I bet you’ve done a ton of research on your future home at the University of Newcastle, but do you know how to actually get here?
With assistance from the UON Global International Student Engagement Manager, Lauren Miles, I will take you through your first steps as an International student arriving on Australian soil, to the cosmopolitan, coastal city of Newcastle.
There are three unique ways to get to your new home in Newcastle. Choose your own adventure and start planning ahead!
1) Newcastle Airport –> Home in Newcastle
As Newcastle Airport is a domestic airport, it is highly unlikely you will be able to fly direct to Newcastle from your home country. However, you can book a separate flight from either Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast or Auckland. So if you can secure a connecting flight at one of these airports, this is by far the shortest route into Newcastle.
Upon arrival in Australia, you may find it difficult to manage our public transport system for the first time. But have no fear!
For those of you arriving via Newcastle Airport, “the University pays for new International students to get a free transfer to their accommodation,” Lauren said.
To book your free pickup with Waratah Hire Cars, simply follow the steps on the University of Newcastle’s arrival and customs page – although this is only available to first year International students, and you will need to book at least three days in advance.
All you have got to do now is settle in on that airplane – everything else is taken care of!
2) Sydney Airport –> Home in Newcastle
Touching down in Sydney International Airport is a common option for most international students, as it is only a two-hour journey by car to Newcastle, and a domestic flight racks up extra costs.
Lauren recommends taking advantage of the direct pick-up and transfer available between Sydney International Airport and Newcastle via Central Coast Express Shuttle. International students are offered a special rate, costing approximately $150. While this may seem a bit expensive, it does take out all of the hassle of getting to the University of Newcastle.
Central Coast Shuttle offer services to Ourimbah and Sydney too.
To take advantage of Central Coast Shuttle’s special discount, follow the instructions provided on UON’s arrival and customs page (and, as above, make sure you book at least three business days in advance).
3) Sydney Airport –> Central Station –> Home in Newcastle (Public Transport)
If you feel like conquering Australia like a local and saving some money, it isn’t too difficult to reach the University of Newcastle from Sydney via public transport. Also, it is surprisingly pleasant! The train takes you through scenic bushland and past picturesque lakes. I personally have many fond memories of staring out at the passing scenery.
This journey begins by obtaining an Opal card from the airport train station (found on the basement level). Your Opal gets you discounted public transport services in Sydney, Newcastle and the Hunter. The card itself is free – just top it up with money and you’re good to go!
Remember to ‘tap on’ with your Opal before boarding the train at the airport, then head to Central station. From there, change for the train to Newcastle – at least one leaves every hour. You may choose to get off at Broadmeadow, Hamilton or Newcastle Interchange, where you could then make use of the UON free Waratah Hire Cars service as mentioned in route #1.
If you’d rather forgo the free hire car service (and I applaud your keen sense of adventure), take a train from Hamilton station to Warabrook if you live on campus. This is the train station closest to the University’s Callaghan campus. For other destinations, search public transport routes on Google Maps or the Opal Travel app.
You can plan your trip with Transport Sydney Trains.
Note: The complimentary pick-up service is only applicable to first year international students.
On Getting Lost in a Foreign Land
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Lauren advises new International students. She points out that there is an International student welcome desk at Sydney Airport run by fellow International student volunteers. There is a general information desk in Newcastle.
As an International student myself, I was initially taken aback by how friendly and open to conversation the locals can be – many an Australian was keen to lend a hand to an International in need. I learnt that asking anyone for assistance, strangers included, can be a rewarding and fruitful experience.
Of course, it’s usually better not to get lost! So get prepared early, ready yourself and embrace your first steps in the Land Down Under!