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Given I am a University of Newcastle alum, it’s safe to say I know a few things about the northern-NSW city. During my three years there, I used my time before, after and in between classes (never during) to check out what Lonely Planet’s top-rated city was all about.

There was more than enough to do and see – enough to make me wish I just bit the bullet and moved there rather than continuing living with my parents, to be honest. But this article isn’t about me, it’s about what’s fondly known as ‘Newy’, so keep reading for reasons you might want to visit, or, you know, hang around for good.

SHOP YOUR LIL’ HEART OUT

I always, always stopped at the huge Salvos in Jesmond on my journey from uni to mum’s on the Central Coast, but Newcastle has a whole lot more to offer than a plethora of truly amazingly priced op shops.

There’s Charlestown Square and Kotara Westfield shopping centres, as well as the famed Darby Street Precinct which is home to clothing boutiques like Cream on Hunter and Abicus, as well as galleries, book and music stores, restaurants and over 25 cafes. The street art and overall vibe basically make Darby Street to Newcastle what King Street is to Newtown.

It wouldn’t be fair of me to wrap up this section without saying something about Newy’s market offering – Hunt&Gather markets on the third Saturday of every month and The Olive Tree Market on the first Saturday of every month (excluding January) are the local favourites.

GET AMONGST THE NIGHTLIFE & MUSIC SCENE

I shouldn’t need to detail this for everyone as Newcastle is well and truly known for its nightlife – with a uni in the area, how could it not be – but here we are and detail I shall.

There’s the usual suspects like King Street Hotel, The Argyle House (what was once known as Fanny’s – yeah, you know the one) and Queens Wharf, as well as a cool little cocktail bar called Coal and Cedar, where you’ve got to send them a text to get let in through a secret door. It really depends what your vibe is.

A music icon is definitely Bar On The Hill at University of Newcastle, with acts like Meg Mac, DZ Deathrays, Yungblud and more having graced the stage there, and The Cambridge is still a go-to for live acts that come through Newcastle.

TAKE IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Anyone who’s ever studied will tell you that getting outside for fresh air is the best way to give your brain a break and chase the mental clarity you might be craving. Newcastle has outdoor opportunities in spades, and being that little bit further up north means the weather is usually pretty darn good.

Merewether’s Bar Beach is a no-brainer, with a Bar Beach Bowling & Sporting club, for post-swim drinks and a round of bowls, closeby. It’s honestly the best way to spend a Sunday in summer, before getting back into the swing of things on a Monday.

Prefer to be a bit more active? There’s a good route from Adamstown to Belmont, called the Fernleigh Track, which you can either ride your bike through or take on by foot. It’s a 15km shared pathway, so the choice is yours. Of course ANZAC Memorial Bridge’s coastal walk is also a doozy, and much shorter, but with 360-degree views over the Pacific Ocean and Hunter Valley.

After spending some time soaking up all Newy has on offer, don’t be too shook if you feel the urge to stick around – like, for good. It is home to University of Newcastle, after all, so if you’re studying or looking into it, it could be a good life decision – they also have strong partnerships with leading local industries, meaning you get the chance to combine your studies with real-world, practical experience and put your skills to good use.

Out with the old, in with the Newy, yeah?

Image: Instagram/ @_hunt.and.gather_, @lozzabee