Newcastle Shoreline Walk

Free printed maps are available at the Newcastle Museum or the Visitor Information Centre located at the Maritime Centre both located in the Honeysuckle precinct.

 

Heavy Walk – 3hr / 3.2km

Explore Newcastle’s maritime and surf culture through a self-guided walking tour of the city.

With its spectacular harbour and coastline, the Pacific Ocean has always played an important part in Novocastrian’s work and leisure.

Explore the city through its relationship with the shoreline. Visit places that once formed a crucial part of Newcastle’s working harbour and maritime culture. Enjoy the city’s spectacular coastline and discover places that Novocastrians have been visiting for generations to swim, relax and play.

This walking tour begins on the Newcastle Foreshore, at the viewing spot for Destiny, a sculpture that commemorates Newcastle’s role as a commercial port. It concludes at the Newcastle Memorial Walk, a spectacular walk that offers 360 degree views of the city and its coastline.

Click here to download the map.

Click here to download the full brochure and map.

Introduction

Please click here to listen to the audio introduction of this tour.

1. Destiny

Julie Squires’ sculpture Destiny was commissioned in 1999 to commemorate 200 years of commercial shipping operations in the port of Newcastle.

Located on the former State Dockyard site at Dyke Point, Destiny was inspired by the traditional figure heads on the bows of sailing ships, believed to protect and guide ships. This contemporary form symbolises the spirit of the future: Destiny steps forward confidently yet protects and nurtures the past. She stands atop a globe and draws strength from the earth, and the strands of her hair represent the seven seas.

Please click here to listen to the audio for this part of the tour.

2. Newcastle Mercantile Marine Memorial

This memorial is dedicated to the memory of all merchant mariners lost in times of war.

During World War II the sea was a crucial transport route, bringing resources into and taking completed products out of Newcastle. Japanese submarines operated along the East Coast of Australia during 1942 and 1943. They sank 18 vessels and attacked another 15, killing 277 merchant mariners and 223 medical personnel.

The crews of two ships with strong Newcastle connections are remembered here. The S.S. Iron Chieftain and the S.S. Iron Knight, both owned by BHP and crewed largely by local men, were both sunk with loss of life by enemy action. The Iron Knight was torpedoed by Japanese Submarine I-21, the same sub that shelled Newcastle in June 1942.

Please click here to listen to the audio for this part of the tour.

3. Customs House

The Newcastle Customs House was designed in the Italianate Renaissance Revival Style by New South Wales Colonial Architect James Barnet in 1877. On top of the clock tower is a Time Ball.

Up until the Second World War the Time Ball would fall and Fort Scratchley would fire a gun at precisely 1pm. This practice was carried out in ports around the world during the 19th century to allow ships’ masters to adjust their navigation instruments.

The Time Ball has since been refurbished and still marks time daily above the Customs House. The Fort Scratchley Historic Society has refurbished a replica field gun that is fired daily at 1pm to keep this significant maritime tradition alive.

Please click here to listen to the audio for this part of the tour.

4. Queens Wharf

In 1858, work began on the first major government structure along the Newcastle foreshore for berthing ships and loading coal. This became known as Queens Wharf. It was 1240ft long by 1861.

The exchange sidings of the Great Northern Railway ran parallel to the wharf, and coal from all over the region was transported in wooden hoppers to this point. A row of steam cranes would lift the bodies of the wagons out of their frames to be emptied into the holds of the waiting ships.

As expansive loading facilities opened around Carrington and Stockton, Queens Wharf ended its days as a loading point for wool and general cargo. It was demolished in the 1960s.

Please click here to listen to the audio for this part of the tour.

5. Tugboats

After Queens Wharf was demolished four smaller berths were constructed along Wharf Road for Newcastle’s Tugs. The first tugboat to arrive in Newcastle was the Huntress in 1854. Underpowered and overpriced, ships refused to use her and she left Newcastle within a year. More powerful tugs soon arrived and fierce competition emerged between the rival boats for towing jobs and salvage opportunities.

Tugs of all shapes and sizes have called Newcastle home. One of the most famous was the Champion. Built in 1895 for local mining magnate John Brown, she was not only one of Australia’s most powerful tugs, but also its most luxurious. Lavishly decorated and fitted with a piano, she was often chartered to take her owner and his guests on deep sea fishing trips. She sank at anchor in the harbour in 1954 under suspicious circumstances.

The harbour’s modern fleets of tugs now dock further up river and carry on the long tradition of safely guiding ships into Newcastle Harbour.

Please click here to listen to the audio for this part of the tour.

6. Boat Harbour – Newcastle Pilot Station

Newcastle is a very busy port, with 4600 shipping movements per year. The Port of Newcastle is a compulsory pilotage port, which means that a ship’s pilot, employed and certified by Newcastle Port Corporation, is transferred to all ships entering and exiting the harbour.

Pilots provide advice to the ships’ masters (captains) to assist vessels arriving and departing from the port. The marine pilot takes charge of the conduct of the navigation of the vessel while the master retains command of the vessel. About 80% of Marine Pilot transfers to and from ships are completed by helicopter, the remaining 20% being by pilot cutter vessels, which are often berthed here.

Please click here to listen to the audio for this part of the tour.

7. The Lifeboat

For 136 years the Newcastle Lifeboat Service went to the aid of the crews and passengers of vessels in danger. The first lifeboat arrived in Newcastle in 1838. The NSW government did not finance a full time lifeboat service in any port and as a result, the crew of the Newcastle lifeboat was made up of volunteers from the harbour department, dredge service and customs service. The volunteer crew received little or no payment and were uninsured for their dangerous task.

During the service’s long history the lifeboats responded to hundreds of distress calls and saved thousands of lives. From the 1860s onwards, the boats were stored here at the pilot station. Newcastle’s last lifeboat, the Victoria II is now in the Newcastle Maritime Centre collection.

Please click here to listen to the audio for this part of the tour.

Feature Story – The Wreck of the Adolphe

One of the lifeboat’s finest rescues took place on Friday 30th of September 1904.

The Adolphe, an elegant four masted French Sailing Ship had arrived from Antwerp at about 9am. She was met by two Newcastle Tugs – the Hero and the Victoria. The Tugs secured lines to the ship and began towing her towards the harbour entrance.

Conditions at the Harbour mouth were dangerous. A strong wind blew from the south and the seas broke heavily across the entrance. When it came round the southern breakwater, the Adolphe was struck by huge seas that caused the Victoria’s tow line to snap. The Hero struggled on alone but could not hold the ship up and another succession of big waves lifted her onto the remains of a ship previously wrecked attempting to enter the harbour.

The lifeboat put to sea. Battling the huge swells, and carefully navigating the remains of other ships wrecked in the same place years before, the lifeboat came alongside the Adolphe, secured two lines to the stricken ship and dropped anchor. One by one, the French crew came aboard the lifeboat, and once 47 people were on board the lifeboat set off for safety. The rescue took only half an hour.

The crew of the lifeboat were hailed as heroes and the Consul-General for France made a special visit to Newcastle to thank the crew and reward them with a purse of sovereigns. The Adolphe’s remains can still be seen on the Stockton Breakwater today.

Please click here to listen to the audio for this part of the tour.

8. Grounded

On Friday, 8 June 2007 the coal ship Pasha Bulker ran aground in heavy seas on Nobbys Beach. Her enormous red hull interrupted the beach and the city skyline until she was successfully re-floated 25 days later, leaving nothing behind save a section of her rudder in the surf, which was later salvaged.

This sculpture was commissioned to commemorate that dramatic episode in Newcastle’s history. Created by renowned Sydney based sculptor John Petrie, Grounded is an abstract representation of the ship’s bow, reflecting both the shape and colour of the Pasha Bulker.

An original section of 22mm plate steel from the salvaged rudder of the ship is included at the base of the work.

Please click here to listen to the audio for this part of the tour.

9. Newcastle Ocean Baths

Newcastle is firmly associated with shipping, industry and mining but it is also a place of spectacular natural beauty.

During the early 20th century a decline in the local mining industry forced Novocastrians to consider projects to diversify the local economy, attract tourists and capitalise on the city’s beautiful coastal landscape.

The Newcastle Ocean Baths was one such initiative.

The construction of the pool began in 1910 and the distinctive and architecturally significant Art Deco pavilion was built in 1922. The Baths provided the main swimming facility for clubs, school carnivals and the general public for decades. It continues to be a popular swimming spot today.

Please click here to listen to the audio for this part of the tour.

Feature Story – The World Pool

Just next to Newcastle Ocean Baths is the Canoe Pool, the site of one of Newcastle’s most enduring urban legends.

In 1936 a wall was built on the southern end of the Ocean Baths to protect it from rough seas and sand. Within this space a circular pool boasting a pigmented cement map of the world was constructed. The continents of the world were raised 60 centimetres from the bottom, 20 centimetres being above the water line. Countries of the British Commonwealth were coloured red, with other nations in green.

Much about the Pools’ construction and final fate remains a mystery. Considering the Depression of the 1930s it may have been a project to stimulate employment. However, the designer of this unique creation remains unknown. The construction of a map in a public pool was certainly unique, and no similar pools are known to have existed in Australia.

It is generally believed that the World Pool, as it became known, was removed after being damaged beyond repair by a cyclone in the 1970s. However, rumours persist that remnants of the map are still uncovered after big swells.

What is known for certain is that many Novocastrians who grew up between the 1930s and the 1960s have fond childhood memories of playing in the pool and journeying ‘across the globe’ with their family and friends.

Please click here to listen to the audio for this part of the tour.

10. Newcastle Beach – Surfest

Newcastle Beach hosted the first ever Surfest and for two decades was the competition’s home beach.

Surfest began in 1985 when Newcastle was still striving to cast off the city’s grime-ridden industrial image and showcase the unheralded beauty of Newcastle beaches and its fantastic surf breaks. Surfest was originally called the BHP Steel International and was the richest professional surfing event in the world at that time.

Surfest has become Australia’s largest surfing festival and part of the international world tour of surfing. It has made Newcastle and its surf culture famous not just nationally but internationally as well.

Please click here to listen to the audio for this part of the tour.

11. King Edward Park

By 1860 the area of King Edward Park was clearly identified on maps as a ‘Reserve for Public Recreation’ but it was first proclaimed a recreation reserve in 1865.

During 1898 the park gained a Rotunda and many of the spectacular trees that now define the park were planted. During the Second World War a gun battery was established in the park and bomb shelters were erected. They were finally demolished in 1978. It continues to be a focal point for community recreation to this day, with picnics, wedding parties and gatherings taking place in this spectacular park by the sea.

Please click here to listen to the audio for this part of the tour.

12. Newcastle Memorial Walk

Newcastle Memorial Walk was constructed to commemorate the Centenary of ANZAC and was completed in April 2015.

With its striking 360 degree views of the city and coast, the walk commemorates those who enlisted in World War I and features the family names of men and women from Newcastle and the Hunter Valley who served during the war. It also recognises the contribution that BHP Billiton made to the war effort in supplying steel rail, ship plate and munitions.

The Newcastle Memorial Walk provides a striking connection between the City’s CBD and the walk to Bathers Way, which continues south to Merewether Beach, home of the largest ocean baths in the Southern Hemisphere.

Please click here to listen to the audio for this part of the tour.

Please click here to listen to the audio on Susan Gilmore.

 

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