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Travel and General Information

 

Obtaining a travel visa...

Requirements vary depending on your country of residence, so please read carefully and apply for your visa allowing ample lead time for processing. We have been advised that all visa applicants must ensure that they are applying for a visa in the business category, NOT the tourist category (applications lodged in the tourist category may result in the refusal of a visa).

This is latest information from the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection: General Information | Visa Options | Online Visa Finder Tool

To request a letter of invitation from WEAI, complete the application form and return it to visa@weai.org. (Note: The auto "submit" option only works if using IE as your browser. Otherwise download/save the pdf to your computer, complete the form and attach it to an email to visa@weai.org.)

 

Here's a little bit about Newy (Newcastle)...

Australia's second-oldest city, bound by a working harbour and glorious surf beaches, was forged from coal, timber and sweat but has moved on from that rough-and-tumble era to embrace a new outlook.

Clever repurposing has transformed heritage buildings. Former railway workshops house Newcastle Museum; a sandstone bank is now a French-inspired bar sparkling with chandeliers; a brewery's 19th-century grain and keg warehouse now showcases craft beers.

Arts projects, festivals and events have transformed five inner-city precincts. Come and explore Civic, Cooks Hill, East End, West End and the harbourside Honeysuckle development. Their makeovers are all part of a 25-year plan to revitalise Newcastle, shoring up its position as a vibrant regional centre and gateway to Hunter Wine Country.

A top ten city in Lonely Planet's 'Best in Travel 2011', this is where bohemian culture coexists with surf culture; where hip cafés and award-winning restaurants flank an industrial port; where the land meets the sea.

This is Newcastle – a city of contrast, change and endless possibility.

 

And here's a short history of the place...

In 1770, Captain Cook noted a distinctive islet – Nobbys Head – on a map as he sailed by, yet it wasn't until 1797 that Lieutenant Shortland, searching for convicts who'd nicked a ship, discovered a "very fine coal river", naming it after Governor Hunter. The fledgling Sydney colony drew on the area's coal and timber resources before using it as a satellite penal settlement for the very worst offenders. At Limeburners Bay on the Stockton peninsula, bone-weary convicts were set to work making lime.

When military rule ended in 1823, a pioneer town blossomed. Throughout the 1900s, Newcastle's fortunes were tied to the steelworks. A deadly earthquake struck in 1989, and the steelworks' closure ten years later also rocked the city to its foundations. But Newcastle's port remains the world's biggest coal export terminal. Today, even as Newcastle embraces its indigenous, colonial, maritime and industrial past, it is busy looking to the future as a regional capital of creativity and cool.

 

Newcastle FAQs

How do I get to Newcastle?

Easily accessible by air with several flights departing daily, rail, interstate and local coach services.  By road - if approaching from the south, the M1 Pacific Motorway from Sydney will have you arriving in Newcastle in just two hours. Alternatively, if you are entering the city from the north, follow the Pacific Highway. By air - Newcastle Airport is the major regional airport and is located 30 minutes north of Newcastle's city centre. Many direct flights are available on a daily basis from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Ballina / Byron Bay, the Gold Coast, Canberra and Dubbo. By rail - Newcastle is part of the CityRail network. There are frequent return services daily. CountryLink trains connect Newcastle to Sydney, Brisbane and other country centres.  

From Sydney Airport:

  1. rent a car and drive 2 hours to Newcastle
  2. fly 40 minutes to Newcastle Airport ($75 - $125)
  3. take a train from Sydney International Airport Station through Central Station to Hamilton Station (located in Newcastle City Centre) (cost $30 - $40) for 3.5 hours journey (includes transfer time)
  4. take a bus from Sydney Airport to Newcastle ($15 - 35) for 3 hour journey
  5. take a towncar ($365 - $675) 

From Brisbane Airport:

  1. fly 2.75 hours to Newcastle airport (cost $47 - $99)
  2. rent a car and drive 9 hours to Newcastle
  3. take a train from Brisbane International Airport through Brisbane station to Broadmeadow Station (10 minutes from Newcastle City Centre) (cost $90 - $136) for 13.5 hour journey (includes transfer time)
  4. take a bus from Brisbane International Airport through Brisbane Roma Street station to Newcastle station (cost $70 - $156) for 16.5 hour journey (includes transfer time)

 

How do I get around once I am here?

Newcastle is a very walkable city, with a range of scenic walking and cycle tracks in the city centre and suburbs of Newcastle. For bike hire, there are rental companies including Newcastle Electric Bikes, Boomerang Bikes and Spinway who offers bikes for hire for as little as $33 per day. However for those who do not want to walk or ride, timetables for the Stockton Ferry and Newcastle Buses are available from the City of Newcastle's Administration Centre (located on the ground floor), 282 King Street, Newcastle, or by clicking here. Port Stephens Coaches operate between Newcastle Airport and Newcastle Station several times a day during the week. Newcastle also offers taxi services on 131 000 or 131 008, or the ride sharing service, Uber.

 

When is the best time to visit Newcastle?

Newcastle is fantastic to visit all year round as it lies in the temperate zone, so generally the climate is free from extreme temperatures. Seasons are the reverse of those in the northern hemisphere - Christmas is in December (summer) while winter is between June and August. The warmest months are December to February, with an average maximum temperature of 26C. The coolest months are June to August when daytime temperatures rarely fall below 7C. For up-to-date weather forecasts visit the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

 

How long should I spend in Newcastle?

Personally, we think forever is a good amount of time to spend here, that's why we live here! But seriously, Newcastle is such a vibrant and livable city, that most people who come here on holidays, almost always return, either to live, study or holiday. If you are visiting from another area, or internationally, you could easily spend several days here, or you could base yourself here for a week or two and use Newcastle as your base to explore Port Stephens, the Hunter Valley, Lake Macquarie and beyond.

 

What types of accommodation options are there?

It doesn't matter if you have spent your day exploring all of the wonderful things Newcastle has to offer, or if you've spent it relaxing, everyone needs somewhere to unwind and sleep at the end of the day. Newcastle has a range of accommodation options to suit any taste or budget. From internationally branded hotels to beautiful boutique venues and Backpackers and Hostels, Newcastle has something for everyone. To search and book your Newcastle stay click here

 

What is there to do in Newcastle?

Despite having inspired Lonely Planet's admiration, Newcastle is yet to be detected by the mass tourism radar. The seaside city of Newcastle is a great holiday destination with a rich history, quirky arts culture and a thriving dining and shopping scene. Embark on one of the many self-guided walking tours or learn how to surf. Spot local marine life aboard Nova Cruises or get up close to Australian animals at Blackbutt Reserve, 182 hectares of natural bushland where you can walk the trails and discover the wildlife. Take a family day out to swing and climb like Tarzan at Tree Top Adventure Park, or for something more relaxing, pack up the picnic basket and head to King Edward Park, Foreshore Park or one of the many beautiful parks within Newcastle and have the perfect picnic with friends or family. For a full list of things to see and do, click here

 

How do I experience Newcastle like a local?

1.     Get your caffeine fix - Over the past few years, Newcastle has created a coffee culture that gives Melbourne a run for its money. You never have to look far for a flat white in this buzzing city with baristas dominating almost every other shop!

2.     Rent a bike - Act like the city is yours. Hire a bike and enjoy some of the most beautiful cycle paths in the state.

3.     Shop local - Explore one of the many local markets for fresh local produce, wines, gourmet foods, arts, crafts, fashion, jewellery, home wares and much more at Newcastle Farmers Markets, The Olive Tree Markets and Hunt and Gather Markets.

4.     Get out your active wear - Start your morning with a walk along Bathers Way, one of the most beautiful coastal walks in the country, with rock pools and swimming spots dotted amongst amazing white sand beaches.

5.     Spend a day at the Beach - If your idea of fun is lazing around in the sun, Newcastle has plenty of options.

 

What is there to do after dark?

There’s no better way to describe Newcastle’s nightlife than electric. Small bars are constantly popping up all over the city, while some old favourites have truly kicked things up a notch. There are boutique beer bars for those beer aficionados, glamourous harbourside bars and local pubs playing live music around the city. Enjoy a delicious cocktail at one of the many wonderful venues along Hunter Street, enjoy a late night coffee at the funky inner city Darby Street or make your way to Beaumont Street to the enjoy the late night local pub atmosphere.

 

Where should I go to eat & drink?

Newcastle has an emerging food scene that makes it an appealing spot to indulge in quality food and wine and it seems that around Newcastle East there's a new bar, cafe, deli, or restaurant throwing open its doors every week. Hamilton's Beaumont Street has long been a mecca for wining and dining, with a wonderful array of lively pubs and sidewalk cafes. For those who prefer relaxed dining, Darby Street in Cooks Hill offers bohemian style cafes and galleries to browse. Enjoy lunch or a cup of coffee before heading off to shop through the variety of artisan stores. Or, for those who can't go past those waterfront views, right on the harbor at Honeysuckle wharf, The Boardwalk is the place to head for sophisticated dining and opulent bars with spectacular harbor views. For a list of places to eat and drink, click here

 

I'm travelling with kids, what is there to do to keep them entertained?

Surrounded by breathtaking sceneries, Newcastle offers diverse dining, cultural and entertainment options making it a favourite family destination. Newcastle has loads of great family friendly activities to keep not just the kids, but Mum and Dad, entertained all year round. Here is our top 15 list of awesome family friendly things to do.

 

Are there any major events in Newcastle?

Winner of three International Festivals and Events City Award, Newcastle is home to many exciting major events. Keep an eye out for upcoming events at Newcastle Entertainment Centre, Civic Theatre, Newcastle Jockey Club and Lizotte’s for great musical showcases, theatre shows, race days and exhibitions. Regular events include Rugby League home games for the Newcastle Knights and Soccer A-League, Newcastle Jets games taking place at Hunter Stadium. Other annual events include Newcastle Jazz Festival, Surfest, Craft Beer Week, This is Not Art Festival, Newcastle Writer’s Festival and many more. For a full list of events, click here or follow us on Facebook - Newcastle, Australia for the latest information about upcoming events.

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Surrounding Regions

All within an hour’s drive, Newcastle is ideally located to access amazing beaches in Newcastle and Port Stephens; world-class wineries in the Hunter Valley; a world-heritage listed rainforest, Barrington Tops; Australia’s largest salt water lake, Lake Macquarie; and some of the world’s most famous horse studs in the Upper Hunter.

Lake Macquarie

Beach, lake and mountains - Lake Macquarie, a unique city located on the shores of one of the largest coastal salt-water lakes in the southern hemisphere.

Port Stephens

Port Stephens is known for its nature and abundance of aquatic and land activities on its uncrowded sandy beaches, sheltered bays and unspoilt national parks. The aquatic reserves in and around Port Stephens are unparralled in terms of beauty, variety and ease.

Hunter Valley Wine Country

Australia’s oldest wine growing region where you’ll find more than 150 wineries producing world-class wines. It is also renowned for its fine dining, cooking schools, galleries, health spa retreats and golf courses.

Maitland

Made up of a patchwork of places, townships, colourful communities and immense history. As you explore the various destinations on offer you will notice the uniqueness and warmth which makes Maitland, the wonderful area it is. On arrival to the area, adventure, exploration, indulgence and relaxation await you.

Great Lakes

Whether you're seeking relaxation, a family-fun packed stay or craving adrenalin fuelled adventure - the Great Lakes is the perfect holiday destination to visit all year round.

Barrington Tops

Immerse yourself in the World Heritage-listed rainforests of Barrington Tops National Park. Easy walks, overnight hikes, great picnic, fishing and camping spots await.