Newcastle

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Newcastle
Port of Entry
32°55.288'S, 151°46.783'E Chart icon.png
lat=-32.92147 | lon=151.77971 | zoom=13 | y


Newcastle, New South Wales is a former steel milling town which still has a big focus on heavy industry and engineering. Now quite a cosmopolitan city with waterfront cafes, luxury river-side real estate and all the services one could want, it still has a big blue-collar heart. Because of this there are several advantages for the long distance cruising sailor to visit Newcastle, and it's often cheaper and easier to have major boat refit and repair work done here rather than in Sydney or elsewhere in New South Wales.

For example, steel boat owners will find a range of services from steel milling, stainless steel manufacturing, welding and other related services available here with better quality workmanship and lower prices than would be found in Sydney.

Even without major refitting work required, berthing options in Newcastle are easily available, and Newcastle affords the visitor access to some of the best coastal and inland scenery in this part of the world -- not to mention access to the famous Hunter Valley wineries area where one could easily lose oneself for a weekend or longer.

There probably isn't a whole lot of cruising around Newcastle to do, but a daylight sail or cruise around the Hunter River getting a good look at the associated historic buildings, engineering works and other activities along the shore line is certainly worthwhile.

A visit to nearby Port Stephens or Lake Macquarie (for shallower draft vessels) will provide you with a good cruising ground.

Charts

Australian Hydrographic Service
AUS 809 - Port Jackson to Port Stephens
AUS 208 - Newcastle Harbour

See also New South Wales.

Passages

SydneyNewcastlePort StephensPort MacquarieCoffs HarbourBrisbaneLord Howe IslandTasman Sea
About this image
Route From Newcastle - ''Click on name or areas''

Newcastle to from Sydney

This passage can be done most times of the year in a day sail. In the winter the prevailing winds are westerly to south-westerly, making a beam reach up or down the coast a possibility. In the summer months the winds turn northerly to north easterly, with an occasional swing to the north west then south (the "southerly buster" as it's known in the area) meaning that with a wait for the right weather window a reasonable tailwind can be expected to last for the duration of the trip.

See the notes above on Newcastle approaches from the south if you are travelling from Sydney to Newcastle.

Newcastle to/from Port Stephens

This should be a reasonably pleasant daylight hours sail given average weather conditions for most times of the year and a suitable weather window.

Newcastle to/from Lord Howe Island

Along with Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour, Newcastle is one popular alternative jumping-off point for a crossing of the Tasman Sea, with the desired half-way point being Lord Howe Island. Once again waiting for a suitable weather window is preferable, especially in the summer months when this passage is most popular, as the prevailing north-easterly winds are not best suited for a crossing to Lord Howe Island. It's best to wait for a southerly change, especially if you can leave as the wind turns to the south-west, and use this to gain some northing before heading east across the sea.

There are two sea mounts approximately half way between Newcastle and the island, the vicinity of these is best avoided as they can produce some lumpy seas.

The crossing takes between 3 and 6 days depending on the speed of your boat (faster boats and multihulls will of course achieve better speeds), and you can expect some upwind sailing for part of that.

See the notes on the Lord Howe Island page about obtaining a mooring at the island, depending on the time of year reserving one in advance is best advised.

Newcastle to/from Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour or Brisbane

These routes, heading north into the Tasman Sea can be done as day hops or multi-day sails at any time of the year with an appropriate weather window. Note that the south-running East Australian Current can be quite strong especially in the summer months. Although eddies running northwards as well as southwards can be found close to the shore, the current runs most strongly from a point just offshore of Ballina and then due south. Heading northwards it is therefore best to remain close to shore, while a helping current can be found further offshore while travelling south.

Weather

Sources for Weather forecasts:

See also New South Wales.

Islands

None of any significance nearby. The entrance to Port Stephens, about half a day's sail up the coast, has some interesting islands but most are wildlife refuges and landing is prohibited without a permit.

Communication

See New South Wales.

Navigation

Approach to Newcastle via the Hunter River entry is easy day or night. The things to be aware of are
  • Eddies and tidal rips associated with shoals to the south of the southern breakwater.
  • The lights on the southern breakwater that can be confused with similar floating lights nearby. My recent entry indicated that both the C-Map and Navionics charts had these all in the correct location, however the "occulting" lights on the breakwater were only just occulting and were nearly isophase. The only issues this would cause would be at night, the breakwaters being easily visible for some distance away in daylight hours and well marked on all charts.
  • Many big big big ships! Ships carry hundreds of tousands of tonnes of coal each year from Newcastle, with a large ship movement 1 1/2 times per day. Associated with each of the big ships are a plethora of tugs, lighters, pilot and other engineering vessels, all of which are mostly pretty well behaved and so it pays to correctly behave as well (keeping to starboard, carrying the correct lights, respecting the rights of vessels constrained by draft, etc).
Approaching from the south at night, here is what I would do
  • Attain a distance offshore at least as far as 2nm when heading north.
  • At the end of the breakwater you will see a red occulting light. Be aware that this light is on dry land, do not try to round it.
  • To starboard of the breakwater light you will see a red flashing light and a set of white flashing lights. Round the closest in white flashing light leaving it to port, and then round the closest red flashing light, leaving it to port by at least a boat length or two.
  • By this stage observe that the breakwater light will have changed from red occulting to white occulting.
  • You are now in the main Hunter River channel. Beware of ships and pay normal attention to the red and green marker buoys. Entry from here is easy following the lights even in conditions of poor visibility, the channel is wide enough and dredged to over 10 metres for its entire length.
Approach from the north is somewhat easier -- there are no rips or significant breaks present, just head for the lead lights and follow them in.

Entrance

Newcastle is a port of entry for Australia. For details see Entrance: Australia.

The customs office is at Level 2, 28 Honeysuckle Drive, Newcastle NSW 2300. Telephone contacts are as follows:

Office hours: 02 4926 7500
After hours: 0407 401 474
Facsimile: 02 4926 7555

Updated contact details are on this page.

All other check in / check out procedure is as per the Australian Immigration & Customs notes given elsewhere.

Berthing

Marinas & Yacht Clubs

Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club Marina

Newcastle Cruising Club Marina

Newcastle Cruising Club Marina/wiki/Newcastle#Newcastle_Cruising_Club_Marina
Berth icon Newcastle Cruising Club Marina [[Newcastle#Newcastle Cruising Club Marina|Newcastle Cruising Club Marina]] 32°55.268'S, 151°45.721'E
Port of Entry

This is is the premier boating location in Newcastle. It is a modern 180 berth floating marina, NCYC’s facilities are world-class. In addition to long term berths, NCYC caters for short term visitors wanting to berth at NCYC overnight, for a few days or indefinitely. With power and water provided to each berth (including limited 3 phase powered berths), car parking, clean modern amenities and laundrette, and close proximity to shops and transport, NCYC is a great place to drop in for fuel, food and water on your way up and down the coast. It provides 24/7 security card access, a club-house with restaurant and bar, as well as several other restaurants, cafes and bars nearby. According to the posters on the end of the docks, visitors arriving without prior arrangement or late at night are invited to tie up in any vacant berth on Wharf A and contact the dockmaster from there the next morning to arrange a suitable berth. There are no moorings available at the yacht club, only floating berths.

Note: Be aware that the large floating dock shown on most charts (as well as google maps) out the front of the Forgacs yard opposite the marina has been removed. This makes marina entry somewhat simpler.

info@ncyc.net.au; Tel: +61 2 4940 8188; Fax: +61 2 4940 8138; VHF channel XX
Address: 95 Hannell Street (PO BOX 150), Wickham NSW 2293, Australia
Hours: 7 days 8 am to 4 pm
  • I am aware of a sailing club at Stockton. I do not think that they have anchoring space or moorings available. Recon shows a small marina alongside Fullerton St, near the corner of Hereford St. The berths look to be full, and the vessels there do not seem to be of the type that carry a keel. There is a launching ramp there that seems to be capable of taking dinghies only.

Anchorages

I am not aware of any available anchoring space in the lower reaches of the Hunter River (near Newcastle Port) however there may be some further up river.

Amenities

Forcags Shipyard
Facilities
Water Water is available to all berths at the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club marina and included with the berth rental
Electricity 240V AC is available to all berths at the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club marina and included with the berth rental
Toilets In the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club marina
Showers In the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club marina
Laundry There is a coin operated laundry with washing machines and dryers at the marina. Washing powder is available from the yacht club office (hours of which are 9am - 5pm Monday - Friday, so best bring your own for any out of hours washing)
Garbage There are green garbage bins at each arm of the marina, and large yellow recycling bins at the commercial centre at the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club marina
Supplies
Fuel Fuel is available from 8am - 4pm 7 days, at the end of F arm at the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club. Contact the dockmaster in advance for large fuel deliveries (5,000L or more)
Bottled gas ?
Chandlers
  • Whitworths have a store at Unit 5, 31 Griffiths Rd, Lambton. This is about 4km from the NCYC marina
  • East Coast Marine and Sail carries a modest range of safety gear, sailboat hardware and assorted other needs at the commercial centre at the NCYC marina. Just walk around to the non-waterfront side of the building, they are easy to spot
  • For electrical and electronic parts I find it hard to get by without a trip to Jaycar -- there is a Jaycar store at 224 Maitland Rd, Islington, about 1.5km from the marina. If you follow the walk/cycle path that runs north out of the marina all the way around to where it meets Maitland Road (Pacific Highway), you will find it
  • Classic Boat Supplies Accepts online orders. Has a good range of bronze deck hardware and bits for wooden boat repair, epoxy, etc. Australian distributor for Davey & Co.
  • The Boat Warehouse Online-only chandlery that delivers throughout Australia. Has a wide offering from many of the major brands such as Harken, Ronstan and Oceansouth. Will send orders internationally.
  • If you need fasteners, bolts, and other bits of hardware you can find them at Newcastle Hi-Tensile Bolt Company which is a large building on the corner of Elizabeth and Gipps Streets, Carrington. It's about a 20 minute walk or a few minutes bike ride from the marina, follow the same walk / cycle path that runs north out of the marina (about half the distance around to Jaycar), turn right off the cycle path when you cross the large Hannell St bridge and follow the new path around to Elizabeth St. It's a large building, hard to miss. They have an extensive range of fasteners in stock in all grades of steel including 316 stainless, I'm yet to find any fastener in either an imperial or metric thread that they don't have
  • Across the road from the marina is a tools specialist called Blackwoods that carry a wide range of tools and parts -- angle grinders, sanding discs, cutting wheels, hammers, files, hoses & fittings, etc.
  • Minards Diesel are the local Yanmar dealers / distributors. They are in Mayfield West, about 10 minutes drive from the marina
Services
Repairs
  • Forcags Shipyard is one of the the many heavy industrial sites on the Newcastle waterfront
  • Midcoast Boatyard located at the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club is the go-to place for servicing, anti-foul, repairs and maintenance. The hard stand area is available if you want to do your own work (an on-site induction is required, standard safety protocol), or the staff there can organise the work for you. Formerly part of the Noakes network it has been purchased by the new owner, Joe de Kock, the former (staff) manager
Internet Free WiFi is available at the yacht club, but it does not appear to extend out to the berths. Free wi-fi with purchase appears to be available at many of the cafes on Honeysuckle
Mobile connectivity ?
Vehicle rentals
  • Europcar is located almost directly across from the marina. The large green signage is hard to miss

Provisioning

  • The biggest shopping mall near the marina is Marketown which has the usual range of supermarkets, specialty shops, and a small food court. It's about a 15 minute walk from the marina, head towards Wickham station and keep going until you reach King Street, the best entry is on the corner of King St and National Park St.
  • There is a fishermans co-op where fish direct from the boats can be obtained, just at the northern end of the marina. They also do a decent range of cooked fish & chips during the day.
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables are available at the Growers Best markets at the far side of Marketown along Parry St. They also carry a range of long life dry goods such as sprouting seeds, dried beans & lentils, etc.
  • Amongst the eateries at Honeysuckle (20 minutes walk from the marina along the waterfront) there is an IGA grocery. While not carrying the largest range of goods, it is open until 11pm most nights.
  • For the galley gourmet, it's also worth a trip to the Cooks Hill section of Darby Street, where a range of foodie shops can be found. The Essential Ingredient has an outlet there as well as several other stores and a range of cafes and gastro-pubs.

Eating out

At the yacht club itself there is a decent cafe and bar, as well as a Rocksalt restaurant (slightly more upmarket) in the adjoining commercial centre.

The best place to find a range of eateries, cafes, pubs as well as a place to sit and watch the world go by is on Honeysuckle. Exit the marina and walk east along the shoreline about 20 minutes. Currently the walk detours around some construction and a car park, but the local council is in the process of constructing a boardwalk that will run along the entire waterfront from the marina along to Honeysuckle and further. The area is not hard to spot. Some suggestions in that area include:

  • Lobster House
  • Hog's Breath Cafe
  • Movenpick
  • Cold Rock Ice Cream
  • James Squire's tavern
  • Subway

Continuing past Honeysuckle along the waterfront there is Queens Wharf, where an artisan burger bar and a pub serving quite decent beers can be found, as well as a franchise of the iconic Harry's Cafe de Wheels.

In addition, closer to the marina there is the Albion Hotel, just across the road. This serves quite good pub food at reasonable prices.

For anyone wishing to venture further afield, the Hunter Valley region boasts some of the best wineries in Australia, and at least for certain wine ranges produce wines that are highly rated on a world scale. The region is best accessed by car, simply pick up a rental in Newcastle, and head inland to the Cessnock region where you will see many roadside maps, be able to pick up free guide books, etc, to guide you around. Or simply follow the trail of other vehicles around to see what's on offer. The Hunter region is also known for dairy produce, olives and olive oils, etc. There are many restaurants, function centres and a range of accommodation on offer that make it particularly well known as a honeymoon destination.

Transportation

  • Wickham train station is about 5 minutes walk from the marina, with regular connections to Sydney.
  • There are some irregular bus services outside of the marina. Like in most Australian regional centres, the buses appear to be scared of the dark, especially on weekends. The one advantage being that bus services from around the marina into the Newcastle CBD are free (check the signs at the bus stops to determine the limit of the free travel zone).

Tourism

Inner city areas of Newcastle including some yachting and supply stores

History

Give a short history of the port.

Places to Visit

List places of interest, tours, etc.

Friends

Contact details of "Cruiser's Friends" that can be contacted for local information or assistance.

Forums

List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)

Links

References & Publications

See also Australia.

Comments

We welcome users' contributions to the Wiki. Please click on Comments to view other users' comments, add your own personal experiences or recommend any changes to this page following your visit.

Verified by

Date of member's last visit to Newcastle and this page's details validated:

  • Delatbabel, September - November 2013. Stayed at the marina for some refit / repairs as well as fitting out.



This is a usable page of the cruising guide. However, please contribute if you can to help it grow further. Click on Comments to add your personal notes on this page or to discuss its contents. Alternatively, if you feel confident to edit the page, click on the edit tab at the top and enter your changes directly.


SailorSmiley.gifContributors to this page

Names: Haiqu, :Delatbabel


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