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Our First Family Road Trip: Newcastle

Newcastle is a harbour city in the Australian state of New South Wales. Its plentiful beaches are linked by the Bathers Way, a coastal walk stretching between Nobbys Beach and Merewether Beach. The walk provides access to Bogey Hole, a convict-built ocean bath from the colonial period. Also on the path is the 1880s Fort Scratchley, a historic site and a viewpoint for spotting migrating whales. The drive from Sydney takes just over 2 hours.

We decided to stay a few days because there are family connections to this place and with my mother in law house-sitting for family friends, it was a great opportunity for all of us to reminisce the past, for the children to check out the different places their daddy lived as a young child and to have a mini holiday together. 

Memorial Walk
The Newcastle Memorial Walk was constructed to commemorate the centenary of the ANZAC landing in Gallipoli in 1915 and the commencement of steel making in Newcastle. This spectacular coastal walk boasts 360 degree views of the city and coast, draws a connection with to Newcastle's Bathers Way. This is a magnificent memorial to the men and women of the Hunter who served their community and country.

Fort Scratchley 
The large and elaborate state of the fort built at Newcastle during the 1880s reflected the importance of the region's resources and the apprehension felt for their safety.
Sixty years later, Scratchley's massive guns went into action against an attack by a Japanese submarine during World War II, earning it distinction as the only fort on the Australian coast to have fired against enemy attack.
These guns now have pride of place on the Historic Site. The military vacated the site in 1972, but the fortifications remain as a concrete record of the evolution of late 19th and early 20th century coastal defence strategy, until changes in modern warfare technology brought the fort's defensive role to an end.

Today, the Fort's Historical Society preserves the military heritage, providing exhibitions and guided tours of the site and its amazing tunnels.
The Lock Up
This was an interesting experience for us because none of us have ever been to a lock up (hopefully, we never will). We assumed that like Fort Scratchley, we would walk around - explore - learn more about what the prisoners did, etc.
The Lock-Up was built to support the Newcastle Police Station which was housed in the adjacent Court House (now the site of the former 1902 Post Office) and was used from 1861 until its closure in 1982.
In 2007, the Lock-Up was unveiled as the The Lock-Up Cultural Centre. This included the gallery space, museum, and residency program. Since this date, the Lock-Up has had an attendance of over 50,000 people!

Newcastle Museum
The Newcastle Museum was such a fun experience for all of us. In fact, if you unfamiliar with Newcastle, make this your first stop because it will give you a good understanding of the this harbour city and its people - resilient, hardworking, creative and entrepreneurial spirits! Their permanent exhibitions include Super Nova, Fire and Earth, a Newcastle Story and Link Gallery.

Stockton by Ferry 
If you have 3 hours to spare, check out this quaint suburb - Stockton otherwise known as Tin City is only 5 mins from Newcastle by ferry. It offers sweeping views of Stockton Bright to Port Stephens. Stockton is a peninsula, with thHunter River at the south and south-west and the Pacific Ocean at the east. On the eastern side are sand dunes and surfing beaches, with numerous shipwrecks at its north, while on the western side there are marshes, where many migratory birds can be spotted. There are numerous spots at Stockton suitable for recreational fishing. Take a stroll, bring a picnic, sit on a park benches and take in the serenity and stunning coastline.
Newcastle will always have a special place in all our hearts largely due to family history and existing connections. We are grateful that the children and I got to learn more about this beautiful city.