The metropolitan area of Newcastle is the second most populous area in New South
Wales, and includes most of the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie local government areas.
As of 30 June 2009 the population of the city of Newcastle was estimated to be 154,777.
Newcastle holds a variety of cultural events and festivals. The Mattara festival,
founded in 1961, is the official festival of Newcastle with a more traditional 'country
fair' type program that combines a parade, rides, sporting events, band competitions
and portrait and landscape painting exhibitions.
The Shoot Out 24 Hour Filmmaking Festival, first started in Newcastle in 1999. This
is the film festival where film-makers come together in one place to make a short
film in 24 hours. It is run annually in July. This Is Not Art is a national festival
of new media and arts held in Newcastle each year over the October long weekend.
Since its humble beginnings in 1998, it has become one of the leading arts festivals
in Australia dedicated to the work and ideas of communities not included in other
major Australian arts festivals. The umbrella program includes the independent festivals
Electrofringe, the National Young Writers' Festival, Critical Animals, Sound Summit,
Crack Theatre Festival and other projects that vary from year to year.
Newcastle has an active music culture, as well as a Conservatorium of Music which
is part of the University of Newcastle. It continues to support local bands and has
a large underground music scene. The members of Silverchair, the highly successful
Australian band, hail from Newcastle, as does the Australian band The Screaming Jets.
Noted Australian artists John Olsen, Margaret Olley and William Dobell once lived
in Newcastle and today the city of Newcastle is home to a wide range of public, commercial
and private galleries. The Newcastle Art Gallery is home to one of Australia's most
substantial public art collections outside a major capital city, and its extensive
collection of works by contemporary and historical Australian visual artists presents
a comprehensive overview of Australian art.
Newcastle has a variety of smaller theatres, but the main theatre in the CBD is now
the Civic, at Wheeler Place, (seating capacity about 1500), one of Australia's great
historic theatres built during 1929 in Art Deco style. It hosts a wide range of musicals,
plays, concerts, dance and other events each year.
Newcastle has also been home to noted Australian actors, comedians and entertainers,
including Sarah Wynter, John Doyle (part of comic act Roy and HG), Susie Porter,
Celia Ireland, Yahoo Serious and Jonathan Biggins. The cast of the Tap Dogs show
also come from Newcastle.
For a walk through Newcastle’s history you can tour Fort Scratchley Historic Site,
with its commanding position guarding the Hunter River Estuary. Overlooking Nobbys
Beach and lighthouse, the Fortress has a long and interesting military history. Another
famous historic site and a survivor of the Japanese submarine attack of WWII and
the 1989 Newcastle Earthquake, Christ Church Cathedral is a short car ride away.
The city’s ‘Castle’ boasts exquisite architecture, beautiful grounds and wide views
of Newcastle harbour. Revisit Newcastle’s convict past with a visit to the convict-hewn
Bogey Hole, built around 1820 for the personal use of Commandant James T. Morriset.
Located beneath a rocky prominence at the foot of King Edward Park, the Bogey Hole
gets battered during heavy seas.
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