This morning, for the second morning in a row, I rose from my slumber unusually early. Yesterday it was 2:45am for the ANZAC day dawn service, but today’s wake-up alarm was a slightly more reasonable 5:45am. Laugh at me all you will, my friends, but I had all intentions of heading on down to Circular Quay along with 5,000 screaming teenage girls in order to catch the Justin Bieber gig that Sunrise was putting on.
Just before I was due to leave home though, I heeded to the fact that the riot police had cancelled the event due to the overly raucous crowd refusing to abide by safety announcements, resulting in a number of tween girls getting crushed. I was quite disappointed – not at the ironic hilarity that fans had flown across the country for this moment only to screw it up for themselves – but because I genuinely did want to see him perform. I’d heard so much about him via Twitter and wanted to see for myself what the hype was about.
Which left me in a debacle as to what to do with my day seeing as it was so early and I was already wide awake. So I randomly decided to hop on the next train to Newcastle!
The first thing that struck me was the painfully slow three & a half hour train journey just to travel 160km. If I was still living in London I could have passed through three whole countries in that time, for heavens sake! A lot of the scenery was pretty spectacular though, especially around the Hawkesbury River area, so I couldn’t really complain.
Approaching the city though, the train line ran past the ugly rears of run-down, graffitied old shops & buildings, and my first impression as the locomotive pulled into my destination was as follows:
That really is what I thought. I was now beginning to understand why Daniel Johns’ music is so out there – clearly, growing up in Newcastle makes artists go crazy.
Following a minuscule and overpriced breakfast at a waterfront cafe, I felt like I’d not only wasted a good sleep-in, but written off a whole bloody day! Still, I thought I’d make the most of my time there and at least walk around the city for an hour or so and take some photos.
Thankfully, my dim impression of Newcastle was soon to change 😀
It turned out to be a gorgeous little town. I climbed the 40m tall Queens Wharf observation tower, then made my way down the Hunter Street mall, discovering some amazing buildings from the earlier part of last century, before making a detour to a beach nearby the famous Ocean Baths. I continued along toward Nobbys Head and journeyed up the breakwater, discovering some inspirational and heartfelt graffiti written on the rocks along the way. I returned back through the local funfair, and finally climbed the hill to the very impressive Christ Church Anglican Cathedral.
On the train bound for home I overheard something really cute and so typically Australian. We passed through the Novocastrian suburb of Cardiff, and an old man sitting across from me said to his wife, “Do you know where they get the name Cardiff from? It’s actually a small town all the way over in Wales which is a part of England!”
I now take back what I initially said about the unofficial capital of the Hunter region. You’d think I would have learnt by now after so much travel, but it just went to reinforce the fact that it does pay to break outside the walls of your immediate surroundings when you first arrive at a destination.
So thanks to the Bieber Brigade and their crowd-crushing, warning-ignoring ways which led them to ruin their own and everybody else’s fun, I was able to make the delightful discovery today that Newcastle is definitely not a hole!
PS. and unlike Rihanna, who inspired a previous blog about my travels in Rome, I really don’t mind this Justin Bieber kid at all 🙂