Newcastle New South Wales
Newcastle is Australia's sixth largest city and the second largest in the state of New South Wales. Situated 160km north of Sydney, on the mouth of the Hunter River, it's the predominant city within the Hunter Valley region, a significant coal shipping centre and Australia's largest provincial city.
The first European to explore the area was Lt. John Shortland in 1797, and in 1798, coal mined from the area was the New South Wales colony's first export. An attempt to establish a permanent settlement in the area (then called Coal River) failed but in 1804 the current city (briefly called King's Town) was established. Initially it was a penal settlement, with agriculture the only industry.
Coal mining began in earnest in the 1830s. In the 1890s a zinc smelter was built by Cockle Creek. In 1915 the BHP steelworks opened beginning a period of some 80 years dominated by the steel works and heavy industry.
With the closure of the steel works in 2000 the era of heavy industry is gone, and the city's population is growing, attracted by its affordable living, coastal lifestyle, excellent education and health services and improving employment opportunities in the tertiary sector. Newcastle's cliched image as a grimy steel town is fading. The city centre, once viewed as empty and rather miserable, has attracted a rash of new apartments and hotels in recent years. The Market Street Street Markets have breathed life into the city centre on weekends, operating on Saturdays and Sundays, they have 180+ stalls and bring in thousands of people to the city each weekend.
The old links with Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, whence many of the 19th century coal miners came, is still obvious in some of the place-names - such as Jesmond, Hexham, Wickham and Wallsend.
On December 28, 1989, Newcastle experienced an earthquake measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale which killed 13 people. The following economic recession of the early 1990s meant that the city took several years to recover.
Newcastle is located on the southern bank of the Hunter River at its mouth. The northern side is dominated by sand dunes, swamps and multiple river channels. Because of this, urban development is mainly restricted to the hilly southern bank. The small village of Stockton sits opposite Newcastle at the river mouth and is linked by ferry. Much of the city is undercut by the coal measures of the Sydney sedimentary basin, and what were once numerous coal-mining villages located in the hills and valleys around the port have merged into a single urban area extending southwards to Lake Macquarie.
- Average Annual Temperature: 12.4 - 23.0°C (54.3 - 73.4°F)
- Average January Temperature: 18.0 - 27.8°C (64.4 - 82.0°F)
- Average July Temperature: 6.4 - 16.9°C (43.5 - 62.4°F)
- Days over 30°C (86°F): 37.0
- Days over 35°C (95°F): 8.9
- Days under 2°C (35.6°F): 4.8
- Days under 0°C (32°F): 0.7
- Annual Rainfall: 1120.4mm (44.11 inches)
- Average Annual Windspeed: 13.3 - 20.0 km/h (8.3 - 12.4 mp/h)
The metropolitan area of Newcastle spreads over several Local Government Areas. The estimated population of the City of Newcastle at June 2004 was 145,633 (Australian Bureau of Statistics), but its neighbour, the City of Lake Macquarie, was actually larger, with an estimated 189,196 residents as of June 2004 (ABS). The combined population of the Newcastle area at the 2001 census was 470,610. This includes Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Port Stephens and Cessnock local government areas.
The Port of Newcastle remains the economic and trade centre for the resource rich Hunter Valley and for much of the north and northwest of New South Wales. Newcastle is the world's busiest coal export port and Australia's oldest and second largest tonnage throughput port, with over 3,000 shipping movements handling cargo in excess of 90 million tonnes per annum (mtpa), of which coal exports represent more than 90%. Newcastle also has a substantial ship building industry.
The old central business district, located at Newcastle's eastern end, still has a considerable number of historic buildings, dominated by Christ Church Cathedral, seat of the (Anglican) Bishop of Newcastle. Other noteworthy buildings include Fort Scratchley, the Ocean Baths, the old Customs House, the 1920s City Hall, and the 1930s art deco University House (formerly NESCA House).
The Honeysuckle Development Corporation, is redeveloping 50 hectares of derelict land and buildings along Newcastle Harbour, adjacent to the CBD. This is one of the largest urban renewal projects in Australia with a variety of open space projects which cater for outer-suburban weekend tourists and local residents. Honeysuckle has been used to significantly change the class character of inner Newcastle residency, and has provided few jobs which did not exist prior to redevelopment.
Charlestown, a suburb 10 km south of the CBD, can be likened to Sydney's Chatswood, in relation to Chatswood being the major development and business district outside of the Sydney CBD. In the past year Charlestown has been developing madly, with the completion of the Alto Tower, a nine story block of premium apartments. Sky Central Charlestown, and The Landmark, both highrise commercial and apartment blocks, expect to be completed around 2007.
The University of Newcastle (formerly part of the University of New South Wales) obtained its autonomy in 1965 and now with a student population of just over 20,000 offers over 150 undergraduate and graduate courses, delivered via five Faculties - Business and Law; Education and Arts; Engineering and Built Environment; Health; and Science and Information Technology. The university has one of the largest international student populations of any university in Austrlia.
Newcastle has an active youth music culture and a thumpin' live music scene. Bands and groups produce both guitar based and computer based music for a pub based concert scene. Silverchair, the highly successful Australian band, hailed from Newcastle. Newcastle, just after Melbourne is considered "the place" to see live rock music and up and coming young bands.
Unlike those of its British namesake, who call themselves "Geordies", residents of Newcastle, NSW refer to themselves as "Novocastrians".
The Newcastle Airport is only 15km north of the city, a 20 minute drive, this is extremely convenient, as the airport is now quite large, servicing major domestic airlines such as Virgin Blue, Qantas and Jetstar. There is also a major Air Force base.
State Transit operates an extensive bus service throughout Newcastle and suburbs. The service is reliable, clean, safe and cheap, and is growing in popularity, with more and more people opting to take the bus over their cars. There is a free bus service in the inner-city, allowing people to get around the CBD much quicker. This is extremely useful to shoppers and people wishing to shop during their lunch breaks. This free bus service alleviates traffic congestion considerably and is one of many examples showing Newcastle's break as a sophisticated and modern city.
Newcastle is served by a daily newspaper (Newcastle Herald) and several weeklies (including Newcastle Star). In addition, several of the outlying communities, including Cessnock and Maitland have newspapers of their own.
The city is also served by several local radio stations, including those owned by the ABC and SBS.
- AM stations
- FM stations
- Nationally owned services
- Other stations
- 2KY Racing Radio (as part of state-wide network)
- NBN Television (Nine Network affiliate, incumbent station, established 1962)
- Southern Cross Ten (Network Ten affiliate, established as a result of aggregation on December 31 1991)
- Prime Television (Seven Network affiliate, established as a result of aggregation on December 31 1991)
- ABC Television (owned by the government, established in the 1960's)
- SBS Television (owned by the government, introduced in the 1980's)
Newcastle has a thriving sports culture centred on the Newcastle Knights, a team that plays in Australia's premier rugby league competition, the National Rugby League. Other major spectator and participant sports include Netball, Basketball, Football, AFL, Rugby Union, Hockey and Surfing.
Teams participating in national sports leagues are:
- Newcastle Knights (National Rugby League)
- Hunter Pirates (National Basketball League)
- Hunter Jaegars (Commonwealth Bank Trophy - Netball)
- Newcastle United Jets (A-League - Football)
- Steve Abbott (aka The Sandman), comedian
- Andrew Johns, footballer
- Su Cruickshank, notable Australian Actress
- Mikey Robbins, comedian
- Nasenbluten, hardcore techno outfit
- John Doyle (aka Roy Slaven), comedian
- Rock band Silverchair
- Ska Punk band The Porkers
- Heavy Metal Band Inane Eminence
- Dave Sands, boxer
- Yahoo Serious (Greg Pead)
- John Paul Young, singer
- Mark Richards, former professional surfer
- Rhiana Griffith, actress.
- Tricia Flanagan, artist.
- Peter Cave Journalist, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
- Louise Radvan, radio personality, NXFM
- Tasman Page (aka DJ_Tas), disk jockey
- Barnabas Hodgson (aka DJ Kato)
- Luke Hoskins (aka Drillbit), experimental producer and founder of Noise Machine label
- Newcastle City Council
- The Newcastle Herald (local newspaper)
- University of Newcastle
- Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle