Newcastle, NSW: not what I’d expected…

Posted: February 19, 2013 in Uncategorized
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It’s hard to say whether it was the monotonous grinding of an industrial machine or the slurs of a rudely-awoken Australian hollering ‘Shut that fucking thing up!’ that brought me crashing from slumber into reality at 6.15am this morning.  Either way, it wasn’t with complete satisfaction that I recalled my location: Newcastle, New South Wales.

I flew here from Brisbane two days ago, on the winds of various different people espousing the glories of this gorgeous town, complete with stunning foreshore and attractive town centre.  I nearly choked when I first caught sight of the harbour, my driver proudly championing its beauty.  Whether it’s that these people have never seen true beauty or it’s that I have been spoiled rotten by the countryside and coastlines of England remains to be seen.  But Newcastle harbour is not beautiful.  That evening, I saw a flat expanse of grey water bordered entirely with giant industrial monstrosities. 

My hotel, chosen for its proximity to the harbour and foreshore, was in what my companion described as a ‘rugged’ part of town after a certain hour.  I had some difficulty computing what I saw as we approached: a solid grey block surrounded by little other than a KFC, a Pizza Hut and a Macdonalds, the latter referred to as a particularly notorious spot for trouble late at night. 

I’d adopted a quiet half-smiling acceptance of my fate by the time I exited the lift on the second floor and was welcomed by the stench of red bull and cheap aftershave.  Sure enough, just around the corner stood a hoard of young men, talking loudly and all too ready with the quips about the amount of luggage I had.  After dumping said luggage on the first available floor space in my hotel room, I crossed to the window and had nothing left but a bitter laugh as I pulled the curtains to see the back of a deserted building complete with scrawling graffiti and no less than three burnt out cars.  Perfect.  Welcome to Newcastle.

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