Fw: Biking around Newcastle Down Under
Biking Around Newcastle Down Under
You remember Pete and Martina from Havachat whom we met in Fulanga Island, Fiji don’t you? Well Pete came and kindly plucked us from the station and we drove directly to an informal restaurant where the rest of the Maslen family who were in town, that included Martina and Katy were lunching with an Israeli cruising couple who had just thrown in the anchor having sold their boat and were about to fly home imminently.
Pete and Martina have four children, the oldest Ben is a post grad marine biologist and is living and working in Sydney and Kate, who lives at home works at the QWB where we met the South African couple and the hockey ladies a few days before. Jack and Lisa, the youngest are both away travelling for a few months and Martina hangs on their calls and texts from afar to know they are safe. They are due home at the end of January.
Young Eva who has been living with them for six months enjoys her sports and was suitably clad for a yoga session when we arrived.
The next morning a good surf was up and massive coal ships were anchored in the haze on the horizon as we walked from their beachfront home to Eva’s café where she works and had a yummy breakfast before returning to prepare for a swim. Along with the regulars and visitors like us, between the two lifeguard flags in rollers that alarmed my senses. “You have to time it right,” said Katy as she stepped forward to meet the challenge and disappeared through a mountain of water. I can do this I thought and managed to get through a relatively modest water-roller.
The three of them, Rob, Martina and Kate are all much taller than me so they could stand and chat and look nonchalant way further out than short arse me. I splashed about amongst the waves that were choosing who to knock flat next. So my time came and I was rolled and dunked back to the shore gasping and spluttering under the amused gaze of one lifeguard and trying not to re-visit my breakfast. That was it I thought, too old for this, it’s the granny pool for me next time.
Our friends had previously arranged to go to Sydney that evening to see Book of Mormon with Ben and his girlfriend and return next morning so after our swim Martina and I went to a local farmers market of spectacular proportions in a massive warehouse building just round the corner while Rob mended the puncture on one of the bikes. A look around town by bike it would be.
But then fate decided to step in when I misplaced my step from the bike onto what my brain thought would be flat ground, instead the ground sloped and both bike and I landed on our sides on the pavement. I looked up at Rob and he down at me, “Everything alright love?”
“Does it look it?” I asked. Honestly.
I had damaged the side of my foot somehow but decided to see how it developed and if I could cope rather than dash to medical help that might plaster it, tell me to use crutches and worst of all make our future plans over the next month untenable. I didn’t want to know at that stage.
So we freewheeled down the hill away from Bar Beach where the family live and turned right to find Rob’s Osteopath, who poked and prodded and gave him another appointment for two days time. Then on into Newcastle for a looky.
This time we rode around Honeysuckle Prom where we had walked before and found The Grain Store just beyond the old railway station. With our local in Oakham being a pub by the same name we couldn’t miss that opportunity could we! It seemed appropriate to try the Bentspoke Beer as we were on bikes and we accompanied it with some nice crunchy battered chips, didn’t want to be drunk in charge of bikes after all. It was genuinely once a grain store, just like the one in Oakham and is a big friendly place with lots of books and games available for drinkers to pass the time while chatting, very civilised.
To complete our irregular circuit of town we climbed the steep hill that separates Bar Beach from where we were and walked over the Anzac Bridge with its numerous plaques telling of the Australian and New Zealand involvement in both World Wars. Maybe it was the location, high above the rugged coastline with the fabulous views to seaward, but reading those plaques was a very moving experience.
What we hadn’t realised was that to get down to our home at the far end of the bridge were many steps, so Rob with aching back and me with throbbing foot had to ease our bikes down the steps using brakes to avoid any further injuries. It pays to be old and grey and limping sometimes, this really nice young man took one look, “Can I help you with that?” He asked scooping up said bike as if it was a child’s trike and whisking it downwards for me.
We watched an episode of Outlander alone that evening as Eva was out with her friends.
The next morning we decided the local museum needed our attention but found it hard to locate. I asked a lady who had that ‘I know my way around’ look about her and she pointed us in the right direction after we learned she was originally from Newcastle, England and came out just to explore thirty four years ago and stayed, loving the warm climate and laid back outlook on life.
I remember two things about that museum worth mentioning. First a lecture from a friendly lady called Sammi on growing scobys to make Kambucha. If this method of creating a very health giving drink has been going on for thousands of years I wondered how it had skipped my attention! I also wondered what the drink tasted like. Look out Zoonie I will be growing one on you soon, but not in a bucket like the one you see in the picture with the two young boys helping to hold it up.
The one Rob is holding is a few years old. Did you know that scobys can technically live forever? So I might have to leave mine to someone in my will!
The other memorable thing about the museum visit was the part model and part hologram story of the steel industry. The hologram was a man in the control room giving a commentary while an enormous scale model, a quarter the size of the original vat of molten steel, made its way across the room, suspended from the ceiling to be poured into moulds on the other side. Impressive and noisy.
Getting to know the area now we made our way back to Darby Street the street we needed to take us on level road back to the easy rise up hill to number 2 Bar Beach and our waiting friends.