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Fort Newcastle was better than this!

King of fire, street parties and forts


After our failed attempts at riding the waves in Coffs we decided to head to Newcastle as we'd heard there were good waves there. We were met by Doug, one of the roommates we were to be couch surfing with, and he showed us to the mahoosive house they shared before we headed out for a street festival. It was jam packed with market stalls and although we’d sadly missed out on most of the events we did get to see a breathtaking fire twirling display. They also had some of the tastiest nuts ever and even Rach had some – she hates nuts! After the street festival had shut down we headed to a small chocolatiers and looked sadly at the prices next to the delicious sounding fondues and cocktails. We did however manage to finish off a fondue that Noni (our couch surfing host) had finished with; words cannot describe how good it was to taste proper chocolate again as opposed to the crap they try and pass off as chocolate over here.

After a good night’s sleep we woke up to explore Newcastle and discovered that its true state had been cloaked in the darkness we arrived in. The main street was not what we expected from what counts as a city in Oz. Rach couldn’t help but compare it to her native Newcastle which felt about three times the size. It took us a while to find the visitor information which was on a bit of a backstreet and even when we asked the lady in there what there was to do in Newcastle she seemed at a bit of a loss. She did however warm up to the topic and we left armed with several maps of the area and brochures. We decided after a brief lunch to check out Newcastle Museum which turned out to be a good choice.

The first exhibition contained stuff all about Newcastle and whilst overall it was good to go around there were times when it seemed badly put together with random item descriptions, bad grammar and unlabelled items popping up all over the place. Below is an example;


There was no mention/picture/drawing/etching/image of any kind showing the synagogue nor anything else saying why it might be important, why it was related to the trowel or why it was even mentioned. It was, however, still much better than the Museum of Brisbane (Browsing in Brissie). Things got really exciting when we got to another gallery that was stuffed with interactive science exhibits. They had one of the most dangerous time wasters possible, Lego, and we got sucked into playing with those brightly coloured bricks for half an hour. Our aim; to build a tower taller than Rach – not hard you might say but we wanted a solid construction and so block by block we raised a colossus amongst the other pitiful offerings. It dwarfed even the Duplo constructions and we were the envy of the six to twelve year olds within eyesight who looked upon our creation with a sense of wonderment and awe that verged on the edge of fear.


The rest of the science exhibit was just as fun and we were reduced to kids once more discovering the mechanisms behind magnets, electricity and forces and tried our hands at speed, memory and strength tests. It was really, really fun. We spent so much time involved in the science section that it left us only fifteen minutes to sprint around the steel making section of the museum before we were kicked out with the news that for safety reasons our tower had to be dismantled but that they were so impressed that they took a photo to use on their website.

We had intended to go surfing the following day but after having discovered the board rental market was completely monopolized and thus the price of a board for a day was $50 we decided against it and decided to try and follow the Heritage Trail around Newcastle. You are led through the trail by various signs and posts but after seeing that many of them did not actually show buildings or sights that were still there we decided to forgo the trail and simply walk Nobbys’ Break and the far edge of the harbour. The walk was really nice and we saw a couple of super tankers being guided into the harbour whilst we clambered around on the rocks of the breakwater. After the walk we decided to head for Fort Scratchley, the site of the only mainland weapons of Australia to be fired in anger during World War Two, and after arrival realised we’d just missed the last tunnel tour. There was however a kind volunteer who offered to take us around once we’d paid the tour price. After staring, gobsmacked, at the $24 rung up on the till we declined the offer and set off to explore the free sections of the Fort. They were well signposted and very informative but a lot of the buildings were closed meaning we didn’t get to see a huge amount of the Fort which was a bit sad.


One of the best bits about Newcastle has been our couch surfing hosts though. We have had an amazing time with Noni and her housemates even playing an awesome crossbreed of the Oz drinking game Kings and the English game Ring of Fire, which we christened KINGS OF FIRE! The gecko master rule was by far the most appreciated and there is nothing funnier than the sight of eight people scrambling to throw themselves against the closest wall pretending to be a gecko. We also played the Lying Game where you say three things about yourself, two are true and one is a lie and the others have to guess the lie. We had an amazing time with them and were it not for them our time in Newcastle would have been nowhere near as good.

Rex’s Rules of the Road

  • Newcastle is pricier than other places for board hire so unless you have your own board, you may find yourself staring forlornly at the perfect breakers.
  • It’s probably wise to plan your Newcastle visit better than we did or head there with your own transport.
  • The centre of Newcastle is quite run down. Don’t let this put you off; there’s still enough to keep you occupied for at least a day.
  • Just to give you an example of the lying game here was one Alex used: I’ve ran cross country for Britain, I’ve met the Commander and Chief of all the UK armed forces and my Uncle presents news in East Anglia. We’ll leave you to guess the lie....

Posted by rexontheroad 10:17 Archived in Australia

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