Overseas university spotlight: The University of Newcastle (Australia)
Updated: May 27
About two and a half hours on the train up from Sydney is where you'll find the University of Newcastle.
It's one of six members of the Australian Technology Network (ATN), which has a strong history of innovation, enterprise and working closely with industry.
In fact, in the Innovation Connections IC Report (2014-2020), Newcastle was rated #1 in Australia for industry collaboration.
Here are some of the highlights from my trip to campus in October 2022!
Even though I lived in Sydney for more than a year, I never made it up to Newcastle at that time, but boy, was I surprised at what I found now.
I spent a whole weekend in Newcastle on this trip, and by the end of it, I was ready to put this city high on my list of places I'd live in the future.
Originally an industrial city, Newcastle played a key role in World War II and was even shelled by the Japanese.
Nowadays, it's a paradise for walkers and beach bums.
One of my favorite walks of all time is there -- the ANZAC Memorial Walk.
It offers stunning views of the coastline and pays tribute to the Australian and New Zealand troops who fought in the various wars.
To this day, Newcastle's industrial roots are present, as the world's largest coal export port.
And with a population of around 300,000, it was just the right size, a breath of fresh air after I spent a week in the large, bustling Sydney.
But more importantly -- the beaches. The beaches!
Newcastle also has these really cool 'public baths,' which are shallow swimming areas separated from the rougher surf, perfect for wading and floating.
One of my favorite areas in Newcastle is known as Bogey Hole, a oceanside 'swimming pool' hand-cut out of rock by convicts for Major James Morisset's personal use in 1819.
Walkability is a common theme here; you can pretty much walk from one side of the city to the other in about 20-30 minutes.
And there's a good variety of places to grab a bite or drink, such as the Light Years Asian restaurant below.
I found the old train station to be quite charming as well, especially at sunset!
As for the new train station, it's about a 5-minute ride on the tram from the centre or the beaches, thanks to the new tram line.
This line is streamlined with public transport in Sydney and across the wider state of New South Wales, which is so convenient (you can use the same transport card)!
And for a smaller city, it has a pretty good arts scene that includes a 1920s style theatre (The Civic), a heritage-listed building that seats 1,520, hosts a wide range of musicals, plays, concerts and dance events each year and is the city's oldest surviving theatre.
And even though it's an east coast city, you still get impressive sunsets over the river!
Newcastle has two campuses - one in the suburbs, about seven miles from the city centre, and another in the city centre itself.
I visited the Newcastle city centre campus, which is quite small -- but it is brand new and modern (and located right by The Civic).
One of the buildings, NUspace, is a modern, 8-level building home to the Business School and Law School, along with student services, cafes, classrooms and a library.
A unique aspect the University of Newcastle is its focus on giving back to the community; one way they do this is via a free tax clinic and legal clinic for the public (also a good chance for students to get work experience).
It also has a diverse student body, with 24% of students coming from low socioeconomic or disadvantaged backgrounds.
The classrooms on the top levels also come with amazing views of the river and ocean.
Across the street is one of the coolest bookshops/cafes, The Press Bookhouse, a locals' favorite.
And a few blocks away is the Q Building, home to the School of Creative Industries and the Integrated Innovation Network (I2N) Hub.
It was hosting a local high school careers fair the day I visited.
University of Newcastle: Summary
The city of Newcastle is a beautiful alternative to the traditional, more expensive and larger cities like Sydney and Melbourne.
It's a super easy train trip from Sydney, and it does actually have its own airport (I flew from here to the Gold Coast!).
Overall, from what I saw from the University of Newcastle's city centre campus and the city, it could be a great option for someone wanting to do something different in a place that has a slower pace and is less crowded.
At the same time, there is a real focus at the university to get students work experience prior to graduation so they are more employable.
I do definitely need to check out the main campus as well -- as if I really needed an excuse to come back and spend more time on this gorgeous stretch of coast though!