Our guide to getting around Newcastle

As much as your mate just loves taking you on late night McDonald’s runs or to class at NeW Space, sometimes you’ve got to expand your transportation options outside of hitching a ride.

What are these ‘other options’ you ask?

Well luckily for you, here at Navigator we’ve put together a rundown of transport choices and tips to help you on your journey around Newy.

Public Transport

Transport NSW has an arsenal of services to get you around town – especially convenient at peak hour or where parking is a problem (I’m looking at you Hunter Street).

If you haven’t already, go and get yourself an Opal Card. Much like London’s Oyster Card or Hong Kong’s Octopus Card, this card is the easiest way of jumping on board NSW’s public transport services. Simply put some money onto the card, and you’ll be able to tap on and off the city’s trains, buses, ferries and light rail.

It’s simple to get your hands on one with more than 1,000 retailers across the state offering them, including Pinkies at Callaghan campus and the Central Coast Campus Union at Ourimbah. Once you’ve got your card, you can also top up online!

In case you were asking yourself, ‘but why is it called an Opal Card?’, boy do I have an answer for you. No, it’s not just because global governments have a thing for ‘O’ names – although weirdly coincidental. The name ‘Opal’ was chosen from a possible 665 names because it’s short, easy to say and ‘uniquely Australian’.

Your Opal Card is free; however you’re required to put a minimum of $10 onto it when first topping up. Make sure to also check if you’re eligible for an Opal Concession Card! These lucky cardholders get half-price fares, which if you ask me is pretty snazzy. Most full-time domestic students are eligible, while international students are only eligible if their study is fully funded by Australian government scholarships.

I’ll let you in on a local tip – save all your big trips for Sundays. It’s a $2.50 maximum for as much travel as your heart desires. Manly Ferry anyone?

To find out the quickest public transport route to your destination, your best bet is consulting the ever-so-handy Google Maps or Apple Maps. I would also recommend looking at Transport NSW’s website, as sometimes there are changes to timetables or trackwork that might impact your journey.

Some key services

Rail

The main train line servicing the Newcastle region is the Central Coast & Newcastle Line. Essentially, this is the train which connects Newcastle to Sydney Central Station; a 2.5-hour journey you’ll likely become very accustomed to. But it’s not so bad. The trip features picturesque scenery as you ride through the lush landscapes of coastal Australia. Plus it gives you plenty of time to get some uni work done.

And it’s a hell of a lot better than driving down the M1.

Light Rail

Love it or hate, the light rail is the shiny new toy of the Newcastle CBD.

Faults aside, they do offer a much smoother journey from the Newcastle Interchange (located at Wickham) through to Newcastle Beach. Operating between 5am and 1am, adults tapping on will be charged a fare of $2.20 per trip – a small price to pay to avoid the awful congestion of Hunter Street. The light rail ‘Civic’ stop is also conveniently located directly across from NeW Space.

Buses

Buses are the most versatile public transport option in the city, with the University serviced by plenty of routes. Be warned though – they may arrive slightly earlier or later than the scheduled time.

Ferries

Ferries are an experience of their own. If you’re looking for a fun thing to do on a weekend, why not hop on the Stockton Ferry and spend the day at the beach?

 

University Transport

The University of Newcastle offers plenty of transport services for students on the go.

NeW Space Shuttle

I like to think that the NeW Space Shuttle is a cut above your standard public bus. It provides a direct route between Callaghan and NeW Space campus and is completely free (providing you have your Student ID Card).

The inter-campus shuttle services runs five days a week from 7.00am to 10.15pm. There are six stops at Callaghan campus, and you can hop on and off wherever you like. During semester, the shuttle comes every 30 minutes (during the break it becomes an hourly service).

Security Shuttle

The University’s Security Shuttle offers two services: ‘The Station Security Shuttle’ and the ‘Security Night Shuttle’.

From 6.30pm up until 1.00am you can call the Security Night Shuttle to arrange a pick up at Callaghan campus. The shuttle takes passengers to locations on campus and also nearby suburbs including Jesmond, Shortland, Birmingham Gardens and Waratah West. For the after-hours shuttle service, you can arrange a pick-up by calling 0407 951 470. Check out if your home is within the boundaries of the Security Shuttle here.

The Station Security Shuttle connects Warabrook Train Station with Callaghan campus, operating Monday to Friday during semester between 8.00am – 10.00am and 4.00pm – 6pm.

Liftango

The University has partnered with Liftango, a ride-share app, so you can carpool with your fellow students and make getting to campus a little easier. Not only can you make new friends during your daily commute, by using the app you get exclusive access to the premium RideShare bays on campus.

 

Taxis and Rideshare

Private transport comes in handy on a late night out, getting to a location outside the borders of Newcastle’s public transport network, or just getting to that compulsory class on time.

Uber isn’t as widely available in Newcastle as it is in your bigger cities like Sydney, but generally you can get a ride within 10 minutes.

Aside from your good old-fashioned hailing a cab on the side of the road, you can also order a taxi through the 13 Cabs App.