City Discovery: Newcastle, Australia – A Surfer’s Paradise

Every year during February in Newcastle, surfers from around the world rush to Merewether Beach on the southern side of Newcastle for Surfest. Surfest is Australia’s largest surfing festival and one of the premier surfing competitions in the world.

Just a short trip up the coast from where the surfing world is stationed on Merewether Beach, lies Stockton Beach. Interestingly enough, Stockton Beach is the largest moving sand mass in the Southern Hemisphere and is also said to have the largest sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere!


Intercultural experiences highlight exposure with the local culture, promoting a multilateral exchange of ideas, language and opinions.

While in Newcastle, venture out into the Hunter Valley to Ngurra Bu, an Aboriginal cultural center focused on teaching and sharing the culture to ensure that it remains one of the oldest cultures on earth and continues to disseminate indigenous knowledge.

Hunter Valley

Like many Australian universities, the University of Newcastle has a many clubs, over 40 on-campus clubs to be exact, that students can join. Getting involved with one or more clubs is a great way to understand the local culture and promote intercultural communication and understanding.


ISA excursions and cultural activities highlight historical parts of the local culture to help students better understand their new environment.

Perhaps Newcastle’s most significant historical landmark and one of the best vantage points to take in 360° views of the city is Fort Scratchley. After entering the fort, student’s can meander through the underground tunnels and learn about the Fort’s history and its involvement in WWII.

Visiting the Newcastle Regional Art Gallery is a great way for students to learn more about Australian and Aboriginal art. The Gallery boasts the second largest collection of art in the Australian state of New South Wales and hosts an impressive range of Indigenous bark paintings, 20th century Australian and Japanese ceramics, as well as contemporary Australian art.


Sociopolitical discovery highlights social and political activities or experiences.

Newcastle’s proximity to Canberra, Australia’s capital, and Sydney, Australia’s most recognized city, affords students the opportunity to travel to and immerse themselves in significant political events and gain a first-hand understanding of how the Australian government works.


Professional experiences provide exposure to professional development opportunities during an ISA program.

Joining any of the on campus clubs and societies that are open to study abroad students, will allow students to attend many  of the social, academic and career events that these organizations are involved with throughout the semester – one of the most popular being ILEAD, International Leadership Experience and Development Program.


Environmental experiences expose students to different environmental aspects of the host country.

Just a short trip south of Newcastle’s center city is yet another one of Australia’s unique landscape, Lake Macquarie. The lake is the largest permanent salt water lake in the southern hemisphere and is an important site for Aboriginal people.

Learn more about Newcastle


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As part of the 2015 City Discovery Series, each week ISA will showcase a different location in which we have study abroad programs by highlighting the five parts of the Discovery Compass: Intercultural, Historical, Sociopolitical, Professional and Environmental. The Discovery Compass aims to help students have the best possible study abroad experience by helping them to gain a better understanding of the local environment, customs and people through a variety of experiences.