Newcastle is a vibrant, historic and colourful beach-side city, located two hours north of Sydney. It is the major metropolis of the Hunter region, gateway to the Hunter Valley wine region and Australia’s sixth largest city.
Newcastle’s European settlement was the result of an accident when, in 1797, Lieutenant Shortland landed there during a search for convicts who had escaped from the penal colony of Sydney. It is believed that several years prior to this, escaped convict Mary Bryant, together with her husband, two children and a number of others landed in the region and discovered coal.
The coal industry saw Newcastle quickly develop and by 1799 enough was being mined to export. By 1804, a permanent penal colony was established and industrial growth continued. In fact, Newcastle provided a regular supply of coal, timber and lime to Sydney to help maintain its rapid development. Over the next 20 years the colony started to change. Buildings were constructed and streets laid out. This pattern of industrialisation and adaptation to needs and circumstances set the tone for Newcastle’s future. In the 20th century major heavy industries such as ship building and train manufacturing were established. However, in the later years of the 20th century heavy industry started to wind down and the steel works closed completely. New industries and a renewed energy have replaced these and the city has found an identity beyond that of a manufacturing powerhouse.