This welcoming beachside city boasts an intriguing maritime history along with beautiful coastline and diverse natural landscapes ranging from lush rainforests to preserved wetlands to coastal sand dunes. In addition to its celebrated beaches, the city’s unique ocean baths are among the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. The most spectacular views of the beaches and harbor are found at Fort Scratchley Historic Site, where you can also learn about the city’s naval and mining history in the system of underground tunnels. For a taste of the local flavor, stroll down Darby Street and find great eateries and restaurants.
- Airlie Beach
- Kingfisher Bay (Fraser Island)
- Norfolk Island
- Penneshaw (Kangaroo Island)
- Perth (Fremantle)
- Phillip Island
- Port Lincoln
- Thursday Island
- Whitsunday Island
Most Active or Strenuous
Minimal Activity Required
Explore the history, architecture and scenic beauty of Newcastle during this orientation tour of the city.
With a population of approximately 250,000 residents, Newcastle is the second-largest city in New South Wales. Located at the mouth of the Hunter River, Newcastle was founded as a penal colony, but coal deposits quickly led to its establishment as an important center for shipping and commerce by the 1860s. Industrialization subsequently increased after iron and steel mills were built in 1915.
Depart the pier for the drive through the city of Newcastle, the commercial, administrative and industrial center of the region. Along the way, you will pass by historic buildings that include Fort Scratchley, City Hall, Civic Theatre, Nobbys, Bathers Way, and the famous Ocean Baths. From here, you will continue on to King Edward Park for spectacular views and photo opportunities before proceeding for a visit to the impressive Christ Church Anglican Cathedral. Perched high above the city, the cathedral was opened by Governor Macquarie in 1818. During your visit, you will learn about the church's interesting restoration, which won the National Trust Heritage Award in 1997.
Your tour will conclude with a drive west out of the city, and on to Mount Sugarloaf for panoramic views from its scenic lookout.
Following your visit, you will be transferred back to the pier.
Please note: This tour involves a brief visit to the Cathedral and one photo-stop; the rest of the tour is spent on the coach. Guests will experience even and paved areas, with some uneven, natural and grassed grounds at King Edward Park and the Cathedral. Guests with limited mobility and guests in wheelchairs can manage this tour with the assistance of a spouse. Guests must be able to get out of their chair to board/disembark the coach. There are approximately three large steps involved. Wheelchairs must be collapsible, and can be stored in the luggage compartment of the coach.
Experience a tour of contrasts during visits to the former prison of Maitland Gaol, and the historic trading port of Morpeth.
Depart the pier for the drive to Maitland, located 19 miles northwest of Newcastle. In the mid-to-late-1800s, Maitland was a thriving coal-mining center, rivaling Sydney as the capital of New South Wales. Upon arrival, you will visit Maitland Gaol. This old jailhouse, or gaol, is perhaps the area's most visited site. It served as a high security prison for 150 years until it finally closed in 1998. Now a museum, the jail consists of a pair of two-story buildings with a gatehouse, cells and outer wall. During your guided tour, you will gain a unique insight into the harsh prison life that existed here. Your guide will likely be an ex-convict or prison guard, and his commentary and stories about prison conditions and convict life may be rather graphic at times.
Next, your drive will continue on to the picturesque town of Morpeth. During the 1830s and 1840s, Morpeth was the Hunter Valley's major port, a commercial center focused on the trade along the Hunter River. Today, the town is home to numerous shops selling arts, crafts and collectibles. During your visit, some free time will be made available to explore the town at your leisure. Afterward, you will re-board your coach for an orientation drive focusing on the area's history and industry. Along the way, you will pass by the large Tomago Aluminum works, Royal Australian Air Force Base and suburb of Stockton before being transferred back to the pier.
Please note: The tour at the Maitland Gaol provides a graphic insight in the harsh realities of prison life, and is not for the squeamish. This tour is not recommended for children under the age of 14, as the information presented may include adult themes, course language, and drug and sexual references. Attendance of children under 14 years is at the discretion of their parents or guardians, who must accompany them during the prison tour. Guests will be required to negotiate stair climbing and narrow corridors at Maitland Gaol. Walking during the free time at Morpeth will take place over even and paved paths, and is at the discretion of each guest.
Discover Newcastle's historic charm, scenic natural beauty and bushland wildlife during this half-day tour of the city and countryside.
Depart the pier for the drive along the Foreshore, which is dotted with restaurants and bars. In contrast, you will find old waterfront buildings, turn-of-the-century storefronts, City Hall and Civic Theatre as you pass through the center of town. You will then see Nobbys Lighthouse standing sentinel over the southern side of the Hunter Estuary. When Captain Cook passed this coastline in 1790, he referred to the Nobbys as "a small clump of an island laying close under the land."
Your drive will continue on to Fort Scratchley, one of Newcastle's foremost heritage attractions. The fort was constructed between 1881 and 1886, and is one of only two examples of late-19th-century military fortifications in New South Wales. From here, you will proceed to
King Edward Park for photo opportunities of the Ocean Baths and Canoe Pools, then proceed to Newcastle's impressive Christ Church Anglican Cathedral. Perched high above the city, the cathedral was opened by Governor Macquarie in 1818. During your visit, you will learn about the church's interesting restoration, which won the National Trust Heritage Award in 1997.
Your tour will conclude with a drive west to Blackbutt Reserve, located approximately 4 miles out of Newcastle. The reserve is an undulating natural environment consisting of enclosures in bushland settings; its exhibits feature native wildlife that includes emus, kangaroos, wallabies and koalas, along with a variety of bird species.
Please note: The visit to the Blackbutt Reserve involves a walk of approximately 200 years to visit the wildlife enclosures. Wildlife sightings cannot be guaranteed. The visit to King Edward Park and Fort Scratchley involves walking over even paved areas with some uneven, natural ground; some small hills and stairs may also need to be negotiated. The visit to Blackbutt Reserve involves walking over paved paths; however, guests may also encounter natural and bumpy grounds. Fort Scratchley and its Maritime and Military Museum are currently undergoing renovations, but are expected to be open at the time of the ship's call. Guests with limited mobility and guests in wheelchairs can manage this tour with the assistance of a spouse or ship's escort. Guests must be able to get out of their chair to board/disembark the coach. There are approximately three large steps involved. Wheelchairs must be collapsible, and can be stored in the luggage compartment of the coach.
Walk through the heart of Newcastle, admiring the historical architecture as you learn about the city’s transformation from a 19th-century penal colony into a cultural center.
Taking a shuttle from the pier, you will soon arrive downtown and begin an enlightening walking tour of Newcastle. The city was founded as a penal colony in 1804 and eventually grew into an industrial center for coal mining and steel manufacturing. Today, Newcastle is undergoing a wide-scale cultural renaissance.
As you make your way through the historical district bordering the Hunter River, you will pass lush parks and several landmarks that reveal Newcastle’s past. Built in 1877, the former Customs House is an especially noteworthy example of Victorian Romanesque architecture and Newcastle’s maritime heritage. It now houses a luxury hotel and several popular restaurants.
The building towers over Watt Street, the city’s oldest thoroughfare, which was built atop a path that the indigenous Awabakal people used before Europeans arrived. The street is named for James Watt, a pioneer in the development of the steam engine that helped fuel the 19th-century Industrial Revolution.
Toward the end of the walking tour, you will have an exterior visit of Christchurch Cathedral, which sits atop a hill overlooking Newcastle. One of Australia’s largest churches, this nearly 200-year-old landmark features more than 70 stained-glass windows and has withstood shelling in World War II and the 1989 earthquake. Following your guided walking tour, you may choose to shuttle directly back to the pier, or remain in town to do some exploring on your own and take a later shuttle.
Please note: This tour includes over 2 1/2 hours of moderate walking/standing that covers approximate 1.5 miles and includes some steps to negotiate. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests and not recommended for those with walking difficulties. Guests should be reasonably good physical condition and able to enter and exit the coach for the shuttle into town with limited assistance. Weather appropriate clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; sunscreen; a bottle of water from the ship; and comfortable, closed-toe (required) walking shoes are recommended.