Newcastle Off The Beaten Path

  • Beach at Glenrock
    Beach at Glenrock
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  • Yellow Thornbill
    Yellow Thornbill
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  • Superb wrens are also common
    Superb wrens are also common
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Best Rated Off The Beaten Path in Newcastle

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    Lake Macquarie

    by iandsmith Updated May 14, 2003

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    Prize winning shot of sunset
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    For some reason, Lake Macquarie never became a major tourist destination. Australia's largest salt water or seaboard lake, it lies just south of Newcastle City and is, for all intents and purposes, a part of that city, even though it does have its own status as an independent city.
    Water sports abound here, particularly sailing as it is an ideal spot.
    There are many parks around the foreshore but accommodation is limited.
    The main shopping areas are Toronto, Belmont and Charlestown, though places like Warners Bay and Morisset certainly have their share.
    Toronto also has a speedboat facility and water skiing, windsurfing and aqua-jetting are fairly common in some areas around the lake as well.
    It's well worth looking into all the little nooks and crannies around the foreshore as there are many lovely viewpoints and picnic spots.
    The lake is three and a half times the size of Sydney Harbour and you can see pretty sunsets over the water from the eastern shoreline.

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    • Photography
    • Family Travel
    • Sailing and Boating

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    Morpeth

    by iandsmith Updated Sep 21, 2003

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    Lovely federation style balcony and dormer windows

    An afternoon to spare could well be spent at Morpeth, a heritage listed little town where, once upon a time, ships used to go. This was a central port for the Hunter Valley when roads were nondescript and water was the highway of choice. The old bond warehouses still remain though they're now tarted up as boutiques, restaurants and arty shops.
    My favourite pastime is to have a devonshire tea overlooking the river. If you get lucky (my viewpoint) you might get cheeky blue wrens sharing your fare.
    The variety of tourist-oriented shops is enough to while away a couple of hours for even the most jaded shopper.
    They often have little festivals up there as well, one of the most popular being the Jazz Festivals in autumn and spring.

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    Baroona continued

    by iandsmith Written Aug 15, 2004

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    Subsequently Mudie was not reappointed to the magistracy. In 1837 he sold Castle Forbes and returned to England where he published a distorted and vitriolic attack on perceived enemies, particularly within the magistracy. Upon his return to Sydney in 1840 he found his actions had alienated old friends. He was publicly horsewhipped by John Kinchela, the son of one of the judges he had decried. When Kinchela was found guilty of assault the 50-pound fine was paid by subscription. Mudie returned to England in 1842.
    Albert Dangar, son of surveyor Henry Dangar, acquired Rosemont in 1869 and had Benjamin Backhouse design Baroona using the walls of Rosemont as the basic building block. J. Horbury Hunt designed the stables in 1887 and Frederick Menkens designed the tower and spiral staircase in 1893. The exterior is sandstone and stucco, the joinery of cedar and the fireplaces of marble. The cellar is convict-built. Two-time Melbourne Cup winner, Peter Pan, was foaled and died at Baroona. There is a story that the owner dreamed of the win before the race!

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    • Seniors
    • Architecture

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    Guess who's coming to dinner?

    by iandsmith Written Sep 5, 2004

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    ...and how much for dessert s'il vous plais?

    There I was, sitting riverside at Morpeth, enjoying another blissful spring day, midst the ambience of the balcony set of the cafe when something came to join us. Now, I don't know about you, but having something this nice coming to join you is quite O.K.
    As the pretty blue wren twittered and tittered we placed scraps on the hand rail as it cheekily ran up and ate them.
    It sure beat our kookaburra experience (see Port Stephens pages) or our Blue Mountains experience with the currawong.

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    • Birdwatching

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    Hunter Valley - Winery

    by kielorla Written May 7, 2004

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    Winery

    There are lots and lots of wineries in Hunter Valley that we cant decide which is the best. The local told us that this one is the better one. And how rite he is, the wine is very great especially the white. Always trust the local............

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    Morpeth II

    by iandsmith Updated Aug 2, 2004

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    Preservation jazz band

    ......and when the jazz is on, they're to be found anywhere in the street, above the street or beside the street, along with stalls selling foodstuffs and clothing. The bands rotate constantly so boredom is never an issue at a Morpeth Jazz Festival.
    Some of the shops you can visit when not listening to the bands are Morpeth Art Studio at 139 Swan Street, Morpeth Trading Post at 7 Robert St (you will definitely see some odd things here), Miss Lily's Lollies (I can't think of why I'd want to go there!) at 2a Green Street and Morpeth Gallery that each year towards the end of August stages a "Weird and Wonderful Novelty Teapot Exhibition" with well over 4,000 exhibits.
    The oldest building in Morpeth is Larrikin's Restaurant and The Slab Hut in Green Street that dates back to around 1818.

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    • Seniors
    • Music
    • Beer Tasting

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    Sunset photos

    by iandsmith Updated Jun 23, 2009

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    Sunset at Warners Bay
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    If you enjoy photography then a great way to spend an afternoon is to go to the Squid's Ink Restaurant, the Lake Macquarie Yacht Club or Belmont Sixteen Footers at Belmont or any of the several at Warners Bay and watch the sun go down. Sometimes it is a bit special, other times only average, but at least you get a nice feed while you're waiting!
    Both of these places are on Lake Macquarie and Warners Bay is better in the summer time while Belmont is preferred in the cooler months due to the angles of the sun.
    Speers Point, just around from Warners Bay, has seats where you can sit down and wait for the sunset or simply chill out.
    I hope you enjoy the activity as much as I do.

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    A true gem - Lake Macquarie Art Gallery

    by iandsmith Updated Nov 10, 2003

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    Sculpture in the park

    Set on a small protruding point at the northwest end of Lake Macquarie, the idyllic location of the gallery will delight and enchant you before you even get near it. Walking along the mosaic embedded pathway (done by students from nearby schools), past the neo-classical entrance to historic Awaba House (see restaurant tips) while taking in the view of the Moreton Bay figs and pine trees backdropped by the indigo waters of the lake and the yachts in the adjacent marina at Marmong Cove makes the trip worthwhile on its own.
    Indeed, the verdant manicured lawns gently sloping to the shore are alive with picnickers and children frolicking among the occasional statues, especially on balmy autumn days such as when I last visited. To be sure, they are locals, as I suspect that international visitors to this treasure could almost be counted on one hand per annum.
    Then there's the gallery. Not huge, but beautifully lit and roomy and with many displays that attract a vibrant cross section of the arts community.
    I happened to be there to view the Archibald Prize, Australia's most famous arts award, given for portraiture. I have to say that the standard is very high and they have a Packers' Award, People's Choice and the outright winner. Invariably and inevitably, the three never co-incide and, for mine, the people and the packers have a better eye than the judges, but each to his own opinion.
    The packers, incidentally, are the guys who pack and unpack the portraits at the State Gallery in Sydney for the judging.
    When you finished all of the above you can take tea or have lunch at the lovely restaurant overlooking all at Awaba House.

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    Log jam

    by iandsmith Written Sep 22, 2002

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    Where's the fish?

    I have no idea what section to put this in, I just thought I'd like to share this extraordinary photo with you.
    Back in the '80's we had a flood of significant proportions. As the water came down the Hunter River it pushed some of the debris down a side channel called Throsby Creek. Then the tides added to the thrust and more trees etc. were pushed into the gap with the result that you could have almost literally walked on water down where the trawlers are normally anchored.
    These days there are more trawlers there and the Fishermen's Co-op has new premises and beyond there is a new marina but, should circumstances like this recur, the same will still happen again.

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    Ash Island - the mangrove story

    by iandsmith Updated Aug 2, 2005

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    On the boardwalk at Ash Island
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    This is place of rarity. A place few Novocastrians have been to yet it is within just a few kilometres of the CBD.
    It lies in the Hunter River Delta and, though I find it rather amazing, at one stage this 750 hectare site was home to 55 families working 17 dairies. To go there today is to wonder where on earth they all fitted.
    These days there is a project on to restore this habitat to some of its former glory, called the Kooragang Wetland Rehabilitation Project. Commencing in 1993 the idea is to restore fisheries habitat (over 1300ha of which was lost) and replant some of the lost rainforest species. It is estimated that in the 1860's there were 170 rainforest species but by the time rehabilitation commenced, barely 30 were left. The only significant remnant is a sad looking strangler fig.
    The good news is that over 50,000 plants have been inserted in the soil and every third Sunday of the month there is a planting held where refreshments are provided.
    Another aspect is the Hunter Bird Observers Club who have recorded over 180 species on the island.
    One of the few buildings left these days is the Old Schoolmasters House, built in the 1890's with marble fireplaces and cedar woodwork. It housed schoolmasters until 1935 then tenant farmers before being restored and made the base for the Kooragang Wetlands Information Centre.

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    • Birdwatching
    • Road Trip
    • National/State Park

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    Mangroves helpful - what a lot of rot!

    by iandsmith Written Jul 31, 2005

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    Not an ugly swamp, a whole lifestlye.

    600 tonnes of rot roughly. That's per hectare per annum. It's the rubbish that drives the eco-system and Newcastle had a substantial amount of it but, of course, ignorance initially saw humans waste some of this valuable resource.
    It was seen as something that farms could be made out of, at least on the edges anyway.
    They have amazing systems of dealing with the salt of the estuaries. Their specialized roots have filters that eliminate a lot of salt and then, for the stuff that gets through, it's sent to specific leaves; these are the ones coloured yellow on their way to becoming brown and dropping off and thus this becomes another way of the plant ridding itself of the salt.

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    • Hiking and Walking
    • Eco-Tourism

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    Morpeth III

    by iandsmith Written Jul 11, 2005

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    Rustic Morpeth

    What captures my imagination about the place is probably the architecture that retains its historical ambience.
    The convict-hewn sandstone, still with the chisel marks of someone thrown upon these shores nearly 200 years, evokes thoughts of a time when life was so much harsher.
    In Australia at least, things are much better now. Oh that it could be the same everywhere else!

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    • Historical Travel
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    Fingal Bay

    by iandsmith Updated Dec 29, 2004

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    If you can put op with the crowds......

    I remember getting this picture back and thinking how lucky we are in Australia. Imagine this beach in Europe in the middle of July yet, here in the middle of December, on a lovely summers' day in Australia it still has a little bit of room. Like, almost the whole beach is empty.
    No, it's not always like that but certainly most of the time and it never gets what would be termed "crowded" by overseas standards.
    Fingal Bay is the easternmost of the beaches at Port Stephens and does have some direct exposure to the ocean though the bay is encircled for a large part by its headland and the island and spit opposite.
    There are plenty of facilities here including accommodation and places to eat but there's not a lot of them. This place is ideally suited to those with a young family as the beach rarely gets big waves and rips are almost non-existent at the southern end.
    To get here you just drive straight through Nelson Bay, then Shoal Bay and Fingal is the next one around, just 45 minutes from Newcastle.

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    • Beaches
    • Water Sports
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    Fox on the run

    by iandsmith Updated Mar 25, 2005

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    I think I see a fox

    South of Newcastle are some wonderful beaches. They don't stop until you reach the Hawkesbury River delta and some are now in the preserve of National Parks and Wildlife. Fraser Park is one such beach but, it is more than just a stretch of sand. There are more wonders in the littoral forest such as the palm grove and dense banksias. Somewhere along the line introduced species have sadly found their way into the mix, playing havoc with native species but, there's little you or I can do about that now.
    This fairly tame feral fox was lurking on the edges of the campsite at Fraser Park.

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    • Eco-Tourism
    • National/State Park
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    Barrington Tops II

    by iandsmith Written Nov 24, 2004

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    Abundant pest

    On top of the plateau, not far from its highest point near Polblue Swamp, you can clearly see the dramatic impact that introduced species can have. Here we see Scotch Broom running amok. Colourful though it is, its growth is deadly to native species and, in a National Park, is not what you come to see.

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    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Road Trip

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Newcastle Off The Beaten Path

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