We have come to Newcastle to cycle the Fernleigh Track rail trail and explore one of Australia's most beautiful and under-rated cities. From our home in Sydney, Newcastle is less than two hours by road - the perfect destination for a couple of nights away.
We arrive mid-afternoon after a drive along the scenic route past Tuggerah Lake and Lake Macquarie. Check-in is seamless and welcoming. Both on the phone, a few days earlier and at the reception desk, Maddie and Laura are pleasant, efficient and helpful.
We are staying in a one bedroom apartment. It feels a little empty at first but once we have deposited our bags and all the bits and pieces we seem to carry around with us it transforms into a home away from home. There is a separate bedroom and living area, a full kitchen and a laundry complete with our own washing machine and dryer. The sunny, spacious balcony makes a perfect spot for breakfast.
|The one bedroom apartments have a large living room.|
|The kitchen is modern and well-equipped.|
Although there is a good selection of reasonably priced restaurants and eateries within a couple of minutes walk, the kitchen is a godsend after a hard day's cycling when the last thing we want to do is go out to eat - and I never under-estimate the value of a washing machine and dryer. When our boys were young, and we took long family road trips, I would have loved to have had our own personal laundry facilities. Even now, being able to throw our gear into the wash at the end of the day is a great luxury.
The Charlestown Executive Apartments are in a quiet residential street - far enough from the Pacific Highway that there is no traffic noise but close enough to be within an easy ten-minute drive of Newcastle CBD.
|The park across the street.|
Charlestown Square Shopping Centre with a Coles supermarket, speciality stores, banks, cafes and restaurants is two minutes walk.
|The balcony is perfect for an open-air breakfast overlooking the park.|
The Charlestown Executive Apartments have Studio 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments. For a full list of facilities in each apartment click - here
All apartments -
- Fully equipped kitchen (kitchenette in the studio apartments)
- King double and king single beds which can be joined together or separated
- Every bedroom has its own bathroom.
- Air conditioning
- Patio balconies with outdoor furniture
- Weekly servicing and a daily fresh towel service.
- Undercover parking in a secure carpark
- Free wi-fi up to 400 mb per day
1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments -
- Self-contained laundry with washing machine and dryer
The Fernleigh Track
The Fernleigh Track is a 15 kilometre long walking and cycling trail running from Belmont near Lake Macquarie to Adamstown, a southern suburb of Newcastle. Built along the route of a former railway line, the track runs through a bushland corridor with access points to the surrounding suburbs.
Charlestown Executive Apartments are a couple of kilometres from the access point at Whitebridge. With several hours of daylight left after we check in, we load the bikes on the car and join the trail at Whitebridge for a pleasant afternoon's cycle.
|The start of the track at the site of the old Belmont Railway station.|
|For much of its length, the track runs through a bushland corridor.|
Lake Macquarie City - 7 kms to the south-west
Lake Macquarie just 7 kms south-west of Charlestown Executive Apartments is the largest coastal saltwater lake in Australia. As well as boating, fishing, surfing and exploring the area's heritage listed towns there are a myriad of scenic spots to picnic, walk and cycle. The 9 km Warners Bay Foreshore shared path, running along the lake foreshore, is a great short cycle for families.
Hunter Stadium - 8km to the north
I confess - I am married to a football (I'm not allowed to call it 'soccer') tragic. Hunter Stadium is hardly top of my list of must see nearby attractions but David thinks the apartments will be a great home base next time his beloved Sydney FC play the Newcastle Jets.
Newcastle CBD - 10 kms to the north-east
|Apartments, cafes and marinas sprinkle the Hunter River Foreshore|
With a full day to do nothing but explore, David and I park the car in the free parking lot at Nobbys Beach Reserve and set out to cycle along the waterfront as far as the path will take us. When we run out of cycle path we retrace our steps and catch the ferry across to Stockton where cute little heritage cottages rub shoulders with modern mansions. Watch out for future posts on this cycle and the Fernleigh Track.
|A Stockton mansion|
Somehow we manage to miss the new and spectacular Newcastle Memorial Walk. It was opened on the 25th of April (ANZAC Day) this year in commemoration of the centenary of the landings at Gallipoli by Australian and New Zealand troops. The multi-million dollar construction budget clearly had very little allocation for signs. We drive straight past without realising it is there.
|Steel sculptures on the Memorial Walk|
Luckily I get chatting to the owner's wife as we are checking out of our apartment and she mentions how stunning the view from the raised steel walkway is. Even with her detailed directions, David and I struggle to find it the next day. At one stage we park less than a hundred metres away and still can't find it, however a combination of google and our host's advice to head to Strzelecki Lookout get us there in the end. The walkway is suspended above the ocean cliffs between the lookout and Bar Beach and is truly spectacular. It can be accessed from either end but if you want to avoid a long stairway at the Bar Beach end start the walkway from Strzelecki Lookout at the southern end of High Street just past where it intersects with Memorial Drive and Cliff Street.
|Steps at the Bar Beach end of the walkway|
Tips and Tricks and Things To Know
- Ask for a room facing the street if you want a view of the park.
- If you have accessibility issues request a room directly accessible from the lifts. Some of the rooms require you to go up a small flight of stairs.
Note: David and I received a complimentary two night stay at the Charlestown Executive Apartments