Newcastle Off The Beaten Path

  • Beach at Glenrock
    Beach at Glenrock
    by iandsmith
  • Yellow Thornbill
    Yellow Thornbill
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  • Superb wrens are also common
    Superb wrens are also common
    by iandsmith

Best Rated Off The Beaten Path in Newcastle

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    Heritage

    by Linda_T Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Visit Morpeth - In the heart of Hunter River Country, just a few kilometres from Maitland is the historic village of Morpeth. Classified by the National Trust, Morpeth was established in 1821 on the banks of the Hunter River. It was once a thriving river port for ships taking goods around Australia and the world. Visitors can meander through the village with a self-guided heritage walk brochure and look at the beautiful sandstone buildings and pathways.

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    • Historical Travel

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    Glenrock Lagoon

    by iandsmith Written Sep 12, 2003

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    On a clear day

    Less than 10kms from the city centre you can be in the middle of near pristine wilderness. That's one of the great things about Newcastle, you don't have to go far to get away from the city stress and we don't have much of that anyway.
    To get to this location you head out east from Charlestown and you will get to a carpark where you can leave your vehicle and take a nice bushwalk or you can travel a little futher on and take the dirt road, called Scouts Camp (because there is one at the end) Road then park your car at Leggy Point car park and walk down to the beach.
    This is about a 1 1/2 km walk and, half way down you will get the view you see here, taken on a winter's day. In 2003 a Southern Right whale calved here and hung around for over 2 months while her baby bulked up. It was significant because it's the first time this species has been sighted this far north since whaling commenced. Naturally enough, the day I went to see mother and calf they had moved around to the next beach! Still, I had seen them a month earlier at Bar Beach.
    Newcastle CIty is just around the furthest headland shown here and the scouts camp is just to the left out of vision on the banks of the lagoon.

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    • Beaches
    • Hiking and Walking
    • National/State Park

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    Rosemount wines

    by iandsmith Written Sep 13, 2004

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    The lovely gardens below the restaurant.

    Rosemount Estate is a famous name in wines in the Hunter Valley. From a small beginning it grew.
    And grew and grew until it was taken over.
    Starting off bottling a few hundred thousand, they were talking of 15,000,000 per annum.
    Sadly, as ever in these situations, the mega group that bought them out decided to close the whole operation.
    C'est tragique!
    The nearby town of Denman, where most of the workers lived, is devastated.
    The touristy part is still open and there's a nice restaurant and you can still buy wine there but, the gloom of the bottling plant closure hovers as a dark cloud.

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    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
    • Road Trip
    • Wine Tasting

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    Where the river flows backwards

    by iandsmith Written Jun 11, 2004

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    Autumnal tones

    I was trying to think of an excuse to include this photo, since I rather fancy it, but it took me a while.
    This shot was taken at Hexham, a suburb on the Pacific Highway about 10kms inland. This area is part of the delta and the mangroves you see are actually part of an island.
    On the incoming tide the river flows upstream. Thus it was that when I went to Europe it was strange to me to see rivers that constantly had a strong flow towards the ocean, what most would consider normal.
    The mangroves here form an important part of the food chain as this is where prawns and other small creatures come to spawn, using the root systems for protection.

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    • Eco-Tourism
    • Road Trip
    • Fishing

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    A standout attraction

    by iandsmith Written Aug 15, 2004

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    On a hillside

    A few kilometres before Singleton, on your left on a hilltop, is the splendid sight of Baroona (formerly Rosemont) on land granted to James Mudie in 1823. Rosemount was built in 1829 by John Lanarch, his overseer and, later, his son-in-law and business partner. Mudie's own property, situated on the opposite side of the present highway, was known as Castle Forbes but Baroona is the standout today.
    Mudie's story is quite interesting. Appointed a magistrate in 1830, he quickly developed a reputation for excessive use of corporal punishment. When Governor Bourke decided to limit the capacity of magistrates to inflict summary punishments Mudie helped organize a petition against him for what he considered an extravagant leniency.
    Five of Mudie's convicts were executed after they mutinied, tried to shoot Lanarch and fled. An investigation into charges that Mudie and Lanarch degraded their servants may have cleared them of ill treatment, but found them wanting in relation to the issuance of rations. Angered by the report, Mudie came under fire and counter-attacked by subverting Bourke's appointment of one of Mudie's critics. This seems to have been influential in Bourke's resignation of his governorship.

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    Catherine Hill Bay

    by iandsmith Updated Aug 10, 2004

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    ...a very surfable beach....

    Catho, as it is known locally, is a bit of an oddity in terms of historical towns. The standard weatherboard miners cottage multiplied many times lines the single street that runs through this town. Now the whole thing has a heritage order placed on it. It's almost bizarre to think that this village is going to remain the same.
    The reason for the town's being was coal and you can still find a coal mine operating there today though the ship that used to pick it up from the famous wharf no longer arrives at the disused facility. That stopped a couple of years ago. Trucks are used today.
    Catho has a very surfable beach, popular with board riders and, just over the back there's Moonee Beach, another great surfing venue but harder to get to as it involves a walk through a bush track.
    All of this is just south of the Swansea-Caves Beach area.
    In this pick you can see fellow VT-er from Canada, Sarah, enjoying the view.

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    • Windsurfing
    • Surfing
    • Historical Travel

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    Kooragang Island

    by iandsmith Written Jun 11, 2004

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    Winter colours of the pond.

    This is one of the islands of the Hunter River Delta though these days you'd almost be unaware as bridges connect it at both ends.
    One thing on the island you can't escape (though I managed to in this picture) is the coal loader.
    Port Waratah Coal Services are one of the reasons Newcastle is the world's largest exporter of coal, around 80,000,000 tonnes at last count and they're trying to do more.
    Another thing that happens on Kooragang is cycle racing, something I happen to participate in. Every Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning races are held at the eastern end of the island and, in summer, you can race Friday evening as well.
    Yet another activity, though less publicized, is bird watching. The island is a key place for many migrating birds and steps have had to be taken in recent years to preserve the bits that have been left untouched by industry.
    This particular pond is just over the Tourle Street Bridge and, depending on what time of year you are viewing, you may see nesting swans or any of a number of waders.

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    • Eco-Tourism
    • Road Trip
    • Birdwatching

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    Watagan Mountains

    by iandsmith Updated Aug 21, 2011

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    Some of the destinations
    2 more images

    Looking for jagged snow capped peaks? You won't find them here!
    What you get is dry sclerophyll forest atop sandstone ridges, lots of good places to picnic and walk in the Aussie bush.
    There are several roads through the area, mostly dirt and more spots than I can list here to have a picnic or check out the lovely views, particularly over Lake Macquarie, Australia's largest salt water lake.
    The area is located south of Newcastle, allow about half an hour to get to the base of the hills before you start climbing and then it depends on how far you want to go.
    This area gets two thirds of the rainfall that the northern side of the Hunter Valley gets so there is no plethora of rainforest and waterfalls here but certain parts definitely have lots of moss and vines with gurgling streams passing through.

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    Barrington

    by iandsmith Written Oct 24, 2004

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    ...sound of rushing water....

    Mention the word "Barrington" and it will elicit different responses from different people.
    Many will know it as Barrington Tops, a plateau rising to just over 5,000 feet where it snows occasionally in winter and has a dirt road traversing east to west from Gloucester to Scone.
    Others will know it as Barrington Guest House, a famous old rambling place with verandahs, that you had to book weeks ahead to get into, but these days has had cabins added and presents much more accommodation. Like hand feeding crimson rosellas for instance.
    This complex is situated at the base of the mountain, deep in the rainforest, not far from a stream. The watercourse has walks either side with a suspension bridge at one end.
    It is a delightful stroll amongst forest giants, always with the sound of rushing water nearby and bird noises emanating from who knows where.
    If you're seeking a weekend away from it all, it doesn't get much better than this.
    To get there you need to go through Dungog which is about an hour north west of Newcastle. It's then about another 20 minutes to the guest house.

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    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons

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    Singleton

    by iandsmith Written Aug 13, 2004

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    Pretty face on a mining town

    This town's reason for being these days is coal. Though originally surviving and prospering on a rural-based economy, it's raison d'etre these days is definitely coloured black.
    Massive opencuts and modern underground mines are all around the town and the wealth that they spawn is in evidence on the new estates surrounding the town.
    It always seemed a poor cousin to Maitland and Muswellbrook, the towns that flank it east and west, but these days it outshines the both of them.
    Its rural heritage is still visible in places but the brash new image is the one most obvious.
    All standard facilities are here in the way of accommodation, shopping etc., that you would expect in a town of 15,000 plus and its one claim to international fame is the biggest sundial in the world.
    Shown here is a pretty street at the back of the showground with the springtime blooms of the jacaranda on display.

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    Sign of the times

    by iandsmith Written Aug 27, 2004

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    Nelson would have loved it

    I always glance up at this advertisement. It's around 50 years old, probably heritage listed. I hope so anyway.
    The brand hasn't existed for about 40 years but the picture lives on, a reminder of the fickle nature of the retail industry.
    It's situated at the corner of Stewart Avenue and Hunter Street on a building that used to belong to S&W Miller, whose sign is also partly visible though it is also many years since Bill Miller last sold a fridge.

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    • Arts and Culture
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    Do take time to have a look at...

    by iandsmith Updated Oct 30, 2006

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    Civic fountain

    Do take time to have a look at our fountain. It is unique and, if you're there in spring or summer, the flowers add to its ambience.
    The design has always been a favourite of mine. I vividly recall my time as an apprentice fitter and turner and the tradesmen were lamenting the cost ($30,000 at the time) of it all and how the money could have been better spent on other things. I was a lone dissenting voice. I'd like to think time has vindicated my position.
    It's just been renovated, as it turns out at a far greater cost than it originally was to install it!
    Located in Civic Park, a central relaxation area that divides the administrative centre of Newcastle from the art centre.
    Across the road is the lovely sandstone town hall and up the back is the Art Gallery and city library. Above the library is the Lovett Gallery. Sometimes this is well worth a look, depending on what exhibition is featured. It is only one room but there is often some wonderful stuff in there, particularly photographic exhibitions.
    The two storey Newcastle City Art Gallery is good for half an hour if you're into art. It's slowly building up a quality collection that vies with travelling exhibitions for the limited space.

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    • Adventure Travel
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    Maritime Museum

    by iandsmith Updated Jun 23, 2009

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    HMS Nottingham on the left
    1 more image

    Newcastle's Maritime Museum is a hotch potch of all types of things nautical. Due to it being an active port, Newcastle has had lots of incidents and lots of wrecks, most of which are well documented and nowhere better than here.
    The most recent notable event was in 2007 when storm force winds lashed the coast and a massive bulk ore carrier, the Pasha Bulker, ended up on Nobbys Beach. After about 3 weeks it was refloated and now travels under a different name. It was through a prolonged effort by a tug that another carrier was saved before ending up on Merewether Beach and a further ship nearly ended up near a previous wreck, see the following.
    In 1974, a 54,000 ton tanker, the Sygna, didn't heed the warnings sufficiently and was washed up on Stockton Beach, the crew being dramatically plucked from the decks by choppers from the nearby RAAF base. Subsequently it was attempted to refloat the vessel for scrapping purposes but they only got half of it off when it snapped in two, the rear section staying firmly wedged forever in the sand where it still visibly sits today.
    Several years ago we had HMS Nottingham towed in after all but sinking at Lord Howe Island after striking a reef. It actually had to be brought in backwards, so bad was the damage to the bow.
    Since Newcastle is the world's biggest port in terms of tonnage (expected over 100,000,000 tonnes of coal alone this year), it is only fitting that some of its history is preserved.

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    • Family Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • Beaches

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    Take time to smell the roses

    by iandsmith Updated Aug 2, 2004

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    Entrance to the gardens

    Actually, this is not quite true. The Hunter Region Botanical Gardens do not feature roses but certainly have enough natives and exotic plants to satisfy the curious traveller and avid gardener alike. They are open 9-4 daily, seven days a week and mainly staffed by volunteers, many of them still those that started the whole project in 1986. They were a long time coming but have been well laid out on 140 hectares and one of its features is that it boasts Australia's largest collection of Cacti and succulents.
    Should you require light refreshments, they have those available as well.
    Located 20 kilometres from the city just near Raymond Terrace. A word of caution, if you visit them a week or two after rain in summer, do bring some insect repellant for the mozzies although the canteen has some just in case.
    If you want to wander all the trails leisurely I would allow 2-3 hours and you may get misplaced a few times trying to follow their maps but it's such a relaxing way to spend half a day you won't care! I'm sure most of the other 100,000 plus visitors annually would agree with me.

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    • Hiking and Walking
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
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    Hunter Valley

    by iandsmith Updated Aug 26, 2003

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    A truly golden way

    Many people who spend a little time in Newcastle like to head off into the valley for a day trip. I can recommend that activity. If you want any suggested itineraries just drop me a line and I'll make some suggestions.
    This is one way that could be included in such a trip. It is the Golden Way and it ends up at Dubbo if you followed it all the way. However, this part is near Jerrys Plains.
    The Hunter Valley is noted for its vineyards which can be found throughout the valley though most are located on the southern side and the ones where 2 million tourists go annually are situated around the Pokolbin area, along with five golf courses and the fabulous Hunter Valley Gardens.
    There are also coal mines. Lots of coal mines that supply over 70,000,000 tonnes annually to the world.
    You can also find rich dairy country and world famous horse studs flanked on one side by Barrington Tops and the other by the Watagan Mountains. So much to see.....so little time!

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