The Newcastle 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.
|TIME ZONE :|| AEST (UTC+10)|
• Summer (DST) AEDT (UTC+11)
|AREA :||261.8 km2 (101.1 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||9 m (30 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||32°55′S 151°45′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49,80%|
• Female: 50,20%
|AREA CODE :||2|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+61 2|
Newcastle is at the mouth of the Hunter River, approximately 150 km north of Sydney in the Hunter region of New South Wales, Australia. The city is the focal point for the diverse Hunter region that encompasses beaches and mountains, restaurants and wineries.
Newcastle is a great place for surfers, wine buffs, bush walkers, and anyone interested in Australian history. The second largest city in the state of NSW and sixth largest in Australia, Newcastle city had a population of 153,000 and the suburban area of over 500,000. Similar to its English namesake, Newcastle was an important centre for the coal mining and iron ore industries. Newcastle is Australia's oldest sea port, currently the second most important in the country in terms of overall tonnage, and significant for coal exports.
Many Novocastrians take an avid interest in sports, as participants, spectators or both. The local NRL Rugby League team, the Newcastle Knights are widely followed. Newcastle also hosts soccer, baseball, ice hockey, netball and various other sporting teams. Hunter New England Health and The University of Newcastle are the city's primary employers.
To the north is Stockton beach with miles and miles of uninhabited beaches that stretch up to Nelson bay. The wreck of the Signa can be seen from Fort Scratchley, which was Newcastle's maritime defence during the world wars. Travel westward to the wineries and taste some of Australia's best wines. Barrington Tops National Park in the north west has beautiful fresh water rivers and rain forests, a good place to spot a platypus.
- Newcastle Visitor Information Centre, Honeysuckle Wharf, , e-mail: [email protected]. M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa-Su 10AM-3PM.
Newcastle and the lower Hunter Region were traditionally occupied by the Awabakal and Worimi Aboriginal People, who called the area Malubimba.
Founding and settlement by Europeans
In September 1797 Lieutenant John Shortland became the first European 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.
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 detachmenton 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 Resourceand 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
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 PSNewcastle and the PS Namoi. TheNamoi 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
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 Dockyardand 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 oldCustoms House, the 1920s City Hall, the 1890s Longworth Institute (once regarded as the finest building in the colony) and the 1930s art decoUniversity House (formerly NESCA House, seen in the film Superman Returns).
Newcastle has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa), typical to the Australian east coast. Summers tend to be warm and at times humid, winters are generally mild. Precipitation is heaviest in late autumn and early winter.
Climate data for Newcastle
|Record high °C (°F)||42.5|
|Average high °C (°F)||25.6|
|Average low °C (°F)||19.2|
|Record low °C (°F)||12.0|
|Source: Bureau of Meteorology|
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.
19th and early 20th centuries
Coal mining began in earnest on 3 May 1833 when the Australian Agricultural Company received land grants at Newcastle plus a 31-year monopoly on that town's coal traffic. Other collieries were within a 16 km (10 mi) radius of the town. Principal coal mines were located at Stockton, Tighes Hill, Carrington and the Newcastle Coal and Copper Company's collieries at Merewether (includes the Glebe), Wallsend and the Waratah collieries. All operations had closed by the early 1960s.
On 10 December 1831 the Australian Agricultural Company officially opened Australia's first railway, at the intersection of Brown & Church Streets, Newcastle. Privately owned and operated to service the A Pit coal mine, it was a cast-iron fishbelly rail on an inclined plane as a gravitational railway.
In the 1850s, a major copper smelting works was established at Burwood, near Merewether. An engraving of this appeared in the Illustrated London News on 11 February 1854. The English and Australian Copper Company built another substantial works at Broadmeadow circa 1890, and in that decade the Cockle Creek Smelter was built.
The largest factory of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere was constructed in 1885, on a 8.9 ha (22-acre) site between the suburbs of Tighes Hill and Port Waratah, by Charles Upfold, from London, for his Sydney Soap and Candle Company, to replace a smaller factory in Wickham. Their soap products won 17 medals at International Exhibitions. At the Sydney International Exhibition they won a bronze medal "against all-comers from every part of the world", the only first prize awarded for soap and candles. Following World War I the company was sold to Messrs Lever & Kitchen (today Unilever), and the factory closed in the mid-1930s.
In 1911, BHP chose the city as the site for its steelworks due to the abundance of coal. The land put aside was prime real estate, on the southern edge of the harbour. In 1915, the BHP steelworks opened, beginning a period of some 80 years dominating the steel works and heavy industry. As Mayfield and the suburbs surrounding the steelworks declined in popularity because of pollution, the steelworks thrived, becoming the region's largest employer.
Economic decline, increase in unemployment and return to stability
Newcastle as a traditional area of heavy industry was not immune from the effects of economic downturns since the 1970s. These downturns were particularly hard hitting for heavy industry which was particularly prevalent in Newcastle. The early 1990s recession caused significant job losses across Australia and the Newcastle LGA experienced a peak unemployment rate of 17% in February 1993, compared to 12.1% in NSW and 11.9% across Australia. As Australia recovered from the early 1990s recession, the economy of Newcastle did too and the jobless rate rapidly fell. However, it consistently remained above that of NSW.
In 1999, the steelworks closed after 84 years operation and had employed about 50,000 in its existence, many for decades. The closure of the BHP steelworks occurred at a time of strong economic expansion in Australia. At the time of the closure and since the closure Newcastle experienced a significant amount of economic diversification which has strengthened the local economy. Despite this, the closure caused a deterioration of the employment situation in Newcastle where the unemployment rate rose rapidly to almost 12% from under 9% at the previous trough just prior to the closure.
Since 2003, Australia experienced the effects of the 2000s commodities boom as commodities prices for major export good such as coal and iron ore rose significantly. This provided a large incentive for investment in the Newcastle and Hunter region due to its status as a major coal mining and export hub to Asian markets. Large projects related to the coal industry helped to propel the Newcastle unemployment rate to 20 year lows and allow the Newcastle region to weather the effects of the late 2000s recession better than NSW as a whole. As of 2009 the two largest single employers are the Hunter New England Area Health Service and the University of Newcastle. The National Stock Exchange of Australia(formerly Newcastle Stock Exchange) is based in the city.