So far, my Australian tour had been a whirlwind of city visits, taking in the capitals of all the states in this amazing country. I decided that I needed to throttle back just a bit and maybe take in a smaller city, just to catch my breath again!
In my research before my visit, Newcastle had always seemed a likely destination for a smaller city visit. Newcastle itself is situated a mere 101 miles north-east of Sydney and I chose a bus as my form of transport to get there.
Although I wanted to slow the pace down, I had decided to stick to my “24 hours in a city rule.”
My 24 hours in Newcastle went a little like this…
I had caught the 5:30am bus to Newcastle and had arrived by around 8am in the morning.
First things first, I needed coffee and some breakfast. Newcastle has a number of little cafés all throughout the city. There was one right by the bus stop, so I stopped for a quick cup of coffee and a good bacon and egg breakfast! I was charged and ready for the day. I had to remind myself that I would take everything a little slower. Sometimes with the 24 hour rule it is easy to get carried away!
A trip to another country means that you better bring mementoes and presents for your family back home when you return. I really wanted to get something special for the youngest and oldest members of my family. I found a beautiful shop with a stunning brooch for Grammy. I knew she would love it. She has been collecting brooches for as long as I can remember and she has an enormous collection which she is always very happy to add to.
I was feeling hungry again! Shopping can really give you an appetite. I decided to head to Darby Street as I had heard that a number of excellent restaurants offering a wide variety of cuisine could be found there. I settled on a small Vietnamese restaurant where I ate a number of traditional dishes. All of them were exquisite and were the best Vietnamese food that I had eaten anywhere in the world. Next door to the restaurant was a baby blanket shop called Bundle & Co. It was such a lovely little place with high quality products. My niece had been born while I was away, and my sister would kill me if I didn’t bring a present. I ended up buying around 5 baby blankets, each with classic children’s characters printed on them. Tina will love them!
Well I definitely slowed things down. Two hours for lunch, probably a bit long but definitely worth it. Since it was a beautiful, sunny day, I decided to hop on a bus and take a ride down to Nobby’s beach. I spent a few hours catching a some rays, swimming and eating some ice-cream. I even made a few new Australian friends. They invited me out on a late afternoon wine tour in the Hunter Valley region. I couldn’t resist.
We set off in an old camper van to the Hunter Valley wine region outside Newcastle. The whole area around Hunter Valley is so beautiful and although we didn’t have much time, we managed to stop at two wine farms and sample their wares. It was a happy bunch that returned to Newcastle later that night.
Myself and my new found Australian friends all ended up at a house in Newcastle and had a proper Australian barbeque. There was so much to eat, I could not believe it. I really enjoyed the shrimps the most, they were not only huge, but so tasty. We chatted late into the night and eventually I found a place on a couch and fell asleep.
I almost missed my bus back to Sydney! Luckily, I got a lift to the bus stop on the back of a motorbike. I made it just in time. I slept for most of the two hour trip back. So much for a slow, relaxed trip to Newcastle, but what a blast it was!