Monday 16th November 2015
We are settling nicely into our quiet berth on C pontoon, and enjoying making use of the marina facilities. The pontoons open onto a public promenade and it is just a short walk along this to the showers & laundry, small boatyard and large clubhouse. This is a hive of social activity at lunchtimes and each evening, with happy hour from 5-6 p.m. weekdays. It is open at other times for use of the free wifi, which unfortunately is not available on the pontoons.
The yacht club bar during a quiet spell.
We have ventured out of the marina to the nearest shopping mall, which is about a twenty minute walk away. It has two big supermarkets – Woolworths and Coles, and a Big W, which is actually Woolworths as we knew it before it ceased trading in England, selling a wide variety of things. It also has a variety of smaller shops and cafes, pretty much like shopping malls everywhere, but unusually it also has a fishmonger and a butcher.
On the way to the mall we walked past a Spotlight store – exactly the same as in New Zealand, and an enormous outdoor shop where we could kit ourselves out for camping, if we decide to go down that road, at very reasonable prices.
The Down Under Rally welcome week began yesterday, and we went along to collect our name tags and bag of freebies in the morning, then in the evening it was the ‘Fair Dinkum Aussie BBQ’ with food provided by the yacht club and free drinks at the bar. This was well attended (as you might expect!) and it was a good opportunity to meet some of the yachties on the 24 other participating boats.
Today we joined the ‘Discover Newcastle Tram Tour’ and were collected by Chris, the owner and driver of the replica tram, outside the yacht club.
The replica tram picked us up outside the yacht club.
Newcastle is a busy working port, and we drove first through the industrial part of the town, past huge piles of coal waiting to be loaded onto ships for export, mainly to Japan and China. Newcastle is the biggest coal exporting town in Australia, the coal being mined nearby in the Hunter Valley. It also used to be the centre of steel-making, but the steel works have closed. We drove out of town and across the bridge to Stockton on the opposite side of the Hunter River.
Crossing the bridge over the Hunter River. Looking across the river entrance to Nobby’s Head.
We crossed back into Newcastle and drove to Memorial Walk. This is a 450 metre walkway constructed of stainless steel which is a memorial to the men and women of the Hunter area who served in World War 1. The views were wonderful.
Beautiful views out along the coastline. Looking back up to the beginning of the walkway.
The tram was waiting for us at the bottom of the walkway, and we drove next to the Ocean Baths on the other side of town. These were opened in 1922 to provide a safe place to swim at the beach, and are still in use today, the buildings having been partly renovated.
The renovated outside section of the baths. This section of the facade is awaiting renovation.
Waves break at the edge of the pools. There are several different pools.
We stopped for lunch at the ‘beach hotel’ where we ate looking out over the sea.
After lunch we drove back through town and had just a brief introduction to the downtown area. We plan to take a stroll along the foreshore and explore the town centre at a leisurely pace another day. We arrived back at the boat in time for a power nap before heading back to the yacht club for a presentation on cruising New South Wales and Queensland. A busy day!