Perched at almost the halfway point on the New South Wales coast between the Victoria and Queensland borders, the seaside city of Newcastle is known for its industrial seaport, love of sports and eclectic underground art and music community.
Whether you’re experiencing it for the first time or requiring an update, here’s six ideas for navigating Newcastle in 2022.
Eat: Antojitos Mexican
Hailing from northern California, Antojitos co-owner Eric Flores has made it his mission to bring that region’s casual taqueria experience to Newcastle. Named after a Mexican term for small portions of street food, Antojitos began as a humble market stall. From there, it graduated to a small brick-and-mortar spot and eventually its current warehouse-sized eatery on Steel Street in Newcastle West. Freshness is the central philosophy, with salsa and corn tortillas made from scratch every day. That sets the table for tacos, burritos, nachos and mulitas (a quesadilla-esque toasted dish); you can even skip the tortillas and enjoy burrito fillings on a heaped plate. Vegan diners are covered with several options (including soyrizo), all accompanied by a variety of Californian, Spanish and Mexican draughts and a core slate of classic Mexican cocktails.
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Eat: Good Brother Espresso
Tucked away just a couple of blocks from the beach, Good Brother is as much an affable community hub as it is a reliable cafe. Coffee and health-packed breakfast bowls are an easy sell in the mornings at this King Street spot, followed by toasties and pastries for lunch or afternoon tea. Fast-forward to 5pm on Fridays and the cosy brick interior hosts live music, drinks, dancing and a limited night-time menu as part of its much-loved Good Nights series. That means wine, cocktails and beers, all delivered with Good Brother’s signature friendliness. Earlier in the day, customers are encouraged to bring board games from home and linger at their own leisure. The abundance of vegetarian and vegan options means there’s something for everyone.
Drink: Earp Distillery
Brothers Michael and Richard Earp bring equal parts creativity and consistency to the spirits produced by their family-owned distillery, established in 2019. The range has grown by leaps and bounds since then, yielding distinctive takes on classic gins (including dry, juniper-driven and navy-strength) in eye-catching white bottles. It’s not just gin: look out for cask-aged rum, a preservative-free limoncello, a clean-drinking vodka and even absinthe. You can sample various drops via guided tastings at the Earp bar on Darling Street in Carrington, or delve deeper with a distillery tour or spirit-based masterclasses. The expansive space also sports cleverly named (and made) cocktails and a similarly playful food menu, as well as hosting regular live music and weekend craft workshops.
Drink: The Falcon
Located a stone’s throw from the open greenery of Pacific Park, The Falcon is a cosy bar and late-night restaurant on Pacific Street steeped in the old-school influence of the American South – right down to blue vinyl booths flanked with retro wall lamps. Comfort food is king here, starting with brisket or pulled pork nachos (also available in vegan form) and stacked burgers and sandwiches of all stripes. Especially American are the hearty jambalaya and the crunchy chicken and waffles. For drinks, knowing twists on cocktail staples are complemented by a deep roster of Aussie craft beer and a solid wine list.
Do: Throsby Creek Walk
You won’t exhaust yourself on this cruisy three-kilometre trail connecting Wickham and Carrington on the CBD’s west end. The flat, kid-friendly loop caters just as naturally to biking and running as it does to blissful birdwatching and leashed dog-walking. The titular creek has been dramatically rehabbed in recent years, and plenty of trees offer shade enough for picnics, with cultural events also on from time to time. Rowers dot the waterway alongside paddle boards and yachts and a leisurely boardwalk has you strolling through thick swathes of mangrove.
Do: Shopping on Darby Street
Strolling and people-watching rank amongst the perennial appeals of Darby Street, the main artery through historic Cooks Hill. Quirky bars, cafes and boutiques share the inner-city suburb with artisanal craftspeople and wellness destinations, with highlights including well-curated retro fashion from Sourced Vintage, long-time fashion, music and good vibes mainstays Abicus, a bonanza of secondhand reads at Cooks Hill Books, and men’s boutique Steel and Anchor. Cap it off with a schooner at the father and son led Wil and Sons pub. If you’re in town on the first Saturday of the month, make a beeline for Olive Tree Markets at Civic Park, where you’ll find some of the regions’ best artisans and designers selling their wares.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Visit Newcastle.