Newcastle City to University Loop

Newcastle City to University of Newcastle Loop

Getting bored with single track? Then change it up with a loop in Newcastle City. It may seem “exhausting” at first, especially for beginners, but we think you'll be pleasantly surprised that it's not as challenging as it might first appear. While you may be tired after the trip, the waterfront views together with fantastic restaurants along the route are worth the reward for you.

This is really two rides in one. Generally, you will start from the city center and end your ride at the University of Newcastle, then turn back by a different route. Although some parts of the trail have poor signage, the rest will not let you down. Here is the review of the ride.

The ride

Newcastle City to University of Newcastle

The first quarter of the route along the Newcastle waterfront to Islington Park is as scenic and as well presented as just about any ride in Australia. If you're visiting Newcastle purely for sightseeing and want a short 'highlights' ride, then a 10 km out and back ride along this first stretch would be a good option. The terrain of it is also dead flat and ideal for kids.

You'll start by riding along the city centre harbor front. Along this stretch there are plenty of indoor/outdoor cafes and restaurants that take advantage of their waterfront views and north facing sunny aspect, plus museums, galleries and the main tourist information centre. There are also two bike hire stations.

Once you head a little further west away from the city you're no longer riding alongside the huge Hunter River, but the smaller Throsby Creek. Here you'll ride past the city's marina where millions of dollars worth of sailing and motor boats are moored outside a major new residential development with of course, more cafes.

There are some very interesting signs along this stretch with stories and photos of Newcastle's passenger ferry era, underwater coal mines (stopped when too many lives were lost), local wildlife and more.

The route from the city to the University of Newcastle is designated 'R6' on the directional signs throughout. But once you ride through Islington Park unfortunately the route is poorly sign posted (I took a wrong turn hence the straight line on the route at this point).

The quality of cycle path / road way used also becomes patchy with a few busy road crossings, narrow stretches of path, and bollards in the middle of the path and so on.

At the University of Newcastle

Arriving at the university campus was a disappointment since I was hoping to see bikes everywhere and good facilities for cyclists. The campus is quite undulating, which makes this more challenging, but there is huge room for improvement.

One bright spot is that there are two cyclists hubs (you can see a photograph inside one of them) which are secure bike parking rooms complete with showers, change rooms and toilets.

Bike hub east also has a unique Bike Library that repairs bikes, repairs and recycles old bikes and generally promotes all things cycling. This great service is run by the University of Newcastle Bicycle User Group and managed by Daniel Endicott.

University of Newcastle to Newcastle City

Starting the journey back from the university campus towards the city via a different route proved much more problematic. Signage to show the way south from the university is difficult to be found. The first section of separated path runs parallel to the Newcastle Inner City Bypass, which is a busy motorway. The path is completely separate and safe, but then you need to cross Newcastle road at a point where there's no traffic lights or any other assistance. This crossing is not suitable for children or any cyclist lacking confidence in traffic.

The rest of the route back into the city ranges from nice, quiet path through parks and reserves, and a mixture of roads. Overall the route is poorly marked resulting in me taking a couple of 'wrong turns' from the designated route that City of Newcastle has devised.

Trail map

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24.597 km / 15.284 mi

Total Distance

175 m / 573 ft

Total Ascent

175 m / 574 ft

Total Descent

36 m / 117 ft

Highest Point

Ride type:
Mountain biking
Road riding
Rail Trail
Difficulty: Easy (Blue)
Ride Duration: 1-2 hrs
Fitness Level: Medium
Shared Bike Path - Paved
Shared Bike Path - Dirt
On-Road Bike Lane
Off-Road - Fire Trail
Off-Road - Rail Trail
Off-Road - Single Track
Off-Road - Downhill
Gravel Road
Trail Signage: Average
Mobile Coverage: Excellent
First Aid
Bike hire
Bike servicing
Accessible by bike
Accessible by car
Accessible by public transport
Accessible by shuttle
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