Newcastle was on the list of 2011′s hottest cities by Lonely Planet. Newcastle can fly under the radar of local and international travellers, in part because it’s overshadowed by its bigger, bolder and better-known sibling, Sydney, which is 150km south. But, at around one-tenth the size, Australia’s second-oldest city has Sydney-like assets: surf beaches, a sun-drenched subtropical climate, and diverse dining, nightlife and arts.
Newcastle, ideally located and just a 45 minute flight from Sydney, it offers easy access to the Hunter Valley wineries, south to sailboat-filled Lake Macquarie, north to whale-watching and sharkfeeding at Port Stephens, and to sandboarding at Stockton Beach (the southern end of the 32km-long beach is a five-minute ferry ride across Newcastle’s harbour).
Brindabella Airlines serves Newcastle from Sydney with 19 flights per week, and Newcastle from Canberra with 16 flights per week, and offers fares from as low as $150 including taxes.