As Australia’s second oldest city, Newcastle has gone through a raft of transformations over the years. The ‘steel city’ may now have a blossoming reputation as an arts and culture hub, but in days gone by it has served as a penal outpost for the most dangerous of convicts and an industrial centre facing the ravages of WWII.

Today, Newcastle is better known for its relaxed locals and pristine beaches, a city where the working wharves are becoming places of play and the emerging food and coffee scene is enough to make any out-of-towner green with envy. Though the city has changed constantly over its 200-year existence, you’re always guaranteed your visit will be something special when you make the trip to ‘Newy’.

Getting here

BY PLANE: Newcastle Airport is your gateway to TiNA with direct flights from Brisbane, Gold Coast, Ballina/Byron Bay, Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne. Located approximately a 25-minute drive north of Newcastle, you can get to the city by car, shuttle bus, public bus, taxi, rental car, and hire car/limousine. For more info on transport between Newcastle Airport and the CBD, head to www.newcastleairport.com.au.

BY TRAIN: If you’re coming from Sydney, jump on one of the regular Newcastle and Central Coast services, which will get you here from Central Station in a matter of hours. Plan your trip at www.transportinfo.com. If you’re visiting us from up north, Trainlink services run from Brisbane and the Northwest stopping at Broadmeadow. Don’t forget, trains terminate at Hamilton, so you’ll need to grab a bus to get to the city from there.

BY BUS: Hitch a ride on a Greyhound and make the trek to Newcastle by bus from Sydney’s Central Station, Brisbane’s Coach Terminal and Melbourne’s Travel Centre (www.greyhound.com.au). Once in Newy, buses are a breeze, with free travel across the CBD (www.newcastlebuses.info).

Getting around

TWO WHEELS: Newcastle is mostly flat and the venues are pretty close together so you’ll have no problem moving around the festival precinct.

BY TRAIN: If using rail note that trains terminate at Hamilton and no longer run to Wickham, Civic or Newcastle Stations. For timetable information visit sydneytrains.info/timetables and then search Central Coast and Newcastle line. From Hamilton you will need to catch a bus into town.

LOCAL BUS SERVICES: For full timetable of local bus services beyond the free CBD zone, call 131 500 or go to the State Transit website.

FREE CBD BUSES: Jump on Newcastle buses between 7.30am and 6pm and travel free in the CBD. The Fare Zone is indicated by signs on the bus stops, but extends from Newcastle Station to just on the edge of Hamilton. Travel is covered from the beaches, up Darby Street, right along Hunter Street to the backpackers both in Hamilton and Newcastle East.

What else to do?

The Artists’ City Walking Tour: If you’re keen to get out and explore Newcastle for yourself while at TiNA, what better way to do it then a free self-guided walking tour which celebrates the artistic side of the harbour city. Starting at one of the favourite drawing spots of much loved Australian artist Margaret Olley, the tour meanders across the city streets past a number of breathtaking outdoor art installations, before winding up at the Newcastle Art Gallery in Cooks Hill. Go here to find out more about the tour and download a free map.

Beaches: Novocastrians pride themselves on the abundance of amazing beaches that surround our city, with many of them just a stone’s throw away from the CBD. The festival is located within Newcastle East, meaning both Newcastle and Nobbys Beaches are just minutes away on foot.

Newcastle Memorial Walk: Newcastle is a town known for its breathtaking scenery, and what better way to soak it all in then a stroll along the brand new Memorial Walk. Built to commemorate the ANZAC centenary, the walk is part of the Bathers Way, which connects Nobbys Beach in the CBD to Merewether. Providing a 360-degree view of the coast and city, this is one pathway you don’t want to miss.

Looking for more arts and cultural things to do whilst in Newcastle? Check out Culture Hunter, the online arts directory and information hub for the Newcastle and Lower Hunter region.