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Newcastle Highlights & Surroundings
hrs Estimate Duration
Explore the rich history of Newcastle and the surrounding Hunter Valley by visiting a 19th-century fort, a former prison and a frontier river town that is still thriving.
Drive past several of Newcastle’s architectural treasures, including the Victorian Romanesque former Customs House and Christchurch Cathedral, an imposing church with more than 70 beautiful stained-glass windows. Before long, you will pause for an exterior look at Fort Scratchley, a national historic treasure that sits atop a hill overlooking the Hunter River Estuary. In 1801, long before the fort (now a museum) was constructed, convict labor dug Australia’s first coal mine here.
Visit Maitland Gaol, a maximum-security prison that operated for nearly 150 years until finally closing in 1998. The gaol earned a reputation for cruelty, although it is now open for tours, art gallery exhibitions and even sleepovers, the latter being popular among those that believe in the paranormal, as the site is supposedly haunted.
In time, you will drive inland to the town of Morpeth on the banks of the Hunter River. During free time, you might stroll the sandstone streets, admire the colonial architecture, or browse the abundant shops along Swan Street. There is also a heritage trail through town with signs pointing out the significance of the key historical sites.
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Scenic & City Tours
Tours with this activity level involve walking over relatively level terrain, possibly some cobblestone, gravel, or a few steps. Comfortable shoes are recommended.
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