It is the hub of the Greater Newcastle area which includes most parts of the local government areas of City of Newcastle, City of Lake Macquarie, City of Cessnock, City of Maitland and Port Stephens Council.
The Namoi had first-class cabins with the latest facilities.
Because of the coal supply, small ships plied between Newcastle and Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide, carrying coal to gas works and bunkers for shipping, and railways.
These were commonly known as "sixty-milers", referring to the nautical journey between Newcastle and Sydney.
These ships continued in service until recent times.
The old central business district, located at Newcastle's eastern end, still has a considerable number of historic buildings, dominated by Christ Church Cathedral, seat of the Anglican Bishop of Newcastle.
Other noteworthy buildings include Fort Scratchley, the Ocean Baths, the old Customs House, the 1920s City Hall, the 1890s Longworth Institute (once regarded as the finest building in the colony) and the 1930s art deco University House (formerly NESCA House, seen in the film Superman Returns).
The name first appeared by the commission issued by Governor King on 15 March 1804 to Lieutenant Charles Menzies of the marine detachment on HMS Calcutta, then at Port Jackson, appointing him superintendent of the new settlement.
The convicts were rebels from the 1804 Castle Hill convict rebellion.
Under Captain James Wallis, commandant from 1815 to 1818, the convicts' conditions improved, and a building boom began.