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 and go surfing in your lunch hour. This easygoing, ‘no worries’ attitude is a product of Newcastle’s rough-and-tumble past, shaped by a cast of convicts, coal miners and steelworkers.
The city is still one of the largest coal-export harbours in the world, but it's undergoing something of a cultural renaissance. Rejuvenation projects are breathing new life into the waterfront and an eclectic and innovative arts scene is injecting colour and culture into the streets.
Swim or surf at the first-rate beaches, explore the heritage architecture in the CBD and window shop along funky Darby St – Newcastle is easily worth a day or two of your time.