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. Newcastle is a small-feel friendly town feel with access to all of the services that you might expect.
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 just over 161 million tonnes of coal in 2016.
Beyond the city, the Hunter Region possesses immensely large coal deposits. Geologically, the area is located in the central-eastern part of the Sydney basin.
Newcastle and the lower Hunter Region were traditionally occupied by the Awabakal and Worimi Aboriginal People, who called the area Malubimba.
The Obelisk near King Edward Park, 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. Although extended car access means greenspace expansion is headed west.
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.
Culture and Festivals
Newcastle holds a wide and diverse 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. It is well worth attending.
The 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 international acts, concerts and music events.
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Visual arts and galleries
Notable modernist artists associated with Newcastle are 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.