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Winter looks good on you, Newy

You may immediately think summer when planning a trip to Newcastle, Australia’s coolest city by the sea. Bustling waterside bars and cafes, gelato and glorious beaches. And you’d be right. But let us fill you in on a little-known secret: winter in Newy is where it’s at.  

No jostling for tables at hip restaurants, clear blue skies and clean rolling waves (the surf is at its best in winter) make the cooler months an ideal time to explore Australia’s second oldest city. 

Take long walks on practically empty beaches, drink wine at cosy bars and take front row seats to the east coast’s best show - the great annual whale migration that is. Honestly, it doesn’t get any better.
 

Whale Watching

Some coastal towns have tried to corner the whale watching market but don’t let that fool you. Newcastle offers front-row seats along the humpback highway for viewing some of the 35,000 whales that make their annual commute from Antarctica to warmer waters north. 

Dom May from CoastXP loves nothing more than being out on the water, exploring Newcastle’s beautiful coastline and showing off the incredible marine life which includes whales, dolphins and seals. CoastXP’s groups are small, personal and Dom has had multiple encounters with curious whales. 

The chance of seeing whales on one of CoastXP’s tours which operate from June to November from Honeysuckle (a short walk from the Kingsley) is high. “Our whale population is growing so the chances of seeing them is on the rise too,” Dom says.

If you don’t have good sea legs, simply head for one of Newcastle’s lofty vantage spots and watch for that tell-tale stream of air puncturing the sky. Best spots include the Anzac Memorial Walk, Fort Scratchley and the Obelisk but anywhere along the Bathers Way stretching from Nobbys Beach to Merewether Beach is fair game from June through to November. 
 

A Bird Flying Over A Body Of Water
Image credit: CoastXP

Surfing

As the summer crowds pack up local surfers quietly rub their hands with glee. Surfing in Newcastle is considered at its best in winter with consistent clean waves and light offshore winds.

And what surfers love about Newy’s beaches – recognised globally - is you can surf in almost every wind (except for a straight easterly). Offshore reefs tempt skilled surfers while Dixon Park and The Cliff offer good beach breaks.

Merewether Beach is one of Australia’s National Surfing Reserves (a register of iconic surfing spots) where four-time world surfing champion Mark Richards, Luke Egan, Matt Hoy and Ryan Callinan honed their craft. 

On big wave days crowds flock to Merewether Point to catch a glimpse of surfers taking on monster swells.

Take your pick of Newcastle’s string of six beaches, have a surf lesson with Surfest Surf School or just park yourself overlooking a break and watch the surfers having fun. It’s almost as good as being out there.

A Large Body Of Water
Image: Surfing off Dixon Park Beach

Cosy cafés and bars

Crisp winter days call for dimly lit bars, warm as a hug cafes and hearty pub meals next to a blazing fire. 

If it’s fireside dining you’re after, head to the Burwood Inn at Merewether and treat yourself to (arguably) Newcastle’s best steak and a warming glass of Hunter Valley red. 

A short detour off the foodie track will bring you to Flotilla, brought to inner city Wickham by former Silverchair bassist Chris Joannou. Take a seat at this intimate fine diner or prop yourself at the bar for a menu showcasing the best of Australian produce. 

The welcome meanwhile is always warm at Wil & Sons found on bustling Darby Street (a short stroll from Crystalbrook Kinglsey). Look for the eye-catching blue façade and take a table inside the light filled space with its rustic industrial feel. The corn fritters with asparagus and smoked salmon, legendary bacon and egg rolls and fab deli sandwiches will have you sorted, especially if you’re feeling dusty. Or just pop in for a glass of wine after a spot of boutique shopping.

One of the most sought-after places to dine in Newcastle is Roundhouse restaurant at Crystalbrook Kingsley. The modern Australian menu offered at the rooftop restaurant is equal to the sweeping vistas from Nobbys Head to Port Stephens. Eighty percent of produce sourced for the hotel’s signature restaurant is grown within a three-hour radius while the extensive wine list showcases the breadth of the Hunter’s wine varietals. Take a seat at the olive grove themed restaurant inspired by the Hunter Valley’s archetypal groves and the hotel owner’s upbringing. Order a Shiraz from the Hunter Valley and soak up views for days.

Winter looks good on you Newy.

A Hand Holding A Glass Of Wine
Image: Roundhouse Restaurant

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Top image credit: Dom May Coast XP

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