2019 Aus Hairdryer Heat for a Walkabout Newcastle
Hairdryer Heat for a Walkabout
The promised 34’ of shimmering heat arrived but there was a breezy accompaniment to keep things moving. Australian Ravens cawed and crowed with their mournful downscale ending as we walked along the honeysuckle promenade. I apologise for the later photos being slightly blurred, sweaty fingers to blame. Ladybirds were biting me for a drink, the third one took a flight it didn’t expect. The last time I remember that happening was in the hot English summer of ’76.
I wonder what Captain Cook would have thought of Nobby’s Head when only 30 years after his passing by coal was being exported, assuring wealth for the city from the start and 50 years after the wake of the Endeavour flattened out the Macquarie Pier was already half built, making the river entrance much safer. I included the picture of the brig Lady Nelson as she was the ship that accompanied Matthew Flinders when he was surveying the east coast from the Investigator.
Human and nature shared the opportunity for sculpture on the pier as the photos show, the softer rocks of the construction being sensuously shaped by winds and waves. Looking down from the Coastguards control room on a stormy day must be pretty spectacular as the waves crash into the pier and rise up metres vertically to soak their windows.
Walking along the beach watching the rollers thunder to shore and then suck sand back down the slope of the beach in the powerful undertow we decided we would swim at the Ocean Baths to cool off. They were just ahead of us, built on the promontory ninety years ago in the gentle art deco style and maintained faithfully since for the enjoyment of all. Notice the preserved façade (facadism) as we approached the entrance fully expecting to have to pay. But no, the residents obviously pay in their taxes and there were no negative signs saying swimmers could not do anything from bombing to cuddling. So vast and relaxing, the energetic could lane swim at one end and while listening to the rollers pounding on the nearby rocks we could have the laziest, gentlest breast stroke around to cool off without getting buffeted and half drowned in the surf, I’ve been there last time we came if you remember!
Sufficiently cooler for a short while anyway, we walked slowly up and over the grass slope back towards the city to where Rob’s IPhone and Google Earth said we would find the Grainstore and found our second tale of the unexpected after the Supercar Rally, an area of well preserved and lived in colonial, Hispanic architecture, pretty. The welcome at the Grainy and the food were as good as we remember from our first discovering our Oakham namesake back in January. We chatted by phone with Alison and Randall who were in Port Stephens a few miles north of Newcastle and arranged a meeting in Nelson Bay the next day. Peter and Martina were game too as they also know Alison and Randall.
Finally, and right up to date, the long sleek red tram was waiting at its first trans city stop just across the road from our pub and we rode its full short length to the terminal, close to the marina. In operation for less than a year one can only hope that with the investment of public funds so far they will extend it into the suburbs to provide commuter access to the city to make it worthwhile. It must have been built for the residents as Newcastle cannot be described as a tourist town.