Newcastle is chic! I've lived in Sydney my whole life and have never been. Only a couple of hours drive away, it's definitely worth visiting - for a weekend, or a week. The city being so closed to the beach has Euro-vibes and there's tonnes to sip and swim.
A super chic revamped terrace in Cooks Hill. Tracey is lovely, accommodating and only a phone call (or email) away and can help you with everything from restaurant recommendations to getting extra towels. The house has three bedrooms, but I stayed with my boyfriend - it was perfect and you feel spoilt with all the space.
There's tonnes of spots to lounge (inside and out), streams of natural light and little details (like the ceramics to have breakfast and coffee, the freshly pressed 'Immunity' juice in the fridge, the different light fixtures around the house and the 5-star-luxe-hotel-soft towels). If you're staying for longer then a weekend it's fully equipped - cheese boards, coffee machine, Netflix and a Sonos speaker. Literally everything you need.
Cooks Hill is like a mini Paddington or Carlton, with beachside vibes. You can walk to the beach, to Darby Street - the local high street, to the Bottlo, Harris Farm, plus cafes and restaurants.
EAT AND DRINK
For THE BEST cold brew that's locally brewed head to Hubro, it's walking distance from Hayes House. They also make 10/10 toasties.
Get ramen and gyoza at Susura in the City. The chilli chicken gyoza is something you'll dream about, and the Sichuan chilli ramen is mouth-numbing in a good way.
Una Volta, started as a pop up but they've stuck around. What makes this Italian different is that on the day of your booking they text you the four course menu - plus it's super affordable, $70 for a really good amount of delicious, fresh food.
There's loads of low-key spots for a chill dinner or a messy post-pub feed, like Le Dynasty Vietnamese - we stumbled home from here (through the community garden) to Hayes House after a fun meal with friends in their courtyard. It's just good old fashioned grub.
Other places to check out from fancy to takeaway-friendly:
There are SO MANY options to grab a drink - whatever your poison.
Other places to add to your booze list:
The wine offering is also so good. The Prince of Merewether's drive through bottlo is so unexpected! They have a huge selection of natty wines, special drops and fridges full of tinnies. Definitely worth a visit.
Aside from eating and drinking, Newcastle has a huge handful of places to swim and surf - Bar Beach, Merewether Beach, Newcastle Beach and sick ocean pools with art deco buildings and lanes for doing laps. Spend all day beach hopping before collapsing into some natty wine and a good feed.
Driving around you'll see so many cute houses, quirky spots like the bowling club and tennis courts - there's tonnes to look at.
There's also great walking spots - Fort Scratchley with views, Nobbys lighthouse and Blackbutt Nature Reserve - there's even the chance you'll see whales, dolphins and coal ships. Plus, loads of markets (a quick Google will help you suss out if they're on).