Newcastle is 101 miles north of Sydney and is an easy train ride (just under three hours and no changes) from Sydney Central Station. From there, you can walk straight to the waterfront and see the berths and anything on the move, which will come straight past you.
Unfortunately the weather was a bit overcast and grey, although at least it only rained a little, with some drizzle early one afternoon.
Here's a Google map of the spots I took photos from, which might be useful to anyone visiting the area. You can click on the map and move it around within its window, or you can open a larger version.
View Newcastle NSW ship photography spots in a larger map
Photos of some of the ships alongside, which were taken from the Stockton side of the Hunter River
As I was walking back to the ferry, I noticed three tugs on the move towards the river mouth, which meant something had to be coming in.
Bulk carrier Kaiyo was the one coming in, presumably to collect coal for Japan or China.
Later that afternoon another bulk carrier, Shoyo, departed from the port for Japan. After a bit of a wait (it's annoying not using my mobile to look at Marine Traffic, among other things, in Australia but the data charges outside the EU are extortionate) I photographed this one from the Newcastle side, from the 'Nobby's Beach Reserve', an area of sand dunes near the river entrance as she headed for the South Pacific Ocean.
One miscellaneous item that I nearly forgot was the local dredger David Allan
That was it for Newcastle. I wasn't staying long, as I had things to go to elsewhere in Sydney and western NSW, and headed back on the train the following morning. I wasn't expecting to see much but it was more productive than I thought it was going to be. There were further ship movements but they were in the evening or early hours.