I've lived in Sydney for a big chunk of my 34 years, but until last weekend I'd never been to Newcastle. Which is pretty shameful, since it's only a couple of hours away, and was included (controversially) in Lonely Planet's Top 10 global cities in 2011. Recently it's been getting all kinds of press for Marcus Westbury's Renew Newcastle initiative, which turns vacant shops into spaces for emerging artists and businesses, and The Design Files even did an excellent mini city guide last year in 2012. So it's been on my radar for a while, so I was excited when a friend suggested a day trip to see a couple of exhibitions at the Newcastle Art Gallery. It was such a great day - it's an easy drive from Sydney, especially when there are no small people in the back seat shouting "Spotto!"
I had asked some ex-Novocastrian friends for tips, so we started with coffee at Roladoor, then pottered around Darby Street, saw the Bill Henson (love!) and Brett Whiteley exhibitions at the gallery, and then walked around Hunter Street Mall to look at some of the Renew Newcastle shops and have lunch at One Penny Black. Then there was time for a bit more pottering (but, sadly not enough for a swim) before we hit the freeway and headed home.
I loved walking around the city, it has a great atmosphere and I think it definitely deserves a return visit - maybe a weekend trip with the family. There's lots more to see, I'd love to get to the museum and the beach, and to try out more of the restaurants.