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Newcastle - Cities, Towns and Localities

Nobbys Beach, Newcastle - courtesy Tourism New South Wales

New South Wales second largest city and today a thriving metropolis with a robust arts community producing some of Australia's finest musicians, artists and performers. A city founded on the hard labour of convicts has grown to house a population in excess of 250,000 people.

Only 156 km north of Sydney this fine Victorian city with its many historical buildings sits abreast of the Hunter River (Maiyarn). There are many beaches nearby, lookouts, and national parks. The original inhabitants of the area are the Awabakal and Worimi tribes, one of their main camps was located where Newcastle now stands.

Discovered by a Lt Shortland in 1797 whilst chasing convicts, the area became known as Coal River due to the abundance of the coal on the river banks. In 1801 a convict camp was setup to cut the local cedar and to mine the abundant coal deposits.

Customs House Newcastle - courtesy Tourism New South Wales

The penal colony rapidly gained a hellish reputation with murder and floggings common amongst the prisoners. The colony from 1814 became NSW major penal settlement with over 1000 convicts housed there. The penal settlement lasted for 20 years before it was moved to Port Macquarie to make room for settlers and to keep the undesirables out of the way.

Railways arrived not long after and the town rapidly developed becoming a major coal producing region, railway terminus and shipping port for the entire Hunter region named after NSW Governor Hunter.

In 1915 BHP (The Big Australian) opened a steel smelter in the city. Associated industries soon sprung up and the city became know as the Steel City as its employment base was dependant on the company for its lifeblood. In 1997 BHP started to shut down its businesses in the city due to more efficient steel production facilities elsewhere. Although steel has gone from this wonderful city the area has turned to the arts, tourism and other industries to provide the lifeblood to this city.

Suburbs of interest include the following Stockton, Carrington, Cardiff, Swansea, Charlestown, Minmi, New Lambton, Wallsend, Hamilton, Adamstown, Abermain, Gateshead, Merewether and Waratah. Some of these villages were named after coal producing areas in Scotland, Wales and Northern England.

Check out our listing of Newcastle accommodation. In addition to our listed online travel guide information, contact the local tourism visitor centre for your destination for more attractions, tours, local maps and other information.

Information Centre

Newcastle Visitor Information Centre
3 Honeysuckle Drive
Ph: 02 4974 2999
Freecall: 1800 654 558
Fax: 02 4929 5948



Open — May to October
Mon to Sat 9 am - 12 pm
1 pm - 4 pm
Closed Good Friday and Christmas Day
Hours may vary, contact visitor centre

Newcastle Visitor & Convention Bureau
Ph: 02 4974 2998 / 02 4974 2853

Maitland Visitor Information Centre

Port Stephens Visitor Information Centre - Nelson Bay

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Newcastle Distance

Distance to Newcastle
• Following are some approximate distances by road to Newcastle:
Bulahdelah 96
Cessnock 52
Dungog 76
The Entrance 63
Maitland 33
Muswellbrook 127
Nelson Bay 60
Singleton 79
Sydney 159
Taree 169
Distances given are only approximation, they should be verified with the appropriate maps.
The Australian Automotive Motoring Associations also offer select access to travel trip planners.
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