Postgraduate study can last anywhere from three to five years (or even longer) depending on your degree, so if you don’t balance out your work with some relaxation and down-time, you’ll have a much harder time making it to the finish line. Remember: you’re a human being, not a robot! It’s okay to have hobbies and a social life – in fact, there is growing evidence to suggest it leads to greater productivity, creativity and focus. Win-win, right?

Newcastle is packed with great activities and places to see, and there are plenty of opportunities on- and off-campus to connect and make new friends. Here are some of our favourites.

NUPSA Social Events

In addition to our student skills workshops (which you can read all about in Commencing Study), we run all kinds of social events to give you a break from your studies: movie nights, catered lunches/dinners, games sessions, yoga/meditation classes, pub evenings, badminton, you name it!

These are not only a chance to give your brain a rest, but an opportunity to socialise, improve your English and learn new skills. (Being able to finish Rainbow Road in Mario Kart without falling off the track is absolutely a skill. Put it on your resumé.)

We run these social events at every campus throughout the year, and the very best place to find them all is the workshop and event calendar on our website. Check it out!


Little did you know, this is what your PhD in Physics was preparing you for, all along.

University Social Events

While NUPSA’s events are objectively the best in the world, there are loads of others organised each week by various groups at the University. UON Global runs speed conversations and Cheap Chewsday dinners, NUSA hosts free breakfasts, and Student Central puts on moonlight movie screenings, fair days and festivals.

You’ll find a lot of these advertised through social media and around campus – check out NUSA’s Facebook page, UON Global’s Facebook page and the University’s Facebook page.

Many also appear in our own website calendar; see NUPSA Social Events above.



Duelling is also quite popular on campus: bladed weapons, single combat, first blood drawn from the torso.

Rumour has it the University selects its Deans of School through such a process, though they are required to finish off their wounded opponent first. (Probably to stop rumours like this spreading, ironically.) 

Clubs and Societies

Student clubs and societies are another great way to connect and socialise, since you’ll meet a lot of students that have common interests or backgrounds. Some clubs are based on a recreational activity (like the UON Chess Club), while others are based on a school/discipline (such as the Public Health Social Club) or cultural background (such as the African Postgraduate Students Association).

There are tons of clubs you can join on campus – you’ll find a complete list here on the University’s website, or a more specific list of postgraduate clubs here on ours.

And if you can’t find the perfect club, why not start your own? Creating a club and affiliating it with NUPSA is super-easy: all you need are nine other students who are keen to be involved. (We can even help you put the word out and find them!)

Once your club is affiliated, we can help promote it, fund your events and advise you on the best venues (on- or off-campus) to use. So whether you love horror movies, stamp collecting or paddleboat riding, find some like-minded folks and get into it!

All the info you need can be found on our ‘Starting a Club’ page.


The University even has a Quidditch team, the Newcastle Fireballs. Don’t let the broomsticks fool you: quidditch is as magical as it is violent.


Another great way to meet new people – and build up some good karma – is to volunteer! UON has a great volunteering program that allows you to help out in areas you’re best suited for; you could assist at charity events, take photos, act as a Student Mentor, work in the community garden, or even donate your musical and artistic talents through live performances on campus.

Volunteering looks great on a resume, and will immerse you in the student community and local culture. It’s also a very attractive quality on a first date; just find a tasteful way to drop it in the conversation, without sounding like you’re bragging or anything.


Student volunteers maintaining the University’s community garden. Their efforts have produced a fresh crop of mandrakes, which will be used to revive all those students that were, regrettably, petrified by the gaze of a basilisk last year.

Public Holidays

In Australian culture, public holidays are treated with the greatest reverence. Each is celebrated in its own way; Australia Day, for example, is typically observed with a barbecue (and, the day after, a hangover), and during the Easter long weekend, it is traditional to engage in four days of solid inactivity.

As a student, you must never, ever work on a public holiday. Such a thing is shameful, and considered highly improper. Those days are sacred, and only to be wasted on stupid things. That is the Australian way.

To avoid committing such a horrendous faux pas, consult this Public Holidays calendar on the Australian federal government website.


On Australia Day, it is customary to wear formal national dress.

Cafes and Restaurants (On Campus)

Feeling peckish? Want to catch up with a friend over lunch? Whichever campus you’re based at, there are plenty of good eats!

Callaghan Campus has east and west sides (often called ‘Hunter’ and ‘Shortland’, after their largest and most recognisable buildings), and both have some great breakfast and lunch options.

On the east side, Bar on the Hill and Aroma Café (in the Hunter Building) serve everything from burgers, pizzas and wraps to pasta dishes, pastries and salads.

On the west side, check out the Shortland Building: there you’ll find the Godfrey Tanner Bar, Mamadukes, Subway, Gloria Jean’s, Sinofood Chinese Restaurant and plenty of others. Just be sure to avoid those Sharks and Jets, and their frequent tap dance battles.

City Precinct now includes the NeW Space complex, a leviathan structure that recently emerged from another dimension. On the ground floor, you’ll find Fuel Café, which serves quick, pre-made meals to go. Otherwise, just step outside and you’re in the heart of Newcastle, surrounded by dozens of cafés, bars and restaurants! (See Cafés and Restaurants Off-Campus below.)

At Ourimbah Campus, the best place to get food is The Millery, a café and cafeteria that serves good student cuisine. There’s also the Health Bar (with a selection of juices, smoothies, yoghurts and nibbles for the health-conscious), and Blue Gum Café, conveniently located inside the entrance of the Library.

Alas, Sydney Campus has no eateries of its own, but the ground floor of the building is home to the Verandah Bar, with plenty of tasty things on offer.

For a full list of food providers at each campus, check out the Food and Bars page on the University’s website.


Aroma Cafe, in the Hunter Building at Callaghan. The food is great, if you can beat your way through a crowd of caffeine-addicted students (not pictured).

Cafes and Restaurants (Off Campus)

Whether you’re looking for coffee and a quick nosh or something fancier, Newcastle has an amazing café and dining scene. There are far too many places to list in this guide; we’d definitely recommend looking at HUNTERhunter’s online café, restaurant and sight-seeing guide, or asking around on campus. To get you started, though, here are a few of the most popular dining hotspots in town.


Darby Street

Just a couple of minutes’ walk from City campus lies one of Newcastle’s best known café strips. Here you’ll find Goldberg’s, much loved for its eclectic coffee blends and bohemian chic, as well as sushi, Vietnamese and Indian cuisines.

If you have a sweet tooth, Coco Monde is an award-winning chocolateria (their cakes are unbelievable), and Depot on Darby serves ‘freak shakes’, which are essentially entire desserts mixed up in a milkshake and served in a paint tin. Why? We don’t ask why.



Beaumont Street

Running straight through the middle of Hamilton, Beaumont Street is a joyfully chaotic avenue of cafés, pubs, shops and restaurants. Want a big breakfast? Dumplings? Thai food? Go for it. After a late night kebab? No problem. Want some ice cream with M&Ms crushed through it? Of course you do.

Want to eat tiny, meticulously arranged haut cuisine off a wood-fired maple log? Mais bien sur – polish your pocket-watch, don your most imperious monocle and have Igor bring the car around.

Speaking of which, traffic is crazy down Beaumont Street, and parking nigh impossible most of the time. Our advice is to park in one of the quieter side-streets, or to catch a bus – most of them stop somewhere along Beaumont (especially at the train station, near the top). Or you could get an Uber!


Desserts from Jimmy G’s in Beaumont Street.


The Boardwalk/Honeysuckle

Newcastle’s harbour is beautiful to look at (except for the coal port – just ignore that), and it’s surrounded by some terrific eateries as well.

Honeysuckle Hotel serves pizzas and other nibbles, and has a large deck of outside tables where you can soak up the sun while you dine. The Boardwalk at the west end has Japanese cuisine (Nagisa) and fine dining, but there are some more casual and inexpensive options there as well.

Queen’s Wharf Tower is a located here (famous for its resemblance to a penis), and the Queen’s Wharf Hotel beside it (often called ‘the Brewery’) is a popular bar, restaurant and live venue.


Honeysuckle: beautiful at night. Just right of frame is the ferry terminal, and beyond that, the largest coal port in the southern hemisphere (less beautiful). 

Beach Safety

Newcastle is famous for its beaches. The sun, the surf… It’s a great place to hang out with friends, or just relax on your own. But there are hidden dangers you need to be aware of when you’re exploring the coastline or swimming in the ocean. As Sarah Blasko once said, ‘What the sea wants, the sea shall have.’

The Hunter Surf Life Saving website is an excellent resource for anyone planning a beach trip – it has info sheets on safety flags, safety signs, board riding, keeping an eye out for children, rip currents, sun safety, tides and other important considerations for beachgoers.

We also organise trips to the beach and beach safety workshops throughout the year, to give you practical knowledge and a chance to see potential hazards first-hand.

Here are a few common tips for remaining safe at the beach:

Look for flags. There are a number of different flags, each with different colours and indications, but the ones you must absolutely regard are red-and-yellow. These indicate that the beach is supervised by lifeguards, and you must stay between them when swimming. If there are no red-and-yellow flags about, don’t get in the water.

Look for signs. Again, there are different colours that indicate hazards, regulations or safety provisions. Pay attention to them all – they’ll warn you of anything potentially dangerous, and direct you in an emergency.

Keep children supervised. If you have children with you, keep them supervised at all times. It also helps to dress them in brightly coloured swimmers that are easy to spot at a distance, and to familiarise them with a recognisable landmark that they can return to if you are separated for any reason.

Avoid rip currents. A rip current (or ‘rip’), is a strong current beginning around the shore that runs away from the beach. It may feel like you are in a flowing/moving river. If you’re caught in a rip, stay calm. Don’t try to swim against the current, but raise your hand and call for assistance while floating to conserve your energy.

Avoid sunburn/dehydration. Drink plenty of water, wear a long-sleeve top, sunscreen, a wide-brim hat and sunglasses. Find a shady spot if you can, particularly between the hours of 10am and 3pm, when the sun is hottest.


Merewether Beach. Prettier than Dudley Beach, but you have to keep all your clothes on, which is a let-down.

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