Newcastle Harbour is a busy, working harbour, with ships of all kinds traversing its waters. But this has not prevented it being a beautiful centrepiece
for Newcastle. If you watch long enough, you will get the chance to see huge ships being brought into or taken out of the port.
Newcastle is the world's largest coal export port, with coal making up 90 per cent of the tonnage transported through the harbour. It also has a long history, with coal departing the harbour providing the first export of the Colony of New South Wales, a few years after the harbour was first explored by Lieutenant John Shortland in September 1797.
Newcastle Harbour can be enjoyed from the waterfront, from the tip of Nobby's Breakwall to the Honeysuckle Promenade, as well as from the grassy walkways of the Stockton side. A number of vantage points provide great views of the Harbour; atop the Queen's Wharf Tower, Strzelecki Lookout and the Obelisk, both close to King Edward Park, Fort Scratchley and of course the Nobby's Lighthouse grounds (open Sundays) to name a few. If you are looking to dine with harbour views, Honeysuckle or Queen's Wharf is the place to go.
If you want to get out on the harbour, tours are available with two companies operating out of Honeysuckle. Nova Cruises (www.novacruises.com.au) offer various whale watching and river cruises, while Moonshadow Cruises (www.moonshadow.com.au) also operate a wide variety of cruises.
The cheaper, easier option for getting out on the harbour, be it briefly, is to hop on the Stockton Ferry. On the Newcastle side, the ferry departs from Queen's Wharf. The trip across the harbour takes approximately 5 minutes with the ferry departing each wharf at 20-30 minute intervals. The service operates between 5:30am and midnight Monday-Saturday, and 8:30am to 10pm Sunday. If you choose to get off on the Stockton side you can walk along the harbour front and savour the views of Newcastle back across the harbour.
If you're very adventurous you might want to book a helicopter joy-flight and take in the views from on high.