Newcastle history and heritage
On land or sea explore Newcastle’s fascinating heritage. You’ll discover Australia’s only coastal fortification to fire upon a World War II enemy naval vessel, a convict rock pool, Aboriginal cultural heritage tours, beautiful parks and buildings, maritime and industrial history, and powerful stories.
Aboriginal people’s deep connections with the region date back thousands of years before colonists from Sydney arrived in the 1790s in search of escaped convicts and discovered rich natural resources and a fine natural harbour. The Hunter River estuary is one of Australia’s busiest ports today.
Find out more about the local indigenous heritage on fun and informative tours. The Yamuloong Centre offers a bush tucker walk in beautiful native gardens. Or join Sand Dune Adventures for a cultural quad bike tour to ancient Aboriginal campsites and learn about traditional bush medicines.
Newcastle is NSW’s second-largest city, named in 1804 after Britain’s famous coal port. A range of tours delve into the city’s heritage. Begin your discovery at the Newcastle Museum where historical exhibitions include the 1989 Newcastle earthquake and there’s a hands-on science centre for kids.
For military history and spectacular views, the Fort Scratchley Historic Site is a must-see. The guns here roared salvoes at a Japanese submarine attacking Newcastle in June 1942. There is a tunnel system and regular tours. At 1pm the time gun fires in a display of 19th century maritime tradition.
Convenient ways to travel between the city’s historical attractions include the Newcastle Coastal Explorer and Newcastle’s Famous Tram, a replica of an original tram in service in 1923. Both tours include the 1863-declared King Edward Park, a beautiful reserve with breathtaking ocean views.
Located below King Edward Park is the heritage-listed Bogey Hole, a rock pool carved out by convicts in 1819 for the personal use of Major James Morisset, the Newcastle Commandant from 1819 to 1822. At the northern end of Newcastle Beach is the art deco pavilion of Newcastle Ocean Baths.
For maritime heritage, join Nova Cruises, Spitfire Pilot Boats or and explore the Port of Newcastle. Or hop aboard a Nova riverboat to historic Morpeth, where the Arnott’s family biscuit dynasty began in 1847. The founder William Arnott moved to Newcastle in 1865.