Culture Vulture: How to spend a cultural weekend in Newcastle
With a rich heritage, Victorian architecture, a thriving live music scene, and more artists per capita than anywhere else in Australia, it’s easy to get your culture fix in Newcastle.
With the best of the city’s cultural experiences on its doorstep Crystalbrook Kingsley is perfectly placed for you to get amongst it all.
Meet the girl next door
Considered one of NSW’s finest theatre buildings designed by Henry Eli White, architect of Sydney's State and Capitol Theatres, the Civic Theatre is Crystalbrook Kingsley’s very own girl next-door. With her show stopping good looks, this heritage-listed theatre offers a fantastic line-up of local and national acts. Have a pre-show drink at Coal and Cedar and look up and admire the theatre’s grand ornamental dome.
See art at the old clanger
Once home to inmates, the Lock-up is now an award-winning independent arts space showcasing local and contemporary Australian art. Another of Newcastle’s most significant heritage buildings - complete with preserved padded cell and windowless exercise yard (shudder) - it operated as Newcastle Police Station from 1861 until 1982. Inside its once austere walls you’ll find art exhibitions, workshops, creative talks and more.
View art outside
Art is everywhere in Newcastle. At the end of Hunter Street Mall is Sandra Minter-Caldwell’s evocative sculpture of five, life size figures depicting Newcastle’s migrant heritage, a five-tonne steel and fibreglass sculpture by Australian artist Brett Whiteley towers over Newcastle Art Gallery while Foundation Seed, an even taller kinetic sculpture by Newcastle artist John Turier is found in Newcastle West. At Newcastle Museum you’ll find Constance the Camel while adjacent to Newcastle Local Court is a whimsical bronze statue of a paparazzi dog and rabbit woman by Gillie and Marc. Grounded, an abstract representation of the Pasha Bulker’s bow, is meanwhile found on Nobbys Beach and commemorates the ship’s grounding in 2007.
Admire NSW’s second-largest art collection
Opened by Queen Elizabeth II, Newcastle Art Gallery holds one of Australia’s most significant public art collections. Housed in a 1970s geometric brutalist building (an architectural style shared by Crystalbrook Kingsley), the 6,700-piece collection ranges from Australian art from colonial times to the present day, important indigenous work and paintings of early Newcastle by convict artist Joseph Lycett. There’s also works by Hans Heyson, Sidney Nolan, Patricia Piccinini and Newcastle born Jon Molvig, John Olsen and William Dobell - one of Australia’s most celebrated painters. Stroll to the corner of Bull and Corlette Streets Cooks Hill (now a café) to see Dobell’s birth place.
Learn all about Newy
Explore the city’s indigenous Awabakal roots to a history forged by convicts, coal and steel at Newcastle Museum housed in Honeysuckle’s historic railway workshops. Highlights include a hands-on science centre Supernova and Mininova, a Fishing Tree used by generations of Worrimai Aboriginal people to find schools of fish and an 1870’s saddle tank locomotive shipped from the UK which delivered coal locally for almost a century.
Create your own masterpiece
Don an apron and unleash your inner Picasso at a fun paint and sip class at Newcastle artist Mitch Revs’ gallery. Professional artists guide participants through a fun step-by-step painting class involving singing, painting and sipping. Classes run Friday, Saturday and Sunday each week, strolling distance from Crystalbrook Kingsley.