Sydney may possess the glitz and the glamour, but the state’s second-largest city has down-to-earth larrikin charm instead. Newcastle is the kind of place where you can grocery shop barefoot, go surfing in your lunch hour and quickly become best buddies with the Novocastrian sitting next to you in any bar.
This easygoing, ‘no worries’ attitude has been shaped by Newcastle’s rough-and-tumble past, shaped by a cast of convicts and coal miners. Today it continues to be the largest coal-export harbour in the world, but the city is undergoing something of a renaissance. Wharf rejuvenation projects are breathing new life into the harbour and an eclectic and innovative arts scene is injecting colour and culture into the streets.
Swim or surf at the popular beaches and soak in ocean baths, explore the outstanding heritage architecture in the CBD and window shop along funky Darby St. Dine on fish and chips, watch the tankers chug along the horizon and catch some live music – Newcastle is easily worth a day or two of your time.
Lonely Planet's top 10 cities for 2011
Who doesn't love a city? Lonely Planet has scoured the globe for next year's hottest cities. Our top picks show that a city doesn't need to be a heaving metropolis to get on the list. Then again, sometimes it helps. One of our favourites is the world's largest city that cannot be reached by road.