Newcastle Off The Beaten Path

  • Beach at Glenrock
    Beach at Glenrock
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  • 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.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Historical Travel

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    Glenrock Lagoon

    by iandsmith Written Sep 12, 2003

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    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.

    On a clear day
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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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    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.

    The lovely gardens below the restaurant.
    Related to:
    • 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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    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.

    Autumnal tones
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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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    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.

    On a hillside
    Related to:
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    • Historical Travel

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    Catherine Hill Bay

    by iandsmith Updated Aug 10, 2004

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    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.

    ...a very surfable beach....
    Related to:
    • Surfing
    • Windsurfing
    • Historical Travel

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    Watagan Mountains

    by iandsmith Updated Aug 21, 2011

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    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.

    Some of the destinations Fig roots Moss covered log
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    • Road Trip
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Barrington

    by iandsmith Written Oct 24, 2004

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    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.

    ...sound of rushing water....
    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • National/State Park
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons

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    Kooragang Island

    by iandsmith Written Jun 11, 2004

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    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.

    Winter colours of the pond.
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    • Birdwatching
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Road Trip

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    Singleton

    by iandsmith Written Aug 13, 2004

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    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.

    Pretty face on a mining town
    Related to:
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    Sign of the times

    by iandsmith Written Aug 27, 2004

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    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.

    Nelson would have loved it
    Related to:
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    • Arts and Culture
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    Hunter Valley

    by iandsmith Updated Aug 26, 2003

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    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!

    A truly golden way
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    • Family Travel

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    Lake Macquarie

    by iandsmith Updated May 14, 2003

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    For some reason, Lake Macquarie never became a major tourist destination. Australia's largest salt water or seaboard lake, it lies just south of Newcastle City and is, for all intents and purposes, a part of that city, even though it does have its own status as an independent city.
    Water sports abound here, particularly sailing as it is an ideal spot.
    There are many parks around the foreshore but accommodation is limited.
    The main shopping areas are Toronto, Belmont and Charlestown, though places like Warners Bay and Morisset certainly have their share.
    Toronto also has a speedboat facility and water skiing, windsurfing and aqua-jetting are fairly common in some areas around the lake as well.
    It's well worth looking into all the little nooks and crannies around the foreshore as there are many lovely viewpoints and picnic spots.
    The lake is three and a half times the size of Sydney Harbour and you can see pretty sunsets over the water from the eastern shoreline.

    Prize winning shot of sunset On reflection Looking towards Speers Point Afterglow View to Eleebana
    Related to:
    • Photography
    • Family Travel
    • Sailing and Boating

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    Morpeth

    by iandsmith Updated Sep 21, 2003

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    An afternoon to spare could well be spent at Morpeth, a heritage listed little town where, once upon a time, ships used to go. This was a central port for the Hunter Valley when roads were nondescript and water was the highway of choice. The old bond warehouses still remain though they're now tarted up as boutiques, restaurants and arty shops.
    My favourite pastime is to have a devonshire tea overlooking the river. If you get lucky (my viewpoint) you might get cheeky blue wrens sharing your fare.
    The variety of tourist-oriented shops is enough to while away a couple of hours for even the most jaded shopper.
    They often have little festivals up there as well, one of the most popular being the Jazz Festivals in autumn and spring.

    Lovely federation style balcony and dormer windows
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    • Arts and Culture
    • Architecture

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    Do take time to have a look at...

    by iandsmith Updated Oct 30, 2006

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    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.

    Civic fountain
    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Adventure Travel
    • Family Travel

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