It is the month of February and here in Newcastle it is a time of heat, of big waves, of blazing sun rises, of fragrant frangipani, long days and of pale hot skies. I have unpacked my bag, recovered from jetlag induced by an almost 26-hour trip, the little cat is settled and very happy and I have filed away four months of memories but best of all, I am home and I find no words sufficient enough to express how truly lovely that feels.
I have always had a belief with travel and that is, I try to never go back to a place I have loved or enjoyed because in going back it will never quite be the same and it will somehow disappoint. That however, cannot be said of my return to Newcastle. All of my life I have searched for a place that was home and for a feeling of belonging. There has been a consciousness for me in knowing that Newcastle is my home and it is the one place I have long wished for. Some say your home is not a place but it is people however for me, home is an existence of where I can set my roots and it is where my heart is. When you love somewhere, its beauty becomes deeply buried in your soul and you have a terrible ache when away from it which was exactly what I felt when in America. For all of the places I have lived or travelled to, and there have been many, I was homesick for the first time in my life.
My attachment to Newcastle comes from its ability to have wrapped itself around me. It has enveloped me in its charm and loveliness and this city continues to show itself many times over why I love it here. The moment I arrived back, I walked out into the summer sunshine of this old coal and steel town and I knew that this was where I was truly meant to be.
My blogs will now include quite a bit of this lovely city and for those unfamiliar with Newcastle, I will give you a little bit of run down on it. Newcastle is Australia’s second oldest city with a 200-year-old past including maritime, indigenous and convict history. It is famous for its coal and steel and it is the largest coal exporting harbor in the world. In 2011, Newcastle was named by ‘Lonely Planet’ as one of the worlds top 10 cities to visit.
I find Newcastle to be a laid back and very uber cool city but as with most places, its past suggests it hasn’t always been like this. Perhaps to say it was once a little rough around the edges would best sum it up.
This area holds to some of the most stunningly beautiful coastline and ocean swells and it can proudly boast to having some of the hottest surf spots around and these places are where I love to be. Newcastle is also bursting with museums, iconic pubs, art galleries, markets, a great live music scene, bars and incredible national parks. It has culture, cafes, festivals, ship wrecks, restaurants and beautiful and historic architecture. Sydney is almost a 2-hour drive away and the Hunter Valley – which is one of Australia’s major wine producing regions – is less than a scenic hours’ drive. It would also appear that even the local Emo’s and Goths, notoriously joyless and difficult to please, appear to be very happy here too which is about as best a recommendation as you can find. From the heathlands to the ocean shore, there is something restorative to the soul for everyone.
For me, one of the ultimate joys of Newcastle is that every single bit of it is accessible via the old foot falcon….my preferred mode of transport. Where else can such history and beauty be well and truly under foot. Newcastle is also very push bike friendly. A push bike and me, well that’s about as safe as a circus clowns’ cannon, but for those who love to cycle there are miles and miles of on and off-road pathways, tracks and trails all over Newcastle and its surrounds.
I am so incredibly fortunate to live by the port and I love the late quiet at the end of the day when I can watch the small independent fishing boats leave their shelter and head out to open sea. In the early morning dawn, I watch for their return and this routine has become one of my most joyous of pleasures. I guess in the big of the world you can find small contentment sometimes.
Newcastle, you sure know how to win a girl over……
It seems to me, among the many complications of life, there is a tenuous aching pull to be where we belong and we are all certainly worthy of belonging. Sometimes you need to let go, be and just belong…..xx