Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Part 2....into Newcastle proper. (FINALLY!)

Busy, busy in the harbour
Coming back down the Hunter River towards the business end of Newcastle, I still wasn't expecting much from the actual city itself. Being the largest coal exporting harbour in the world, and with its waterways filled with cargo ships, I was expecting dirt, grime, noise and a little unpleasantness, though my imagination did draw the line at coal-dust covered, cap wearing sepia hued Dickensian striplings coming at me and, in their finest British coal town tongue asking, "Spare us a copper, Lady?" However, sailing past the gorgeous foreshore, my notions had a sideways shift as I took in the coffee shops, restaurants, neat parks and renovated historical buildings. It was quite a revelation.
I still don't know the name but I love this.

Just some of the lovely shops and businesses along the harbour front
A little flappage and flair.
Cycling along the breakwater.

 The Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club Marina was the first big surprise. Not overly expensive and with wonderful facilities including a laundry (we have found that so many marinas don't have a washing machine), restaurant, secure fingers and really friendly people. The club, far from being cloistered and exclusive, fronted a wide, paved, well lit, leafy and amply seated public esplanade where people jogged, cycled and walked their dogs and where everyone seemed to wear a smile and give a nod hello. It was also within walking distance of shops and the free bus service into the city. I was delighted.
Catching up on his reading whilst waiting for the bus. Free buses are great but some seats in a shelter  would have been nice.
Our sojourn on the aforementioned free bus (yay for free stuff!) into the city the following day brought more happy surprises as Newcastle City defied my ideas of what a coal town was like. With spacious walkways, lush and manicured parks and gardens and man made lakes having replaced an old, defunct power station, it's obvious that the city takes great pride in just how beautiful it is despite its reputation. All of this beauty was back-dropped by the harbour, which added an even more special kind of wonder to the place. Because I can't walk very fast and because it was just so lovely and relaxed, it was a pleasure to stroll through and just look around.

The beautiful parklands
Manicured, spotless, spacious, gorgeous.

The one place we really wanted to visit was Fort Scratchley, which we had seen high on the hill as we had entered the harbour days earlier. Rather than try and tell you about the Fort, I'll just add my photos and post this link http://www.fortscratchley.com.au/ as there was just too much information. We were lucky to have our own private guided tour by a very enthusiastic and highly knowledgeable man who showed us almost every inch of the fort tunnels and regaled us with dozens of tales and facts and even some spooky snippets. It was a most fascinating place and well worth a visit. We were there for hours and I'm fairly sure we still didn't get to see everything before the flag was lowered for the night.
Inside the bowels of Fort Scratchley.

On the outside of Fort Scratchley.

Lowering of the flag at the end of the day.

The top of the fort 1.

Top of the fort 2.
View 1 from Fort Scratchley with the sweeping Stockton Bridge in the background.

View 2 from the fort looking across Horseshoe towards The Basin

View 3 from the fort, looking over the city of Newcastle.

View 4 looking over Nobby's Beach towards lighthouse, with freighter leaving port.

Unfortunately we didn't get to see as much of Newcastle as I'd have liked as we had to go with the weather and it was getting close to time up. However, never fear Newcastle.... we'll be back soon.

Out of the bus window back to the marina. I don't know what they're called or who made them but I really liked them

Location: Newcastle NSW, Australia
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