Fort Scratchley was the only military installation on the East Coast of Australia that actually fired guns in anger during WWII when a Japanese Submarine surfaced & shot shells at Newcastle. I guess they were after the Port installations or the Shipyards.
But we must travel back to 1882 when Fort Scratchley was opened after fears of Russian attacks. While the guns were installed then, the soldiers barracks and officers residents were built in 1886. I wonder where they were before then & how long it would have taken them to get to the guns if the Russians had actually attacked. Lucky they didn't eh? lol!
But seriously, I want to get back here & have an indepth look through this historic part of Newcastle.
I could see the contestants in the water from where we were working in Noah's on the Beach.
This photo is one of them doing a cutback so please enlarge it to have a look at his style.\
This year sees Newcastle celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Surfest" & some of the surfers were actually staying at Noah's which was, as explained above, right across from the action. Not conducive to work I must admit! The master of understatement strikes yet again, but being a surfer from farther back than I care to remember you can't really blame me can you?
If you're interested in any further info' & results then check the website below.
You know how I rave about Sydney's beaches. Well I have to admit that Newcastles' aren't too bad either.
And there's a bit of history to be found too. At the northern end of Newcastle Beach straight out from where I was staying & working is one of a series of Ocean Pools. I think this one is called the Bogey Hole, but I'm not too sure. What I do know, as was related to me by Peter Chapman a local & Principal of Mannering Park Public School, is that this was on of a number that were dug out of the rock by convicts well over 150 years ago. The really interesting fact about this one is that apparently they chiselled a map of the world on the bottom of this one, but unfortunately it is more often than not covered by sand washed in by the high tides & waves.
You can also take advantage of the five kilometres of Newcastle Beach's walking path, called Bathers' Way to explore more of the beachfront. You can download a map for this wal from the website below.
Well I say the above with tongue planted in cheek, but when you click on this photo to enlarge it then you may well see the connection.
I took this photo from a couple of hundred metres south of it on the road coming around the beachfront from the Hotel I stayed.
I don't know if this LIghthouse, which stands out so clearly on the Headland, is open to the public, but I do know that you can walk up there & have a look around it.
There I was, ogling the latest exhibition at Newcastle Gallery and I thought, "I haven't put this on VT yet!". So I'm now correcting that error.
The two storey gallery in Laman Street, Cooks Hill always seems to have a very eclectic mix of works. I just happened to be viewing 3 of Rodin's sculptures when I realised I hadn't seen that many in one room ever.
The great photographic exhibition and "Coral Garden" that were there at last visit exceeded Rodin's works in my opinion, but one thing you can always rely upon is that one of the great Australian painters will be on show. For instance, Lloyd Rees, Russell Drysdale, Sidney Nolan, William Dobell, Arthur Boyd, Rupert Bunny, Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Conrad Merton were all on show, along with one of my all time favourite, Albert Tuckers "Explorers fording river".
This is not a huge gallery, but a very eclectic one and, if you are artistically inclined, there will be something there to interest you.
In my general pages is the story of Bill Dobell, a famous local artist who was influenced by many and, in turn, influenced many himself.
His style, as evidenced in "The Strapper", didn't appeal to all and, when one of his works was awarded Australia's highest award, the Archibald prize for portraiture, it was taken to court and disputed that it wasn't a portrait but a caricature. Luckily for Bill, and I suspect, art in general, the award stood.
Newcastle had long wanted a marina. Though it's not an ideal location for sailing, once you get offshore there's all the room in the world's oceans to play around in.
The slow increase in population never decreased the demand though and, finally, a few guys got together and made the marina a reality.
Was it popular? Consider this. Before even one pylon had been made fast, every berth was sold. At $60,000 a pop originally, rumour has it that some are going for more than $120,000 less than five years later.
There's also new restaurants, new apartments, the fishermen's co-op has moved there. It's part of the dramatic changes that have happened but still, at the rear of this shot, you can glimpse Newcastle's industrial heritage with the bright blue floating dock where ships come in for repair. The company's name is Forgacs
which you can clearly see on the side.
Right smack in the middle of the city there is a park. Actually there are several parks. One that has views to die for and wonderful landscaping is King Edward Park.
It overlooks the Pacific Ocean just south of Newcastle Beach and is dotted with tall pines and barbecue and picnic areas.
It's no surprise therefore to find that many people like to spend Saturday and Sunday afternoons here and many wedding parties choose to use this as a spot for their photograph session, particlularly around the rotunda (pic 3) which forms a lovely frame for many a shot.
There's a steep natural bowl in the middle of the park and it features the Sunken Garden, always a lovely spectacle in spring. Pics 1,2,4,5 show you what it looks like in December.
All in all, a splendid place for a walk or just relaxing.
Well, actually you shouldn't. Koala's have weak spines, don't really like to be cuddled and can have smelly bums as well.
It's just that all that lovely fur looks so cosy.
Best to leave them curled up while their stomach acids attack the otherwise unpalatable eucalypt leaves that they exclusively feed on. Not all eucalypts mind, only a few species will do which is why they're very habitat consious.
The best option is to view them at somewhere like Blackbutt, take a snap, and leave them be.
Stretching from the commanding lighthouse at Nobbys Headland to the coastal wilderness of Glenrock Reserve and the early coal workings at Burwood Beach, Newcastle’s Bathers Way is a scenic 5km coastal walk waiting for you to discover, play, swim and eat any way you choose
When I say these are world class, I don't say it lightly. Having seen many of the European Gardens featured in tourist brochures I can assure you that if colour and flowers are your thing, the Hunter Valley Gardens at Pokolbin will not disappoint.
This shot is from the border garden. For more pics and info, see my Pokolbin pages.
Surfest began back in 1985 as an initiative of Newcastle City Council, who were looking for a ‘major event’ to host within the city. Well... they got it all right!
In 1985 to mark the events 10th anniversary, organisers renamed the main event in honour of Newcastle’s Mark Richards - calling it the Mark Richards Newcastle City Pro. Whilst not the richest in cash terms, the event embodied the hospitality of Newcastle as a city and competitors came in their throngs…to get a piece of the WQS 4 Star ratings and prizemoney but also to pay tribute to 4 time world champ Mark Richards. Since then, Surfest has grown substantially. For the fourth year in a row, organisers have secured a festival naming rights sponsor in EnergyAustralia. As well, EnergyAustralia also have naming rights to the main event - the EnergyAustralia Open, a four (4) star WQS event attracting over 300 competitors - making it Australia's largest professional surfing event.
The Hunter Valley has some of the finest Australian Wines. You can do a day trip or you can stay a few days to take in all the sights.
A few helpful links for the Hunter Valley are:
Not much can be said on the pleasures of whale watching.
Shoal Bay provides elevated areas from which one can view the migration of the Southern Right Whales as well as the Hunchback Whale.
This is done at no expense from hills onshore.
Plaques, such as the one on the picture help identification and add a little information.
Some Facts on the Bush Stone Curlew.
Also called the bush thick knee or Willaroo.
Scientific name is Burhinus grallarius.
The bird is now one of Australia's Endangered Birds.
Its height is around 60cm. Bigger than a lapwing, smaller than an ibis.
It makes a distinctive wailing "weer-lo" call, mainly at night.
It eats large insects, spiders, snails, small reptiles, small mammals, frogs, small fruits and seeds by poking around amongst the leaf litter and under logs.
Generally reluctant to fly and spends most of its time on the ground.
Lives up to 30 years and generally remains in the same territory with its mate.
A breeding pair of birds will spend most of their time within a territory of about 25ha.
Lay two eggs at a time, in a simple scrape in the ground.
Chicks often killed by foxes, dogs and cats.
When birds aren't breeding they will forage over a larger area of several hundred hectares.
Lives in lowland, grassy woodland areas and riparian forests with few or no shrubs.
These days they are mostly found on private land and, in particular, Magnetic Island off Townsville where they have another, not-quite-so-scientific name. Due to their unique call they are labelled the rape bird. I'll leave the rest to your imagination, then again, perhaps that's not a good turn of phrase!
There is another fact - you can see them up close and personal at Blackbutt. Thus it was when I took Sarah, a fellow VT-er from Canada, I was surprised as I had never seen one before. Both of us were having a wonderful time, Sarah seeing birds she never knew existed and me seeing feathered creatures I had only heard about. Then again, that's what you should expect at Blackbutt.
As compared to the city, birds tend to make Port Stephens their town and make you feel the endangered species.
As in the picture, this Kookaburra sits patiently on a fence, sunbathing and ignoring me as if I was an ant on a mission.