An enjoyable way to experience the beauty of the coast north of Sydney is on a bus tour to Newcastle, the second-largest city in NSW. The journey, via the Central Coast, takes a few hours taking in beaches and other top attractions. This includes Merewether Beach which is one of Australia’s National Surfing Reserves and home to the international Surfest surfing competition and festival.
The city also offers heritage tours including Fort Scratchley Historic Site which has spectacular views of the harbour and the vast Pacific Ocean. During whale-watching season, Nova Cruises will show you where humpbacks play in the sparkling blue waters. Other things to do in this vibrant city include the Bathers Way, a spectacular coastal walk and visits to Newcastle Museum and Newcastle Art Gallery
Experience the exhilaration of a hot air balloon flight at sunrise. The 1-hour ride into the sky takes you over the Hunter Valley, a wine-producing region north of Sydney. Upon landing, you’re treated to breakfast à la carte and a glass of sparkling wine at a local winery, Peterson House.
See humpback whales in their natural habitat on this whale-spotting cruise from Newcastle. Board an eco-tourism boat and hit the open waters to observe humpbacks in the wild, learning about their natural behaviours via the commentary as the boat maintains a respectful distance. Plus, watch for dolphins and seals and admire the coastal scenery as you hear details on local landmarks, culture, and history.
You’ll find many kid-friendly cafes and restaurants and if you’re planning a weekend escape there are accommodation options to suit a range of budgets. You can also travel by train from Newcastle to Maitland in under an hour for a fascinating tour of the historic Maitland Gaol.