the big move

So lets talk about how different my life will be next year. Because I’m moving. In case you missed that.

About where I live now.

Well, I live in the Hunter Valley area of NSW, Australia. The area I live in is within the biggest coal producing area of Australia. I wake up to a beautiful dust bowl effect every day. We have the highest rate of asthma in kids under five in Australia as well. YAY, go us. We do underground mining and open cut. I can drive five minutes out of town and see the ground messed up in all kinds of ways. Lets just say that if you vote for the Greens Party here, you’re wasting your vote. And if you walk down the street and you’re not wearing reflective safety gear, then you’re going to feel overdressed.

And it’s always hot. My father watches the weather reports on the news and he rings me and says – why do you live in that place, it’s always either the hottest or the coldest in the area.

We have no public transport, no decent shopping centre and no decent restaurants or cafes. Basically we’re a little shithole that makes a shitload of  money for the government but get none of it back in amenities or services.

We do have good sportsmen and women though. Australian country towns produce a lot of our best sportspeople. Nothing else to do you see and with no public transport, no way of getting anywhere to do anything else. Kimba wanted to come home for a long weekend once but when we rang about the train timetables they said there wouldn’t be any passenger trains running because the coal trains will be monopolizing the tracks that weekend.

But next year we’re moving into Newcastle. Which by the way, has just been named number nine in the Lonely Planet Guide of cities to visit for 2011. So come on over!

Is it Australia’s most underrated city? Anyone surprised to see Newcastle on the list of 2011′s hottest cities (and there’s a few of you, right?) probably hasn’t pulled in off the Pacific Highway, or at least not for a while. Newcastle flies under the radar of Aussies and international travellers in part because it’s overshadowed by its bigger, bolder and better-known sibling, Sydney, 150km south. But, at around one-tenth the size, Australia’s second-oldest city has Sydney-like assets: surf beaches, a sun-drenched subtropical climate, and diverse dining, nightlife and arts.

‘You gotta love this city’, the Whitlams’ front man croons, and what’s not to love? Outstanding heritage architecture in the CBD, a beautiful foreshore and some classy inner-city suburbs fashion a very comely package indeed, and Novocastrians know it.

Newcastle was settled in 1801 as a colony for the worst-behaved convicts. This past has tinged the surfing lifestyle with a hint of larrikin mischief and a ‘no worries’ attitude. The city is so laid-back that it’s one of the few places in the developed world where you can grocery shop barefoot and no one blinks an eye.

Visit popular beaches and soak in ocean baths, dine at world-class restaurants, exhaust yourself courtesy of live and local music, and explore the innovative arts scene. Whatever you do, don’t just pass through – Newcastle is easily worth a couple of days or more.

Beaches – I love the beach. And having a beach right near the city centre gives the place a laidback feel. No one’s too full of themselves. If I was living there now I could be at the beach. And diverse dining and nightlife. I’ve almost forgotten what that is. I’ll actually be able to get something to eat that’s more exotic than a chicken schnitzel. And I’ll be able to get it after 9pm.

And I can go to markets and the theatre and museum exhibitions and the art gallery. I can sit on the foreshore on a sunday afternoon and listen to live music and have a drink. And where we’ll be living is just a five minute drive away from it all. Although I’ll probably be taking the bus. Bus stop right outside our door. Don’t have to worry about parking then.

Where we live now has been great for us while the kids were growing. But now they’re gone or independent there’s just nothing keeping us here. Time for a change. Time for the next chapter to begin.

I’m starting to get a little bit excited actually. Maybe I should go and pack another box.

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20 thoughts on “the big move

  1. You sound like me when I was moving out of Minnesota, except I was saying farewell to freezing cold winters and humid summers with thunderstorms and tornadoes. There was more culture and museums out there however than where I live now, so I do miss those. But you do sound like you should be excited. Just remember, there’s nothing wrong with deciding to chuck out or give away things instead of trying to pack them. That was my big mistake. Why did I think I needed a down coat and snow boots out here? Or five boxes full of textbooks on literary theory?

    • Definitely wouldn’t miss tornadoes! We have very stormy summers but no tornadoes or cyclones.

      I’m trying to be sensible while packing. Today I threw out a LOT of magazines. I’m horrified really about the amount of money I’ve wasted on them over the years. I’ll take the rest to the library, they sell them and use the money to buy more books. My books are going to be the hard part.

  2. You’ve done your kids a wonderful service raising them in a dusty little shithole – I grew up in a teeny mud-bowl and I never take anything about ‘city life’ for granted. Public transport! Reliable electricity! 24 hour supermarkets! McDonald’s!

    I must question this, however: “it’s one of the few places in the developed world where you can grocery shop barefoot and no one blinks an eye”
    I don’t think the author is Australian…I’m pretty sure it’s harder to find a place where anyone *would* blink an eye.

    • 24 hour bottle shops!
      One thing I haven’t had to worry about is reliable electricity. Living right near a ginormous power station takes care of that. Mind you we’ve probably all got brain cancer or something from it.
      Lolling about the barefoot shopping as well.

  3. Boy now I had to bug Mapquest with something I think I should have known… but still. NSW. North? South? West? *scratching* something’s not right LOL But I figured it out.

    This description of Newcastle sounds like it is my city. Beach, laid back and being able to walk around bare feet without being treated like an insane person? Yay

    • Can’t wait. It used to be a real working class city as well so that adds to the vibe. Big steelworks used to be there and employed just about everyone. When they closed down the place had to find a new direction and it’s just starting to really go ahead. But still keeping more of a town feel than a city feel.

  4. I’m excited for you!!

    Even though I’ve always lived in urban areas, moving to a beach community was a WONDERFUL improvement. For the first few weeks, the music drove me insane (I lived across the street from a bar) but then I came to love it. When I moved to my house, some 5 miles away, what I missed the most was “my life’s background music”… losing those pubs and their bands, and even the convo of people on the street, still makes me kinda sad.

    • I love the beach. I spent a lot of time at the beach during my teens but then moved to Sydney then to here. Just being able to go to the beach after work on hot days or go to The Beaches hotel. Eat at one of the many many little cafe’s. Be able to have Vietnamese or Thai food when I want. Plenty of noise where we’re going. It’ll take me a while to get used to traffic noise again. When we bought the place it was advertised as having – urban views. Lots of traffic, buildings covered in graffiti, skateboard park across the road, surf shop etc, but thats what we liked about it.

  5. “The city is so laid-back that it’s one of the few places in the developed world where you can grocery shop barefoot and no one blinks an eye.”

    If there is one single reason I’d move to this place, it is the above.

  6. Ha! I’m going to be in the Hunter next week… Singleton actually. And will be doing Newcastle, too. I’ve always wanted to see the F18s at Williamtown but work always got in the way. Shall see what happens this time. The Newcastle waterfront has gone a bit upmarket actually. But I do like that they’ve kept “Harry’s Cafe de Wheels” there…

    • What will you be doing in Newie? It’s really starting to find it’s feet now. It struggled a bit after BHP closed trying to work out what to do with itself. Daz loves Harry’s.

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