Still in progress….
Newcastle is far from a car-free paradise. In fact, it’s the only city I know that has introduced cars into its pedestrian mall and cut a railway that went to the centre, all in the name of revitalisation. However, my family lives without a car, and its our home, and there is a lot to do and see if you know where to look. Whether you want to ride a bike, walk or use public transport, it is possible and can be fun if you know how its done.
MODES – Choosing and using your transport
While you can usually pay for the bus, ferry and train by cash, these days it’s best to get an opal card and enjoy slightly cheaper fares and a capped $2.70 travel day on Sundays.
In the centre of Newcastle you can buy an opal card (with minimum top up value of $10) at the Mall Newsagency (in the Mall), Darby Street Pharmacy and Civic Grocer (on Hunter St). Woolworths (Steel St) and Nextra Marketown also sell them. Note you cannot buy Opal cards at the Newcastle Interchange or the ferry terminal but you can “top up” (put more value on your card). More details on Opal cards
Newcastle has a fare free central area for buses which is great for visiting the central attractions and shops. The ferry to Stockton is reasonably priced and is a nice short ride.
You can take your bike on the train and on the ferry. Generally buses won’t let you take a bicycle, but most (not all) buses are accessible for wheelchairs and prams.
Much of Newcastle is flat and, while it sometimes seems a bit disjointed, there are some world class bike paths and cycling can be a great way to get around. You will need to access a helmet if you don’t want to break Australia’s strict rules for cyclists. There are great places for mountain biking, there are BMX parks and there are some challenging hills for road bikes.
Newcastle bike map will help you get around. More info on cool places to take your bike can be found here … under construction.
Newcastle has two docked bike systems (you need a credit card to access them):
- Docked electric bikes – Bykko is a new system of shared electric bikes. It’s $6 for 30 mins or $22 for a week (but you can only have a bike for 30 mins at a time). There are about 19 stations spread between Merewether, Nobby’s and Wickham.
- Swipe&Ride docked bikes – Swipe & Ride is a system of shared basic bikes with two docking stations in the centre and one in the vineyards. It’s $11/hr, $22/4hrs or $44/day.
Two other convenient locations to hire bikes are
- Lynches cafe – You can hire a variety of contraptions with wheels and pedals including a rickshaw and can also get great friendly advice making it a good option for families. Rates vary but a cruiser bike costs $9/hr or $25/day
- Metro Cycles – This is one of the local bike shops (a short walk from the interchange) and they will hire a variety of bikes to you including mountain bikes so you can check out Newcastle’s famous mountain bike trails. Bikes start from $35/day.
The University of Newcastle has a bicycle library where you can hire bikes or buy a second hand bike at a reasonable price and sell it back for close to the same price. Note you will need to take a bus (number 11) or train (to Warabrook station) to get here.
The central part of Newcastle is quite walkable (provided you can walk around the various construction works). However, there are some steps and hazards around (beware if you have a pram of wheelchair). There are some fun paths away from cars to get around the central part of Newcastle if you know where to look.
Visit the Nobbys breakwall, fort scratchley, the cathedral, obelisk, Anzac walk, the various inner city art galleries and museums, stop for a break at a cafe or park, or for a dip at the beach or baths – Newcastle has a lot to see within walking distance of the centre and the Newcastle Visitors centre has put together some ideas for paths you could follow or stray from here.
ITINERIES – Journeys through our city
Here are some ideas for some picturesque, peaceful and potentially challenging days out. These trips combine public transport with walks and/or bicycle rides with potential places to take a bite, enjoy the scenery or just take a well deserved nap. There are some alternative suggestions and you are welcome to chop and change them to suit your day and your way of doing things. Don’t forget your hat and sunscreen (and mozzie repellent in Summer).
Charlestown to Newcastle along the Great North Walk
Forests, views, remote beaches, rockpools and patrolled swim spots (avoid this walk during high tides and swells)
- catch a bus to Charlestown (from Newcastle CBD number 14) to the bus stop in Smith St (or if you need supplies go to Charlestown Square bus stop)
- at Fredrick Street turn left and walk to the end (there is a park on Fredrick St if you have kids that need a play)
- at Milson Street turn right and follow it to the end
- you will follow Great North Walk (GNW) markers from here through the bush walking near Flaggy creek until you hit the Fernleigh track (you will cross Guna St during this section)
- turn right at the Fernleigh track and follow it to Burwood Rd
- cross Burwood Rd and go right to the car park and walk to the beginning of the trails
- follow the Yuelabah (GNW) track to the beach passing the lookout and lagoon
- walk north (to the left) along the beach, crossing the rocky section to Merewether baths
- take a swim and/or stop for a bite to each at Merewether beach (there’s also a kiosk at Bar Beach further along)
- follow the coast north up and over the hill to Newcastle centre (from Merewether you have options to go by bus (21 or 12) or take a bykko share bicycle)
Charlestown to Booragul along the Great North Walk
Forests, lake views, cafes, parks and art (lots of walking under the sun so avoid on hot days)
- catch a bus to the bus stop at the bottom of Charlestown Square
- walk down to the roundabout, cross Patricia Ave and walk through path to Hallvert Crescent
- continue past Park St (becomes Anjon St) and turn right into path indicated by a Great North Walk (GNW) marker
- follow GNW markers through bush, down Park St and continue through the bush
- you will pass through a tunnel and then go around a golf course (watch out for stray balls)
- when you come out of the bush, walk around to the left of the playground and continue to the street following the markers (you will have to walk through suburbia for a while, sorry) left onto Myles Ave and then left at King Street
- You reach the Warners Bay village centre where you can find somewhere to eat if you didn’t pack your own lunch
- from here you can cross to the Warners Bay foreshore and follow the track around the lake to the right.
- After Speers Point Park (great playground and picnic spots) you will follow the GNW signs to the right just before the track passes under a road. Turn left to cross the bridge and follow the path straight (ignore GNW sign which veers off to the left) until you almost reach a roundabout.
- Here you will see a path to the left to continue following the lake. Follow this path all the way to the LMCC art gallery with a cafe and sculpture garden (great spot for a well deserved afternoon tea), but if you don’t want to visit the gallery head straight to the station.
- Return along this path to the roundabout. Cross the side road to the left, walk up the hill and cross the main road at the pedestrian lights. Walk through the park to Booragul Station to catch a train towards the city.
Option to walk over Munibung Hill (still working on/exploring this option)
Jesmond to Merewether
This trek incorporates a range of natural spaces in Newcastle with a dash of suburbia in between
- Catch the 11 or 12 bus to Jesmond and get off at the bus stop near the pedestrian lights near Jesmond Park
- Enter Jesmond park near the bus stop and cross the two small bridges near the playground, take path to the left and when you reach the bicycle path turn left again
- Take the paved trail to the hospital marked with a sign for cyclists
- Follow track to the right of the HRMI building and go through gate and down the track to the right of the large concrete carpark
- Take the second left (don’t walk just next to the carpark, it’s not pretty) and head down through a beautiful gully, veering left where needed, staying on a fairly wide path
- After a steep uphill you reach McCaffrey Drive, turn left and cross the main road (Lookout Rd) at the traffic lights
- Just to the right of the traffic lights you will see a small path heading into Blackbutt Reserve.
- Follow this path and turn left towards Ritchley Reserve (unless you want a longer route to visit the animal enclosure, inwhich case head to Carnley Avenue carpark)
- Blackbutt is well signposted and one way or another you will reach Richley Reserve and you can enjoy the ponds, playground and picnic area
- Staying on the right of the gully you will reach a path/rd that follows the electric wires, follow this until there is a sharp turn to the right.
- There is a little bush track to Dunkley Avenue, follow this road to the bottom of the hill where you will find Cafes (a potential lunch spot)
- Cross Carnley Ave at the traffic lights and go through the park to first street on your left which you will follow to .. where you will turn left and then right into ..
- At the end of the street there is a path to Northcott Dr which is a busy main road (sorry), turn left and go under the railway and walk towards the shops.
- At Park Ave you need to get to the opposite corner of the intersection and then follow Park Ave until you get to Dibbs St, turn right here and then turn right onto the Fernleigh track
- When you reach Burwood Road turn left and head through the carpark to the walking tracks.
- Continue to Merewether following the same path as the Charlestown to Newcastle walk
Belmont North to Dudley or continue to Merewether
- Catch the bus 14 from the city to Wommara Avenue Belmont North just before Railway Crescent/Kalaroo Rd (make sure it doesn’t terminate at Charletown)
- Turn left into Railway Crescent and walk towards Belmont Wetlands (if you feel like some extra walks) and the Fernleigh track where you will turn left to head north towards Redhead
- You will walk through some beautiful wetlands but to your right there is some industry (sorry for the smells) and just past the industry you’ll arrive at a park with a stop sign
- Turn right and walk past the carpark and to the right of the oval there is a clubhouse with shady trees to aim for and a path to the road.
- Once you reach the main road (Elsdon Rd) turn right and soon after you will see a park coming up on your left. Follow the side road next to the park which is a continuation of Elsdon Rd.
- At the end of the road you will see a trail about 10 metre to the left of the cnr. This is Owen’s Trail and you will turn left to head towards Redhead Beach but first of all there is a lovely bridge over the wetlands just to the right if you want to take a peak
- At the end of Owen’s Trail you can turn right to head to the beach but then you have to head back up to Beach Rd, so eventually you will go left up past a nice picnic spot with playground.
- Cross over Beach Rd, and walk along to Alison Rd where you will turn left and follow it all the way to the end and then continue following the road around to the right at the top of the hill (it becomes Collier Rd). There is a path away from the road which you follow almost all the way to the end of the street.
- Opposite Kay Lane you will find a small track to left with a sign listing restrictions… Turn left into this track and follow it for quite a while through Awabakal Nature Reserve. Keep left where necessary and enjoy the views and flowers.
- You will eventually arrive at a T junction with a much wider track at the top of a ridge. It is worth going right to have a look at the view but then head back to the left where you will see a picnic table.
- Continue along the path to the right of the picnic table, go through a gate and you will arrive at the end of Ocean St where there are lots of fancy houses and a bus stop for the 48 bus you can catch back to Charletown if you have had enough walking (then catch the 14 back to the centre of Newcastle)
- Turn right into Tumut St, at the end turn left into Goulburn St, the first right into Bombala St which you follow to the end
- At the end of the street there is a path with a map of Glenrock. Take a photo of the map if you have a camera and continue to follow signs to the beach
- Walk along the beach until you can see a wooden structure and large path leading to the carpark. Walk through the carpark and along the road about 20 metres where there is a the locked gate leading to a trail.
- Following this trail through the forest and turn right when you come to a T-intersection then soon after follow the Link trail left up the hill.
- Just before a gate take the track to your right and follow this around to join with the main trail and continue along and down the hill. At one point a few tracks seem to meet and it can be hard to know the path. Look for stairs going down the rock to continue down towards the beach.
- Walk along Burwood beach and around the rock platform to Merewether beach
There are a number of great cycleways/shared paths in Newcastle that can be incorporated into a ride
Eleebana to Booragul lake cycleway
Greenway from Fassifern to Toronto
Rasberry Gully path
Throsby creek and foreshore path
Wallsend to Glendale path
University and Jesmond park
ATTRACTIONS – Guide to getting to our favorite spots
Catch the 13 bus, once you pass John Hunter Hospital (JHH) and get back on the main Road (Lookout Rd) you want the third bus stop (Lookout Rd Opposite Grandview Rd). Walk through the carpark and you can follow
Alternatively, you can take the first bus stop after JHH and walk to the small entrance near McCaffrey Dve (it’s closer to Richley Reserve
Dudley Bluff and Redhead Lagoon
Catch the bus to Charlestown (14 from the city) and the the 48 to the end of Ocean St or from Charlestown you can use the On demand service. Continue along Ocean St and go through the gate onto the bush trail. When you come to a picnic trail turn right for Redhead Lagoon or straight for Dudley Bluff (a few metres along there is a small track on you right which goes to redhead)
Catch the bus to Charlestown (14 from the city) and the the 48 to Ocean St before Bombala St. Turn left at Bombala St and follow to the end where you will see a track with signs to the beach. Alternatively from Charlestown you can use the on demand service to Dudley beach.
Glenrock Lagoon and surrounds
If you are happy to incorporate a long walk along the Fernleigh track, you can take the 14 bus to Kotara (Park Avenue before Dibbs St – The stop of St Pius X school)
Catch the 14 to Belmont (careful, some buses only go to Charlestown so make sure it terminates at Belmont or Swansea).
Lake Macquarie City Council Art gallery
Catch the train to Booragul station (express trains don’t stop here) walk across the part to the crossing, cross the main road and walk down past the roundabout to the lake. Follow the lake path to the right
Redhead Beach and Owens Track
Catch the 48 to Beach St in Redhead
Tree tops adventures – Minmi
This is not easy but you can catch the 11 bus to Jesmond and then
Catch the train to Sandgate station and walk from there
From google maps
Stockton Sand dunes
Awabakal Nature Reserve
Number 48 bus from Charletown to the end of Ocean Street, Dudley and continue walking along Ocean St and through gate. Alternative stay on the bus to Cowlishaw St before Steel St, Redhead (opposite the bowling club) and continue on Cowlishaw to Allard St where you turn left and look on the right for a path to Alison St. Follow it all the way to the end and then continue following the road around to the right at the top of the hill (it becomes Collier Rd). There is a path away from the road which you follow almost all the way to the end of the street. Opposite Kay Lane you will find a small track to left with a sign
TOURS – For those who want to go with a guide
Newcastle Famous Tram Tours