Article Index

The City of Newcastle acknowledges that we are on the traditional country of the Awabakal and Worimi peoples. The City recognises and respects their cultural heritage, beliefs and continuing relationship with the land and the sea, and that they are the proud survivors of more than two hundred years of dispossession. 

Newcastle is Australia’s second oldest and seventh biggest City, with a population of around 160 000. Acknowledged as one of Lonely Planet’s Top Ten Cities, located right on the coast, with ten beaches and literally a hundred different beach/rock surfable set ups within the Local Government Area (LGA) at any given time or tide, including the City’s National Surfing Reserve, Merewether. Outside of the LGA, there are hundreds of world class waves within and easy one hour’s drive North or South.

Newcastle’s surfing culture and history remains as strong as ever, and reflects the City’s down to earth approach. It would be hard to find one person in the City who does not have a link to the Ocean, either as a surfer, swimmer or avid beach goer.

This is reflected in Newcastle’s long list of well known surfers and water men and women, including four times World Champion Mark Richards, the youngest surfer to ever win a World Tour event, Nicky Wood, along with patriarchs such as Ted Harvey, Robbie Woods, Steve Butterworth, Col Smith, Bob Lynch, Peter McCabe, Warren Smith and Roger Clements. Not forgetting stylists such as Belinda Baggs, Matt Hoy, Simon Law, Marty McMillan, Jye Byrnes, Rhys Smith, and of course Newcastle’s own Ms. Universe, Jennifer Hawkins, who goes out for a paddle as well!

In1998 the significance of surfing created enough impetus to create the Hunter Surf Industry Cluster Business Incubator, which was co-ordinated by the University of Newcastle’s Business Development Centre with around 20 local surf industry representatives participating. The Cluster undertook research with the outcome being the production of the Hunter Surf Industry Feasibility Study which ascertained the local surf industry at that time was conservatively estimated at AUS $36.5 million to the regional economy.

Since this time, awareness in the importante of surfing and the surf industry has been increasing acknowledged as one of the significant economic drivers for the local economy.



Newcastle is focused on the sea, its harbour is the busiest in Australia, the river provides a link to the Hunter Valley, and most of the major events held in Newcastle happen within a good stones throw of the Ocean. 

Surfing, surf culture, and going to the Beach are activities most, if not all, Novocastrians participate in. Increasingly surf tourism, with visitors from around Australia and overseas, is becoming a major economic development driver in the City, with Newcastle being a destination of preference for those wishing to experience surf culture and the many and diverse social and dining activities and opportunities as well.



Newcastle is at a turning point, and is on the path to becoming a centre of excellence for creativity and innovation. Renew Newcastle ( started as a way of reinvigorating the City Centre, and is now recognised around the World as a leader in city revitalisation.

Innovation in surfing and the surf industry predominantly arises from the many shapers and exporters in Newcastle and in the surrounding area. Sam Egan’s designs, and innovations from 3P Surfboards, along with the exporting powerhouses of Pacific Dreams and The Surf Factory, place Newcastle well and truly on the map. Designs from the late Steve Butterworth pushed the limits of surfing and awareness.


There has been considerable efforts undertaken to research and promote Surf Tourism in New South Wales through the Destination NSW’s Surf Tourism Action Plan, where it was identified that, “…outside of Sydney, the principal surfing destination for international travellers is Byron Bay.

However, it was also noted that there is also an evolving North Coast surf touring circuit, which is growing in popularity and includes Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Coffs Coast and Byron Bay. Along with this trend, there are initiatives such as The Legendary Pacific Coast.

Newcastle’s active participation in the World Surf Cities Network has already proven of great benefit in assisting stakeholder groups in the City learn about what successes are occuring in Australia and overseas. Newcastle has the opportunity of experiencing the vibrancy of the European and South American surf lifestyle, mixed with sharing stories with our New Zealand Brothers and Sisters, and groundtruthing all apsects with our fellow surf tribe on the Gold Coast. 


Newcastle has a number of successful Surf Schools and Learn to Stand Up Paddleboard enterprises. It also has a large number of surf shops, shapers and ding repair businesses, ranging from “backyarders” to international suppliers.

There are a number of clothing manufacturers either in the Newcastle LGA or in adjacent areas such as Kuta Lines providing clothing and wetsuits for local and international markets. 

These businesses often act independently with disparate strategic directions, and there is little or no collegiate approach to the local surf industry or to the promotion of surf tourism.


Surfing and visiting the beach are almost an every day occurrence for locals and visitors in Newcastle. Attendance at Nippers Classes (early education for volunteer surf life savers) is huge, with one local Surf Life Saving Club having over 600 children registered for training.

Surfrider Foundation Australia’s Hunter Branch stages numerous events focussed on enhancing the City’s coastal environment, and the Foundation’s work is supported by Coastcare, Dunecare and Landcare groups, all who volunteer their time to see Newcastle’s coast protected.

Newcastle is also covered by a network of surf cams which showcase the City to the World.

Cameras at Nobbys Beach, Newcastle, and at the Bar Beach/Merewether stretch provide live high quality vision to anyone eager to go to the beach, and there are a number of excellent surf web sites covering the City as well.


SURFEST has for toree decades firmly placed Newcastle on the international stage, and remains one of Newcastle’s few truly international sporting events. However, SURFEST continues to struggle to secure adequate support to ensure the appropriate star rating, and each year is faced with funding challenges.

Newcastle LGA has a number of active board rider and watercraft clubs which stage local events, and Newcastle Surfing Association stages regional and state events as well.

There are also a number of Disabled Surfers Associations events held throughout the region.  


There is no doubt Newcastle’s beaches are an attraction, with a media report noting that “The 2013 summer season has been a busy one for Newcastle’s professional lifeguards with more than 1.7 million visitors estimated to have visited the city’s beaches.”

The lack of surf tourism focus in Newcastle is depriving the Tourism Industry and economy in general through not taking full advantage of the significant role Newcastle plays in Surfing and Surf Culture, along with building on the existing events and infrastructure operating in the City.

Working with the assistance of the World Surf Cities Network and key stakeholders including Newcastle Tourism Industry Group, accommodation providers, Newcastle NOW, SURFEST, Event Promoters, the Surf Industry, and related stakeholders, Newcastle kick start a strategic Events/Sports Tourism strategy which appropriately promotes Newcastle as a attractive and vibrant surf and surf culture destination.

This will be achieved through:

Establishing a Festival of Surfing associated with SURFEST

  • This will provide the potential for three weeks of night-time activity, continuing on from the day's events and provide sustained opportunities for trade shows and commercial activities.
    • By drawing key stakeholders together as soon as possible, leaders and decision makers will be enthused to create a sustainable and ongoing event which links into Newcastle's high profile internationally acknowledged competition.
      • Activities will include:
        • Trade Shows and exhibitions – clothing, equipment, accessoriesStanding Wave exhibitions
        • Food and Wine Festival – taking all the successful aspects of an earlier event and making these better
        • Art Shows – photography competitions and art exhibitions
        • Movies – movies screened around the city (indoors and outdoors) including 'Surf City,' Mel Gibson's first ever movie role filmed at Catherine Hill Bay. There could also be a reintroduction of 'Snap Off The Lip' which was originally staged in Newcastle in 2006.
  • Developing a surfer friendly culture in Newcastle’s hospitality offerings
    • For example consideration of access to surfboard appropriate transport at the region’s Williamtown Airport, on Public Transport adn the provision of roof Racks on hire vehicles
    • Developing surf focused accommodation package. 
  • Support for the Merewether National Surfing Reserves’ Local Steering Committee’s initiatives with the potential to see Merewether successfully nominated as a World Surfing Reserve

The World Surf Cities Network has already provided great insights into the global surf industry and tourism markets, and continued participation in this initiative is essential in ensuring current and world’s best practise endeavours are successfully pursued. 


CONTACT-WSCN responsible 

  • Chris Tola: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Móvil: +61249742849