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August 11th 2019
Published: August 11th 2019
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Well, we have travelled south and the polar vortex has blown north and we have met up in Newcastle. It is extremely cold and windy today!

We parked near the Surf Club at Newcastle Beach this morning and watched the surfers as we walked towards the Art Deco Ocean Baths. After taking far too many photos of the surfers, we continued heading out towards Nobbys Head via the Surf Club at Nobbys Beach. As we walked out we thought that we were seeing Fort Scratchley on the headland and the ‘lighthouse’ at the end of the breakwater. Very disappointing we thought, as it looked to be only a beacon.

About halfway out, Cathy turned around and realised that we had walked around the base of Fort Scratchley and it was actually the lighthouse and associated buildings on Nobbys Head that we were walking towards. And what a walk it was with sand being whipped across the path to sting any exposed skin. Fortunately we were well rugged up against the cold so it was only our cheeks receiving a little sandblasted microdermabrasion! On the way out we also saw some BIG pencils alongside the path.

Out at Nobbys Head we learned that Captain Cook observed it on the 10th of May 1770 and was little impressed by it, recording it as ‘a small round rock or Island, laying close under the land’. Originally called Coal Island, and then later Nobbys Island, the island was connected to the mainland by the Macquarie Pier in 1846. The pier was later replaced by a breakwater which caused sand to accumulate creating Nobby's beach. Now covered in plants the isthmus appears quite natural.

From Nobbys Head we walked back along the breakwater and up to Fort Scratchley. The fort was built in1882 atop Flagstaff Hill to defend the city against Russian attack. It was never used to defend against the Russians, but fired upon the Japanese in June 1942 during the shelling of Newcastle. Abandoned by the army in 1972 the fort was extensively damaged by vandals before being restored between 2004 and 2008. A museum at the site was opened in 2009.

Of course atop Flagstaff Hill it was extremely windy but, intrepid travellers that we are, we continued our exploration of the site until one of the staff came along to tell us that the fort was being closed due to the extreme weather conditions. Talk about risk averse! Sure, it was windy, but we were doing just fine! We managed to snap a couple more photos as we were being escorted towards the front gate.

With rain threatening we decided to return to the car and drive into central Newcastle. We parked near Civic Park and took photos of Newcastle City Hall, the Captain Cook Memorial Fountain, St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and the Newcastle Baptist Tabernacle. And then Bernie found the BIG Egg at the front of the Newcastle Art Gallery. Well actually, this was real art; a sculpture by Brett Whiteley no less, called ‘Black Totem II’ ... which we didn’t find out until we Googled it at the time of writing this blog.

With the weather looking even more threatening we decided it might be an opportune time to seek some shelter and have some lunch. We ate very American-styled burgers at Rascal. Despite the pickles, my cheeseburger was actually very good.

Back out in the cold we ventured towards the Hunter River where we found the Newcastle Museum. The museum had an interesting display about the coal and steel industries in Newcastle and a moving photographic exhibition that revisited people who were affected by the Newcastle earthquake. The participants were photographed holding a photo that they had featured in in 1989 and they told their story about dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake and what they are doing now.

With the afternoon becoming colder and wetter we made our way back to the car and drove up to the Christ Church Cathedral. We took a couple of photos outside, but the interior was securely braced with scaffolding which made it look more like a worksite than a place of worship. It was actually really crowded too as there had been a concert in the church this afternoon.

With the weather deteriorating rapidly we finished up our day of sightseeing at the Newcastle Memorial Walk which was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli in 1915 and the commencement of steel making in Newcastle. Stretching from Strzelecki Lookout to Bar Beach the structure is constructed from steel and stainless steel and memorialises the men and women of the Hunter region who served their country.

Dinner tonight at an Indian restaurant. We had a choice of two, one looked cafeteria style with curries being dished up out of a bain-marie and the other was a restaurant with proper tables and chairs and looked like our food would be cooked to order . We chose the restaurant because it looked more appealing. Fortunately the food was really good too.

The girls were back in town tonight in the ongoing Bolivia tournament.



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It is actually Brett Whiteley’s sculpture titled ‘Black Totem II)


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