Newcastle, NSW, Australia

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Newcastle, two hours by car north of Sydney, is one of Australia's hidden beauty spots. Originally a "Steel City" permanently shrouded by the output of a noxious Steelworks, the fumes are gone and what is left is a great place to live, work, play and even (gasp!) visit.

Newcastle is accessible up the F3 freeway from Sydney, by a beautiful 2 1/2 hour train trip from Sydney and has bus and train links north to Brisbane and the Gold Coast, coach trips to the Hunter Valley wineries and bus links to beautiful Port Stephens.

Newcastle is a harbour and beach city. There are lots of beaut beaches to swim or surf at. Toddlers are well catered for with baths (enclosed swimming areas with no surf) near Newcastle Beach and at Merewether Beach. Susan Gilmore Beach is known for nude bathing. Bar Beach provides challenging body-surfing. Horseshoe Bay is where the locals take their dogs to play.

The Harbour is a working port and there is constant movement of ships in and out. A walk up Nobby's to the Lighthouse and beyond to the Harbour mouth is a pleasant way to work up an appetite for the many and varied culinary delights that await you Harbourside. The Custom's House Cafe, Blue Water Pizza and Queen's Wharf Brewery all have wonderful, wonderul food. The Brewery has the additional advantage of in-house beers as well as all the local favourites. It's a great way to spend a sunny afternoon with friends.

More great food can be found in Darby Street, Cook's Hill (Thai, Italian, Malaysian, Modern Australian Cafe cuisine etc); Beaumont Street, Hamilton (Italian, Mexican, Cafe, Pub Food, Turkish etc) and at The Junction (Italian, cafe and Muchos de Mexican). There are a huge number of Pubs to choose from including the Delaney (Cooks'Hill),the Kent (Beaumont St, Hamilton) and Beaches (overlooking Merewether Beach).

Shopping is easy. Central in Newcastle West are the supermarkets Franklins (at The Store) and Bi-Lo (at Marketown). Charlestown, Kotara, Jesmond and Glendale all have large shopping centres that include discount department stores, supermarkets and specialty shops.
Special Newcastle things to buy? None really - all the best things in Newcastle are free!

Newcastle is a sporting city - we love our sport. In summer we are usually all down at the beach. In winter our local rugby league team - the Knights - has a huge following and this is one of the best places to see a truly Australian local crowd cheering their own side on! We are due to host the Australian Masters' Games in 2002 and things are being geared up accordingly. Recent building of new facilities for visiting OS Olympic Teams to train at has meant that we now have world-class facilities in many areas of sport.

Local accomodation ranges from basic backpackers to 4+ star accomodation...many located on or near the beach. Cheaper motels for those with cars are situated mainly along the Maitland Road as it leads into Newcastle and along the Pacific Highway towards Charlestown.

Internet access is available through some of the hostels, but also at various internet cafe's along Hunter Street towards Newcastle West.

Local Hospitals include Belmont, the Mater and John Hunter Hospital. All offer 24 hour emergency treatment. The John Hunter has a Children's Hospital within it. Belmont and John Hunter both provide obstetric services.

Another good point about Newcastle - at holiday periods locals, not realising how lucky they are, go elsewhere!!! Hence you have space on the beaches, can get a seat at cafes and don't have to fight a million people for a parking space within visual distance of the beach!!! A very pleasant surprise for people who visit!

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