Just over one 160 kilometres north of Sydney, Newcastle is thestates second largest city and Australia's sixth. Founded as a penalcolony in 1804, coal and steel became the towns major industries,eventually becoming one of the most substantial producers in the world. But withthese industries now in a rapid decline, Newcastle's strong culture andheritage is assisting in the city's emergence as an important educationalcentre with plenty of tourist potential.
The city centre is a peninsula bordered by the Hunter River and severalclean surf beaches, which have long been a mecca for surfers for theirexcellent breaks. Challenging surf aside, Newcastle is steeped in history, and early prosperity provided the town with manyfine colonial buildings which line the wide, leafy boulevards. These superb examples of Australian architecture are complimented by fascinating historical sites and museums, beautiful parklands and gorgeous foreshores. Outside of the city, Newcastle allows easy accessto the world renowned Hunter Valley wineries, a number of wilderness andwildlife reserves, and the enormous Lake Macquarie
Four times larger than Sydney Harbour with over 170 kilometres of shoreline, Lake Macquarie is a magnet for watersport enthusiasts. Situated at various points around the edge of the lake, the towns of Toronto, Morrisset, Belmont and Swansea provide quiet,out of the way retreats. Although populations have boomed overthe past decade, they still retain their sedate, holiday atmosphere.