Exploring the East End

Discover heritage architecture, boutique shopping and a buzzing small bar scene.

Newcastle’s East End is experiencing a rebirth thanks to a major rejuvenation of Hunter Street Mall. There is a beautiful blend of old meets new as iconic heritage buildings are restored and new retail developments and restaurants emerge.

One of the most highly-anticipated additions to the East End is the QT Newcastle, a five-star hotel housed within part of the heritage-listed, 113-year-old David Jones building and QT’s first regional hotel. The building’s heritage facade has been lovingly maintained, while inside you’ll experience QT’s luxurious, quirky and modern style.

Nearby, mere steps from Newcastle’s first Woolworths Metro store, you’ll discover a fine collection of some of Newcastle’s best independent businesses. Enjoy a coffee at Mr Sister then browse boutique stores including Studio Melt with its gorgeous handmade jewellery and objects sourced from small-scale, studio-based creators.

Studio Melt shares its East End retail space with acclaimed local slow fashion brand High Tea with Mrs Woo, with each piece designed and handmade in Newcastle. Next door is Honest Paper, curators and creators of the most delightful stationery and featuring Australia’s first dedicated wax seal bar. If you’d like to check out some local wines, pop into Artisanal Cellars. Their great selection will have you spoilt for choice.

Grab a bite – or two

There’s also plenty of dining options that will draw you back to the East End time and again. For delicious small plate share-style dining, head across the new piazza to Asian bar and restaurant, Oh My Papa!

On Hunter Street, a longtime stalwart of the East End is One Penny Black. The cafe is fitted out with charming rustic-chic décor and well known for its great coffee and locally sourced, seasonal menu. Think halloumi and pumpkin stacks, roast turmeric chickpea salads and house-made Biscoff and choc chip pancakes. For a wholesome feed, you can’t go past Momo Wholefood which specialises in nourishing, plant based food. Much of their menu as well as their weekly specials are inspired by fresh, seasonal produce from local growers.

avourites include tempeh and greens with almond satay, organic brown rice, cucumber, herbs, sprouts, pickles and chilli. The handmade steamed Tibetan dumplings filled with tofu and vegetables, come with chilli oil and sesame soy dipping sauce.

It is impossible to try the myriad dining options between Signal Box, near Queens Wharf, and Estabar, overlooking Newcastle Beach, in a single visit. New arrival Humbug offers a mediterranean twist. Then there’s ever popular Moor’s, Good Brother Espresso, The Great Northern Hotel, Perry the Feeder at The Station, Customs House, seafood focused Scottie’s, tapas at Bocados or Bolton Street Pantry. They all serve up great food in their very own, unique style.

If you’d like to get acquainted with Newcastle’s art scene, the East End is a great place to start. Visit Timeless Textiles, Australia’s only commercial gallery dedicated purely to fibre and textile art. They offer a variety of regularly changing exhibitions featuring local, national and international textile artists. Next door is the Lock-up, Newcastle’s Police Station and Lock-up from 1861 until its closure in 1982. The heritage building houses a contemporary arts space and creative hub including an apartment for artists.

Across the street, Curve Gallery host a diverse array of solo and group exhibitions. Shannon Hartigan Images is also nearby, a wonderful gallery with stunning fine art landscape photography of Newcastle and beyond.

Explore The City Arcade where Barbara Nanshe offers one-off, handmade jewellery and sculptures. She also sells leggings, cushion covers, scarves and cards featuring her artwork and designs. Also inside the arcade, CCY Studio stocks an original collection of handcrafted leather goods, from elegant handbags to homewares and accessories.

When the sun sets in the East End, why not grab a drink at one of the intimate bars. Blue Kahunas tropical rum bar brings a touch of tiki escapism with its array of rums and cocktails. On request, you can even gather a group of friends for a special cocktail making class.

Another popular East End haunt is The Falcon, offering cocktails, Australian made natural wines, tap beers and American diner-inspired eats. And let’s not forget the East End’s original small bar, Bar Petite. The cosy, French-boutique style lounge and tapas bar is a wonderful spot to catch up with friends for a drink and listen to live music. Some of the city’s best musicians bring the tunes every Friday and Saturday.

Feeling exhausted just by reading how much there is to do in the East End? Relax at Zadig Studio, Newcastle’s first infrared sauna, let the cutting-edge hair stylists at The New Black create a new look for you or enjoy the service of Newcastle’s luxury barber shop The Men’s Salon.

Newcastle’s East End has transformed in recent years, so if it’s been some time since you’ve visited, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the wealth of great local shopping, food, art and beautiful architecture.

Find more stories in our Winter issue of Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.

Story by Nathalie Craig, photography by Frank Schulze and courtesy of featured businesses. Supported by Newcastle City BIA