restaurants and parking. From the Merewether ocean baths, you can easily access the Newcastle Coastal walking path if you want to go for a walk in between swims.
Newcastle Coastal Walk
There is an amazing coastal trail in Newcastle that follows the entire coastline, all the way from Nobbys Headland, past Merewether beach to Glenrock conservation area and beyond. You can start and end the trail in many different places. For more information, see the Walking Tracks and Trails Guide. Enjoying the walking trails is one of the most popular free things to do in Newcastle.
Glenrock Conservation Area
A short car ride away from Newcastle (5kms East of Charlestown) is Glenrock Conservation Area, home to 500 hectares of natural coastline, headlands and wildlife. You can choose from several trails all ranging in distance. We walked from the car park down towards Burwood Beach passing a flowing creek, waterfalls, a lookout (below) and the picturesque Glenrock Lagoon.
If you follow the lagoon you end up on Burwood Beach. From the beach you can explore the lavish headland. There are many other hiking trail options, including a long hike that takes you all the way back to Newcastle through the forest. Glenrock Conservation Area offers a surprisingly unspoilt beach setting, unique when compared to the surrounding urban area.
Glenrock Conservation Area is also a popular spot for mountain bike riding with two bike trails winding through the open forest and woodlands.
Nobbys Headland and Lighthouse
Nobbys Head Lighthouse is located at the entrance to Newcastle Harbour. The lighthouse is a premier tourist attraction, loved by locals and visitors alike. Take a walk up to the lighthouse and enjoy the spectacular 360-degree views of Newcastle, Nobbys Beach and the Harbour.
Blackbutt reserve occupies over 183 hectares of land and provides visitors with the chance to enjoy nature trails, wildlife exhibits, children’s playgrounds and recreational facilities. At Blackbutt Reserve, you can see Koala’s, wombats, birds and Australian reptiles… all for free. Blackbutt is a great place to spend a day hiking, taking photos, admiring wildlife and enjoying a picnic amongst the wonders of nature. There is a small fee for parking.
The Anzac Memorial Walkway is an elevated platform along the coastal cliffs of Newcastle connecting the Bar Beach carpark and Strzelecki lookout. The walkway gives 360-degree views over the Pacific Ocean, city and Hunter Valley
The walk was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli in 1915 and the commencement of steel making in Newcastle.
This is one part of Newcastles Coastal Walk, in between the Merewether Ocean Baths to Nobbys Beach.
If you’re a history buff then you must visit Fort Scratchley. The Fort is perhaps the most historically important site within Newcastle, as it was our first line of defence during the World Wars. It is the only place in Australia to have fired heavy guns at hostile vessels, for coastal defence. Today, it is a museum and memorial with tours running 6 days a week.
General admission to Fort Scratchley is free or you can choose to take a guided to tour to learn more about the history.
Not only is it great for history, it also offers panoramic views of the coast, from Nobbys beach to the Newcastle Harbour, making it a popular spot in Newcastle for photographers. It is also a great place for whale watching as they migrate up and down the coast during the winter months.
Visit the local markets
Newcastle is home to arts, crafts and farmers markets – all free to visit. These generally run on weekends.
Day trip to the Hunter Valley
From Newcastle, it’s a beautiful drive out to the Hunter Valley. You can enjoy wine tasting in the Hunter Valley, and stop in at Sugar Loaf Mountain lookout to admire the views across Newcastle to the sea.
So there you have it, the best free things to do in Newcastle. I would love to hear from you, what is one of your favourite things to do in Newcastle? Comment below.
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Disclosure: This post on free things to do in Newcastle NSW contains affiliate links.