Newcastle NSW

Australia’s seventh largest city, and largest non state capital city other than the conurbation of Gold Coast-Tweed Heads, Newcastle lived up to it’s generally underwhelming reputation. It is a sprawling city of ~320,000 people (larger than Newcastle-on-Tyne) filled with strip malls, suburbia, and some preserved heritage in it’s eastern tip. It’s like a mini Sydney without the sights.

The waterfront is a work in progress, a rather lifeless and wind swept place on the banks of the Hunter River, though it is more interesting and beachy on the coastal side.

Newcastle Museum was a highlight of the city, with varied and well presented exhibitions housed in the former headquarters of the Great Northern Railway.

Newcastle City Hall is a striking late 1920s building clad in yellow sandstone, with it’s clock tower a notable part of the Newcastle skyline.

I rather liked the neighbouring circular Civic Administration Centre opened in 1977.

Both are in a smart area surrounding Newcastle Civic Park, one of the nicest parts the city, home to a war memorial and the Captain Cook Memorial Fountain.

Opposite the City Hall, the War Memorial Cultural Centre is an attractive building opened in 1957, home to the main public library in Newcastle.

Next door is the Newcastle Baptist Tabernacle, which has an impressive facade.

On the other side is the Newcastle Art Gallery, opened in 1977 by The Queen, which had two floors of decent exhibition space.

Near to the City Hall is this unusual Art Deco influenced building, though from here heading west heritage was vastly outnumbered and outscaled by modern buildings of no architectural merit or interest.

Heading up the aptly named The Hill was this unusual castle like tower. The Lead Light Tower was originally one of a pair used in the mid-19th century to aid the navigation of ships into the port. It sits in one of the oldest parts of the city, where thankfully many heritage homes and buildings have been preserved.

The best views of the city can be found from the Obelisk, a navigational marker built in 1850, where previously a windmill had stood. It gave clear views of Nobbys Head and the Newcastle Ocean Baths.

Christ Church Cathedral was a huge brick structure, that curiously felt smaller on the inside that the outside suggested. Work started on it in 1868 but it didn’t progress far in 14 years due to financial miscalculations and lawsuits. It was finally finished in 1979 and consecrated in 1983.

There were a couple of large scale pieces of street art heading west.

To end with Gosford Regional Gallery & Arts Centre, an hour and a half south of Newcastle on the NSW Central Coast. It’s a lovely spot, with some wonderful paintings on display when I visited, celebrating 50 years of the Gosford Art Prize.

Outside is the Edogawa Commemorative Garden, a Japanese garden opened in 1994, beautiful even in the rain.

Author: jontycrane

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