australia's surfing coast

from eden to bondi, to byron bay & beyond


Newcastle - // Australia's surfing coast //

Perched between a working harbour and beautiful beaches, Newcastle is a vibrant cosmopolitan city, bursting with energy and creativity. Newcastle’s beaches are the major highlight for visitors with five great surf beaches and two outdoor ocean baths. Newcastle also has a thriving cultural life, with more than 30 art galleries in and around the city. The emerging food scene here is evident in the great restaurants, bars and outdoor cafés around the city.

Merewether Beach

Merewether to Bar Beach, “The Stretch” as the locals call it, faces true southeast, offers a variety of waves and is very consistent. Bar Beach reef, at its best in northeast swells, generates a tasty left-hander and has some northeast wind protection too. “The Cliff” offers a peak most of the time and depending on favourable sandbanks has good rights and lefts as well. Dixon Park is the middle of The Stretch and in a big northeast swell produces left-hand barrels reminiscent of Hawaii’s Pipeline. Merewether itself is best in southeast swells and is semi-protected when the wind is a southerly too. This is where local hero and four-time Association of Surfing Professionals tour champion Mark Richards (“MR”) can be found, swooping into giant right-handers off “Third Reef” Merewether and wowing the latest crop of local grommets. Merewether Beach was declared a National Surfing Reserve in March 2009 at Surfest, one of the world's longest-running surfing festivals.

Stockton Beach

Stockton faces east-northeast and is handily protected from south winds and big south swell by Nobby’s Head. It does however get the summer afternoon sea breeze in full force. Learn-to-surfers can expect a forgiving wave and few local wave-riding hot-shots, while “kiddie’s corner” beside the break-wall at the south end is as sheltered and friendly as it sounds. Cabins and camping/caravan sites can be had nearby at Stockton Beach Tourist Park, popular with holidaying families, especially those who love their beach and estuary fishing. Happily there’s also a fine café just a stone’s throw from the Pacific.

Blacksmith's Beach

Blacksmith’s Beach faces east so it catches swell from most directions, although southerly winds and swells don’t make such an impression thanks to protection provided by Swansea Heads just to the south. The break-wall at Blacksmith’s is a good bet in a hefty swell, and it can provide some nice long right-hand rides when everywhere else is just too big. There is a caravan/camping park close by and the cheerful Blacksmith’s Beach House backpackers is on the west side of the highway. Just back from the beach is Australia’s largest saltwater lake, Lake Macquarie, popular for fishing, sailing, waterskiing and stand up paddle-boarding.

Caves Beach

Caves Beach faces east-northeast and enjoys some protection at both north and south ends. It can be a great option on smaller days especially during the cooler months, while the north end gets good waves best suited to advanced board-riders. Caves Beachside Hotel, an ambitious development just back from the beach, opened in early 2009 with bars, restaurants, kids’ entertainment and live music.

Redhead Beach

Redhead Beach faces true southeast and is thus well protected from the northeast sea-breeze. The surf here is usually best suited to intermediate and advanced surfers, although on a smaller swell it’s ride-able for those still getting their form together. Expect to shoot the curl with the big long-board crew here most days. The headland here is one of the best look-outs for whale-watching in the Newcastle area, and offers great photo op’s of local board-riders too.

Nobby's Beach

Nobby’s is one of Newcastle’s town beaches and generally considered the safest. Facing slightly southeast, it’s open to swell and wind from most directions and usually offers a variety of beach breaks that work for surfers of any ability. The southern headland blocks any big southerly blow or scary south swell and this end produces consistently learner-friendly waves too. The picturesque northern headland comes complete with lighthouse and also takes the edge off the northeast sea breeze. There’s a nice left-hander to be had this end when the swell is east-northeast too. Being a popular city beach, Nobby’s is patrolled year-round, which makes it a good bet for families and anyone with limited experience amid the waves.

Getting there:
Newcastle is 152km and two hours' drive north of Sydney. There are frequent return rail services daily from Sydney.

Learn to surf schools:
Redhead Mobile Surf School
Newcastle Surf School
Surfest Surf School

Things to do and see in Newcastle