Newcastle is Australia's second oldest city (after Sydney), is New South Wales' second largest, and the sixth largest in Australia.
Lieutenant John Shortland found a rich seam of coal while pursuing escaped convicts in the area in 1791. The area was settled originally as a mining venture and named Coal River. Abandoned in 1802, the settlement resumed two years later under Lieutenant Charles Menzies with the new name of Newcastle.
The early days saw convicts working as woodcutters, lime-burners and miners. In 1831 the prisoners were moved to nearby Port Macquarie and the town was developed as a mining centre to produce coal and steel. It is still a major producer of coal.
In 2004 Newcastle celebrated it's 200th birthday.