Newcastle, New South Wales facts for kids

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Newcastle
New South Wales
Newcastle view.jpg
Central Newcastle in 2007, viewed from Stockton, across the harbour.
The location of Newcastle in New South Wales
Population: 308308
Density: 1103/km² (2,856.8/sq mi)
Established: 1804
Elevation: 9 m (30 ft)
Area: 261.8 km² (101.1 sq mi)
Time zone:

 • Summer (DST)

AEST (UTC+10)

AEDT (UTC+11)

Location: 162 km (101 mi) NNE of Sydney
Region: Hunter
County: Northumberland
State District:
  • Newcastle
  • Cessnock, Charlestown
  • Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens
  • Swansea, Wallsend
Federal Division:
Mean Max Temp Mean Min Temp Annual Rainfall
21.8 °C
71 °F
14.2 °C
58 °F
1,133.0 mm
44.6 in

The Newcastle /ˈnjˌkɑːsəl/ metropolitan area is the second most populated area in the Australian state of New South Wales and includes most of the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie local government areas. It is the hub of the Greater Newcastle area which includes most parts of the local government areas of City of Newcastle, City of Lake Macquarie, City of Cessnock, City of Maitland and Port Stephens Council.

Located 162 kilometres (101 mi) north-northeast of Sydney, at the mouth of the Hunter River, it is the predominant city within the Hunter Region. Famous for its coal, Newcastle is the largest coal exporting harbour in the world, exporting 154.45 million tonnes of coal in 2013–14. Beyond the city, the Hunter Region possesses large coal deposits. Geologically, the area is located in the central-eastern part of the Sydney basin.

History

Captain John Shortland
Lieutenant John Shortland, the first European to explore the Newcastle region.

Aboriginal history

Newcastle and the lower Hunter Region were traditionally occupied by the Awabakal and Worimi Aboriginal People, who called the area Malubimba.

European settlement

See also: Dangar Grid

In September 1797 Lieutenant John Shortland became the first European settler to explore the area. His discovery of the area was largely accidental; as he had been sent in search of a number of convicts who had seized HMS Cumberland as she was sailing from Sydney Cove. While returning, Lt. Shortland entered what he later described as "a very fine river", which he named after New South Wales' Governor John Hunter. He returned with reports of the deep-water port and the area's abundant coal. Over the next two years, coal mined from the area was the New South Wales colony's first export.

Newcastle gained a reputation as a "hellhole" as it was a place where the most dangerous convicts were sent to dig in the coal mines as harsh punishment for their crimes. By the start of the 19th century the mouth of the Hunter River was being visited by diverse groups of men, including coal diggers, timber-cutters, and more escaped convicts. Philip Gidley King, the Governor of New South Wales from 1800, decided on a more positive approach to exploit the now obvious natural resources of the Hunter Valley. In 1801, a convict camp called King's Town (named after Governor King) was established to mine coal and cut timber. In the same year, the first shipment of coal was dispatched to Sydney. This settlement closed less than a year later.

Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral still dominates the skyline of Newcastle.

A settlement was again attempted in 1804, as a place of secondary punishment for unruly convicts. The settlement was named Coal River, also Kingstown and then renamed Newcastle, after England's famous coal port. The name first appeared by the commission issued by Governor King on 15 March 1804 to Lieutenant Charles Menzies of the marine detachment on HMS Calcutta, then at Port Jackson, appointing him superintendent of the new settlement. The new settlement, comprising convicts and a military guard, arrived at the Hunter River on 27 March 1804 in three ships: HMS Lady Nelson, the Resource and the James. The convicts were rebels from the 1804 Castle Hill convict rebellion. The link with Newcastle upon Tyne, England its namesake and also whence many of the 19th century coal miners came, is still obvious in some of the place-names – such as Jesmond, Hexham, Wickham, Wallsend and Gateshead. Morpeth, New South Wales is a similar distance north of Newcastle as Morpeth, Northumberland is north of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Under Captain James Wallis, commandant from 1815 to 1818, the convicts' conditions improved, and a building boom began. Captain Wallis laid out the streets of the town, built the first church of the site of the present Christ Church Anglican Cathedral, erected the old gaol on the seashore, and began work on the breakwater which now joins Nobbys Head to the mainland. The quality of these first buildings was poor, and only (a much reinforced) breakwater survives. During this period, in 1816, the oldest public school in Australia was built in East Newcastle.

Newcastle remained a penal settlement until 1822, when the settlement was opened up to farming. As a penal colony, the military rule was harsh, especially at Limeburners' Bay, on the inner side of Stockton peninsula. There, convicts were sent to burn oyster shells for making lime. Military rule in Newcastle ended in 1823. Prisoner numbers were reduced to 100 (most of these were employed on the building of the breakwater), and the remaining 900 were sent to Port Macquarie.

Civilian government and onwards

See also: Shelling of Newcastle
Hunter St West, Newcastle, 1908
A parade of mounted soldiers along Hunter Street West, c. 1908
Sixty-miler
Typical 'sixty-miler' enters the harbour in ballast for a load of coal, 1923.

After removal of the last convicts in 1823, the town was freed from the infamous influence of the penal law. It began to acquire the aspect of a typical Australian pioneer settlement, and a steady flow of free settlers poured into the hinterland.

The formation during the nineteenth century of the Newcastle and Hunter River Steamship Company saw the establishment of regular steamship services from Morpeth and Newcastle with Sydney. The company had a fleet of freighters as well as several fast passenger vessels, including the PS Newcastle and the PS Namoi. The Namoi had first-class cabins with the latest facilities.

Because of the coal supply, small ships plied between Newcastle and Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide, carrying coal to gas works and bunkers for shipping, and railways. These were commonly known as "sixty-milers", referring to the nautical journey between Newcastle and Sydney. These ships continued in service until recent times.

1920s to present

A tram halts outside the AMP building at the eastern end of Hunter Street, 1947. Buses later replaced the trams.
A bustling Hunter Street, 1968.
George Lambert - Newcastle, 1925
Newcastle (1925), oil on canvas, by George Washington Lambert
Princess of Tasmania
The MS Princess of Tasmania prior to being launched at the State Dockyard in November 1958

During World War II, Newcastle was an important industrial centre for the Australian war effort. In the early hours of 8 June 1942, the Japanese submarine I-21 briefly shelled Newcastle. Among the areas hit within the city were dockyards, the steel works, Parnell Place in the city's East End, the breakwall and Art Deco ocean baths. There were no casualties in the attack and damage was minimal.

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 largest coal export port and Australia's oldest and second largest tonnage throughput port, with over 3,000 shipping movements handling cargo of 95.8 Mt per annum, of which coal exports represented 90.8 Mt in 2008–09. The volume of coal exported, and attempts to increase coal exports, are opposed by environmental groups.

Newcastle had a shipbuilding industry with the Walsh Island Dockyard and Engineering Works, State Dockyard and Forgacs Shipyard. In recent years the only major ship-construction contract awarded to the area was the construction of the Huon-class minehunters. The era of extensive heavy industry passed when the steel works closed in 1999. Many of the remaining manufacturing industries have located themselves well away from the city itself.

Newcastle has one of the oldest theatre districts in Australia. Victoria Theatre on Perkins Street is the oldest purpose-built theatre in the country. The theatre district that occupied the area around what is now the Hunter Street Mall vanished during the 1940s. The old city centre has seen some new apartments and hotels built in recent years, but the rate of commercial and retail occupation remains low while alternate suburban centres have become more important. The CBD itself is shifting to the west, towards the major urban renewal area known as "Honeysuckle". This renewal, to run for another 10 years, is a major part of arresting the shift of business and residents to the suburbs. Commercial renewal has been accompanied by cultural renaissance. There is a vibrant arts scene in the city including a highly regarded art gallery, and an active Hunter Writers' Centre. Recent fictional representations (for example Antoinette Eklund's 'Steel River') present a new vision of the city, using the city's historic past as a backdrop for contemporary fiction.

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, the 1890s Longworth Institute (once regarded as the finest building in the colony) and the 1930s art deco University House (formerly NESCA House, seen in the film Superman Returns).

Geography

Obelisk - Macquarie Pier - Newcastle NSW (5619925515)
Obelisk marking the start of Macquarie Pier, which was started in 1818 to join Coal Island (now Nobbys Head) to the mainland.

Newcastle is on the southern bank of the Hunter River mouth. The northern side is dominated by sand dunes, swamps and multiple river channels. A "green belt" protecting plant and wildlife flanks the city from the west (Watagan mountains) around to the north where it meets the coast just north of Stockton. Urban development is mainly restricted to the hilly southern bank. The small town of Stockton sits opposite central Newcastle at the river mouth and is linked by ferry. Road access between Stockton and central Newcastle is via the Stockton Bridge, a distance of 20 km (12 mi). 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.

Climate

Newcastle has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa), typical to the Australian east coast. Precipitation is heaviest in late autumn and early winter.

Climate data for Newcastle
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 42.5
(108.5)
43.4
(110.1)
39.0
(102.2)
36.8
(98.2)
28.5
(83.3)
26.1
(79)
26.3
(79.3)
29.9
(85.8)
34.4
(93.9)
36.7
(98.1)
41.0
(105.8)
42.0
(107.6)
43.4
(110.1)
Average high °C (°F) 25.6
(78.1)
25.4
(77.7)
24.7
(76.5)
22.8
(73)
20.0
(68)
17.5
(63.5)
16.7
(62.1)
18.0
(64.4)
20.2
(68.4)
22.1
(71.8)
23.5
(74.3)
24.9
(76.8)
21.8
(71.2)
Average low °C (°F) 19.2
(66.6)
19.3
(66.7)
18.3
(64.9)
15.3
(59.5)
12.0
(53.6)
9.7
(49.5)
8.4
(47.1)
9.2
(48.6)
11.4
(52.5)
14.0
(57.2)
16.1
(61)
18.0
(64.4)
14.2
(57.6)
Record low °C (°F) 12.0
(53.6)
10.3
(50.5)
11.1
(52)
7.4
(45.3)
4.7
(40.5)
3.0
(37.4)
1.8
(35.2)
3.3
(37.9)
5.0
(41)
6.5
(43.7)
7.2
(45)
11.0
(51.8)
1.8
(35.2)
Precipitation mm (inches) 88.4
(3.48)
107.9
(4.248)
119.7
(4.713)
116.0
(4.567)
117.3
(4.618)
117.1
(4.61)
94.6
(3.724)
73.6
(2.898)
72.5
(2.854)
72.9
(2.87)
70.5
(2.776)
81.1
(3.193)
1,133.0
(44.606)
Humidity 72 74 72 66 64 63 59 56 59 64 68 71 66
Avg. precipitation days 11.1 11.2 12.4 12.3 12.6 12.3 11.2 10.5 10.0 10.9 10.8 10.6 135.9
Source: Bureau of Meteorology

Demographics

The metropolitan area of Newcastle is the second most populous area in New South Wales, and includes most of the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie local government areas as well as Fern Bay, a southern suburb of Port Stephens Council. At the 2011 census it had a population of 308,308. As of 30 June 2009 the population of the city of Newcastle itself was estimated to be 154,777 while Lake Macquarie was actually larger with a population of 199,277.

Newcastle is often quoted as being the seventh largest city in Australia. This is misleading as the area represented extends well beyond both the City of Newcastle and the Newcastle metropolitan area. The area, officially the Newcastle Statistical District, is referred to as Greater Newcastle or the Lower Hunter Region, which includes most parts of the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Cessnock, Maitland and Port Stephens local government areas and, as of 30 June 2009, has an estimated population of 540,796. Despite their proximity, all of the LGAs in the region maintain their own individual identities, separate from Newcastle. Newcastle remains the regional hub for most services.

The demonym for the people of Newcastle is "Novocastrian".

Domestic architecture

Buildings

A heritage area to the east of the Central Business District, centred on Christ Church Cathedral, has many Victorian terrace houses.

Examples of domestic architecture in Newcastle
Victorian terrace streetscape
Rare weatherboard terrace houses
Modern "sympathetic" development
Honeysuckle Lee Wharf modern development

Structures

Notable structures in Newcastle include the Queens Wharf Tower and the recently completed ANZAC Walk.

The ANZAC Walk, looking towards Merewether and the outer suburbs

Culture

Festivals

Newcastle holds a variety of cultural events and festivals.

The Newcastle Regional Show is held in the Newcastle Showground annually. There are a mixture of typical regional show elements such as woodchopping displays, showbags, rides and stalls and usually fireworks to complement the events in the main arena.

The Mattara festival, founded in 1961, is the official festival of Newcastle with a more traditional 'country fair' type program that combines a parade, rides, sporting events, band competitions and portrait and landscape painting exhibitions.

The Newcastle Jazz Festival is held across three days in August, and attracts performers and audiences from all over Australia.

The Shoot Out 24 Hour Filmmaking Festival, first started in Newcastle in 1999. This is the film festival where film-makers come together in one place to make a short film in 24 hours. It is run annually in July.

This Is Not Art is a national festival of new media and arts held in Newcastle each year over the October long weekend. Since its humble beginnings in 1998, it has become one of the leading arts festivals in Australia dedicated to the work and ideas of communities not included in other major Australian arts festivals. The umbrella program includes the independent festivals Electrofringe, the National Young Writers' Festival, Critical Animals, Sound Summit, Crack Theatre Festival and other projects that vary from year to year.

The Newcastle Entertainment Centre, located inside the Newcastle Showground is a popular venue for regular events including wrestling, concerts and monster truck shows.

Music

Newcastle has an active youth music culture, as well as a Conservatorium of Music which is part of the University of Newcastle. It continues to support local bands and has a large underground music scene. The members of Silverchair, the highly successful Australian band, hail from Newcastle, as does the Australian band The Screaming Jets. It has a fertile punk rock and hardcore scene, which has spawned successful local acts and national acts. Newcastle was also home to the shortlived band Velvet Underground which featured future AC/DC guitarist Malcolm Young

Visual arts and galleries

Notable modernist artists associated with Newcastle are seascape sketcher Shay Docking (1928–1998), the cubist influenced abstract painter William Rose (1929–1999), landscape painter John Olsen, who was born in Newcastle in 1928, still- life painter Margaret Olley, portraitist William Dobell and figurative painter John Montefiore lived at Lake Macquarie to the south of the city. Art collector William Bowmore resided in Newcastle and collected Brett Whiteley paintings as well as owning a large collection of international art and artefacts. The Von Bertouch Galleries was a commercial gallery founded by Anne Von Bertouch and exhibited nationally and locally well known artists .

The Newcastle Art Gallery is home to one of Australia's most substantial public art collections outside a major capital city, and its extensive collection of works by contemporary and historical Australian visual artists presents an overview of Australian art. Due to an ongoing space issue, the gallery is planning a major redevelopment.

Theatre

Newcastle has a variety of smaller theatres, but the main theatre in the CBD is now the Civic, at Wheeler Place, (seating capacity about 1500), one of Australia's great historic theatres built during 1929 in Art Deco style. It hosts a wide range of musicals, plays, concerts, dance and other events each year. Newcastle previously boasted several large theatres, among them the oldest purpose-built theatre in Australia, the Victoria Theatre on Perkins Street (built 1876, capacity 1750), saw touring international opera companies such as the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, and other troupes, and played host to some of the greatest stars of the age, such as Dame Nellie Melba, Gladys Moncrieff, and Richard Tauber, (it is now closed and derelict); the Century, Nineways, Broadmeadow, (built 1941, capacity 1800) although largely used as a cinema was a popular Symphony orchestra venue (demolished 1990 after being severely damaged by the 1989 earthquake); the Hunter (capacity 1000) at The Junction, had advanced modern stage facilities, but was eventually sold and demolished to make way for a motel that was destroyed by the 1989 earthquake. The decline in theatres and cinemas from the 1960s onwards was blamed on television.

Newcastle has also been home to noted Australian actors, comedians and entertainers, including Sarah Wynter, John Doyle (part of comic act Roy and HG), Susie Porter, Celia Ireland, Yahoo Serious and Jonathan Biggins. The cast of the Tap Dogs show also come from Newcastle.

Media arts

Newcastle is home to the Octapod Association, a New Media Arts collective established in 1996. Octapod presents the annual This Is Not Art Festival and is also home to the Podspace Gallery.

Museums

The Newcastle Museum was founded in 1988 in the former headquarters of the Great Northern Railway and stewards local history, culture, industry, and science. It features permanent exhibitions relating to coal mining and steel production, aboriginal history and the area's history, as well as a hands-on science center.

Transport

Newcastle vista
Newcastle skyline, looking across from Stockton

Like most major cities, the Newcastle metropolitan area has an extensive system of both road links and road based public transport services (bus, taxi etc.) which cover most areas of both Newcastle and Lake Macquarie and which extend beyond the metropolitan area itself. Rail transport, however, is accessible to only a relatively small percentage of the population along the major rail transport routes and ferry services are restricted to those commuting between Newcastle and Stockton. Within the metropolitan area the car remains the dominant form of transportation. At the time of the 2001 Census, less than 4% of the population caught public transport, of which around 2.5% travelled by bus and 1% used the train or ferry to commute to work. Newcastle, like all major Australian urban centres, had a tram system, but it was closed in 1950. In 2014 it was announced that trams would return to the city as a modern light rail system.

Road

Newcastle is connected to surrounding cities by the Pacific Motorway (South), Hunter Expressway (West), New England Highway (West) and the Pacific Highway (North and South). Hunter Street, the main shopping street in the Newcastle CBD, is the major link to the Pacific Highway from the CBD.

Bus

NewcastleBusInterchange
Newcastle's City Bus Interchange

Bus services within Newcastle are operated by Newcastle Buses & Ferries, a subsidiary of the State Transit Authority. Trips within a designated area of the Newcastle CBD on State Transit-operated bus services are fare-free under the Newcastle Alliance's Free City Buses programme. Hunter Valley Buses, Port Stephens Coaches and Rover Coaches also operate services into the CBD from other parts of the Hunter Region.

The network radiates from a bus terminal near Newcastle railway station, on the waterfront of Newcastle's CBD. Major interchanges are located at the University of Newcastle, Wallsend, Glendale, Warners Bay, Belmont, Charlestown Square, Westfield Kotara and Broadmeadow station. Shortly after the train line closure after Hamilton station, (for trains heading towards Newcastle Railway Station) Newcastle State Transit buses (Route 110) replaced trains from Hamilton station going to Civic station and Newcastle Railway station, where the 110 bus then terminates and returns to Hamilton station.

Greyhound Australia, Premier Motor Service and Sid Fogg's long distance services serve Newcastle.

Newcastle State Transit Bustech Volvo B7RLE bus
A Newcastle State Transit Volvo B7RLE bodied Bustech bus operating the Hamilton shuttle route in 2016.

Rail

NewcastleRailwayStation1
Newcastle station

The Newcastle area is serviced by two NSW TrainLink intercity lines providing local and regional commuter services from Hamilton after the closure of the Newcastle line. The Central Coast & Newcastle Line has twice-hourly train services to Sydney and the Central Coast. The Hunter Line has twice-hourly services to Maitland and less frequently to Scone and Dungog. Two long distance lines operate through the Newcastle area using Broadmeadow station. These provide services to Moree, Armidale, Brisbane and Sydney.

Newcastle once had rail passenger services to Belmont and Toronto, on Lake Macquarie, Wallsend, Kurri Kurri and several towns and villages between Maitland and Cessnock on the South Maitland Railway, but these lines have been closed. In the late-1990s there was intense debate about the future of the rail line into central Newcastle. The New South Wales government had planned to cut the line at Broadmeadow station, ending rail services into Newcastle station in the city centre to allow better connections between the city and the waterfront precinct. This proposal was dropped in 2006.

The proposal to close the line was reactivated and in December 2014, the Newcastle line was curtailed to Hamilton. A new Newcastle Interchange will be built from where the Newcastle Light Rail line will operate.

From 1924 until 1994, Broadmeadow Locomotive Depot was the main railway centre for the Hunter region. Cardiff Locomotive Workshops opened in 1928, primarily as a major repair centre for New South Wales Government Railways locomotives, although it did build twelve 38 class and two 58 class locomotives. Today it is operated by Downer Rail and along with UGL Rail's Broadmeadow plant, remains active as a locomotive and rolling stock manufacturer and repairer.

Water

StocktonFerry1
The Stockton Ferry

The Port of Newcastle is crucial to the economic life of Newcastle and the Hunter Valley region beyond. Over 90 million tonnes of coal is shipped through the facility each year – making it the largest coal exporting port in the world. The Port of Newcastle claims to be Australia's first port. Coal was first exported from the harbour in 1799.

Newcastle Buses & Ferries operates a ferry service across the Hunter River between Newcastle's CBD and Stockton.

Air

Newcastle Airport is located 15 km (9 mi) north of the Newcastle CBD (27 km (17 mi) by road). The airport, which is a joint venture between Newcastle City Council and Port Stephens Council, has experienced rapid growth since 2000 as a result of an increase in low cost airline operations. The airport is located at RAAF Base Williamtown, a Royal Australian Air Force base on land leased from the Department of Defence.

Newcastle Heliport operates alongside the lower section of Newcastle Harbour.

The suburb of Broadmeadow is home to the base of the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service. The Helicopter service is one of the longest running services of this type in the world. Two helicopters operate out of this base and operate 24 hours a day.

The closure of Belmont Airport, commonly referred to as Aeropelican, in the Lake Macquarie suburb of Marks Point has caused Williamtown to become Newcastle's only major airport and residents in the south of the Newcastle metropolitan area must commute up to 55 km (34 mi) by car to reach Williamtown.

Twin towns – Sister cities

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