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Three very good reasons to visit Newcastle

Around 160km up the road from Sydney lies one of Australia's most underrated, and under-visited, cities. Whether you want top quality wines, boutique shopping or some of the most pristine beaches in Australia, Newcastle has a lot to offer.

In 2011, Lonely Planet named it as one of the world’s top cities to visit and, as Skyscanner Australia has noticed, it’s only got better since then. Here are three of the best things to see while you’re there.

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Beautiful beaches

No matter what you look for in a beach, you can find it in Newcastle. The cliffs at Redhead and sea caves at Caves Beach are an endless playground for photographers, the ocean baths at Merewether bring an old time feel to the shoreline and the waves at Nobbys will delight surfers. For nature lovers, dolphins are often spotted playing in the waves with the surfers, whilst humpback whales can be seen off the coast throughout the winter.

What’s more, unlike Sydney’s top beaches, you might be lucky enough to enjoy these areas pretty much on your own, or at least with a decent square footage of space to spread out and even out that tan. The sand quality is so high in Newcastle that there’s also a rumour going around that it was exported from Stockton to Hawaii, but sadly this is just a beautiful story and you can’t fly to Honolulu for the same experience.

Merewether beach

Shopping delights

If you visited Newcastle five or ten years ago, Hunter Street, one of the city’s main streets was a different place. With a spate of shopping malls popping up, independent businesses shut down in a domino effect. Thankfully, with the help of the Renew Newcastle scheme, which offered prime locations for low prices to new businesses, things have turned around and the result is a revitalised city centre, full of boutique stores and art studios that makes for a very pleasant stroll.

And let’s not forget the cafe and restaurant scene found along Beaumont St and Darby St – ready to fill hungry bellies after a day of wandering. Choice aplenty, it’ll satisfy even the most choosy of foodies.

Crispy pork-belly at The Village on Beaumont Street

Wine-tasting

Just as Adelaide has the Barossa Valley, Melbourne the Yarra Valley and Perth has the Margaret River region, Newcastle has the fertile Hunter Valley on its doorstep, the oldest and one of the most respected wine-growing regions in Australia. The semillon is considered the area’s speciality but a wide variety of grapes are grown to create all kinds of wondrous wines.

Most hotels in Newcastle will arrange a tour operator to pick you up or if you prefer you can get public transport out to wine country and meet up with a local guide.

An afternoon well spent – wine tasting in the Hunter Valley

Newcastle has so much to offer you’ll no doubt want to visit more than once. I’m already dreaming of the breakfast delights at Love Tree Cafe, the scrumptious desserts in Cupcake Espresso and Doughheads, the fancy cocktail bars along Honeysuckle Drive and a trip to Blackbutt Nature Reserve that lets you see native animals for free.

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Has Newcastle tickled your fancy? Search for flights to Newcastle on Skyscanner Australia or book car hire from Sydney and make your way up yourself.