Newcastle West, Australia
To Newcastle! My hostel owner told me that it is similar to the UK’s – ex industrial, changing, perhaps a few years behind the English Newcastle. I think she meant in development, though those who joke that Australians still play Inxs aren’t entirely wide of the mark. Very hard to get a bad cup of coffee here, too, I’m told.
I was on the 11.50 flight. With Jetstar you can pay extra for a seat. If you don’t, and check in early enough, you’ll get an emergency exit row seat and extra legroom, it seems. It has happened to me twice now. I can’t remember why I chose to fly, given that it was only just over an hour, but possibly the coach was the same price for a longer journey when I looked. The airport is a little way from the city but so long as you don’t mind waiting, the public bus will take you there for under $5. Better than the shuttle’s rumoured $40, albeit only going once an hour for each route.
I watched the cricket for a couple of hours. England had 5 Australian wickets down when I landed, Haddin was in and so it (still) was by the time I’d waited for the bus and travelled into town. I watched two hours and saw one more wicket before leaving for the walk the owner had suggested.
Newcastle doesn’t hide its attractions, a walk took me through the shops and onto the waterside with a view of the deepest, if not the prettiest port, in Australia. From there I could see the lighthouse away in the distance; so I ignored it, turning right to the beach and on to the stone-ringed ocean pools. Man-made swimming pools, but filled naturally by the ocean, which crashes against the walls outside.
I climbed the hill behind to the ‘obelisque’, as the owner marked it on my map, with a great view of the sea and city. The city is described in the guide book as having roads disappearing at random up the hills. It is definitely hilly.
I like it. I’ve not been to Sydney, but this place is obviously a great break from any hectic life, but had enough going on to keep you entertained. The hostel has plenty of long term residents but seems friendly enough, just a bit different to my weeks staying in friends’ and Airbnb houses. Tomorrow is parkrun day, at Newy, then a trip to Blackbutt reserve, a rainforest environment.