While the Newcastle of today is a vibrant city with an upbeat lifestyle and an impressive cityscape, it used to be the biggest penal settlement outside Sydney. There was possibly not a more notorious place of punishment in the whole of Australia than Limeburners’ Bay, located on the inner side of the Stockton peninsula, where convicts were sent to burn oyster shells. Much has changed since the early 19th century, and Newcastle has become the second largest city in New South Wales. It is an elegant and attractive destination full of historic buildings and interesting nature. Located at the mouth of the Hunter River, Newcastle is one of the busiest coal export ports in the world, but it is also known as the 'gateway to the Hunter Valley’ wine region. A visit to this region is a must. Your taste-buds will love the local wine, chocolate and cheese. The city’s beaches, along the Tasman Sea, offer plenty of surfing opportunities, ocean baths and adrenaline-kicking activities, while the harbour side developments and the city centre are great for shopping, dining and clubbing in scenic surroundings.