This morning I took my father on a bit of a tour around Newcastle. Born a Sydneysider, now a local of Lake Macquarie for 35 years, I can imagine he has seen much change during his time here. As Lake Macquarie grew and grew with new lakeside suburbs and bushland estates, Newcastle simply soldiered on.
It is no secret, I am told, that Newcastle with its smoggy skies and rough demeanor was once seen as a place to avoid. Growing up in the suburbs of Lake Mac, it is a Newcastle I never really knew for two reasons: rarely did our family have reason to make the trip ‘into town’; and by the time I was old enough to venture in myself, BHP had closed and the City on the road to recovery from a rock-bottom unemployment rate of 17% a few years prior.
Nowadays, Newcastle seems to be on a roll, experiencing quite a revival–in its economy, in its culture, and in the urban fabric itself. So it is with some pleasure that I show my father the Newcastle that I know–alive with people and great places to be. We take the Throsby Creek shared path into town, passing the modern townhouses of Maryville, and head to the coast via the new connections along Honeysuckle. There are people everywhere–walking, cycling, eating, drinking coffee, and there’s a fun run on.
Continuing on, I’m keen to show him progress on Bather’s Way–a significant upgrade to the foreshore between Newcastle and Merewether ocean baths, designed to invite people to walk, cycle and simply enjoy the view (similar to what Lake Macquarie did around the lake foreshore over a decade ago–think Warners Bay). We climb the steep hills of King Edward Park, pausing momentarily to take in the view back to town, and then pass the magnificent new ANZAC Memorial Walk (shown below). Past Bar Beach and to Dixon Park, again there are people everywhere. The separated on-road cycleway along John Parade (parallel to the beach) ensures we don’t need to dance around the many people walking.
After a caffeine hit from Juicy Beans at Merewether (photo below) we make our way back via Hamilton, making a pit stop at the Newcastle Farmers and Makers Market at the Showground–Dad wants to make relish, and he gets lucky, picking up 10kg of tomatoes for $20.
So, in all, a good ride… and this: “I can see why people like Newcastle”.
Clearly, my old man is impressed!