escape to Newcastle

Known as second city of New South Wales, Newcastle is a serene three hour train ride from Sydney. Here’s a bit of my journal from that day trip….

Decided to take train as far as I could away from Sydney today. Heading for Newcastle; the beer by that name is pretty good. We’ll see what the town is like. Lost the city feel of Sydney within a couple of train stops. By Hornsby, it felt like Mayberry. Had twenty minutes to wander around before continuing north. Nice town but still expensive…. $4 cokes.

Past Hornsby, travelled the ridge of a great expanse of mountainous forestland. It reminded me of Washington, Mo, or Chattanooga, Tn. The tracks take us along Hawksberry River, a vast lake area similar to the Cumberland near Chattanooga. Tree-covered limestone cliffs terminate at waters edge, with tracks holding precariously to one side. Summer cabins dot the shore, moorings sit waiting for the coming weekend, the last of summer.

Two hours later, and I finally found serenity. With the exception of the occasional car passing, the loudest sound from my bench on the edge of Newcastle is the sound of the Pacific ocean crashing on the beach.

It’s a perfect day, warm but not hot. The wind off the ocean cools the air temp by a few degrees and brings the fresh smell of the sea. A line of clouds at the horizon… Maybe they’ll come ashore, maybe not. There’s a small flotilla of craft ranging in size from a Sea Doo to a freighter.

Oddly enough, it is the second city, but is nothing like Sydney. Nowhere near the number of people, and no skyscrapers. It’s the largest coal-loading port in the world. It’s not uncommon to see forty-plus ships waiting to pull in and load. Unfortunately, the Aussies have adapted the principle of open strip mining in areas of NSW. I’m told the earth is scarred, not unlike West Virginia. In addition, between the coal and sugarcane industries, water runoff is killing the Great Barrier Reef. Add to this, some ships have taken to short-cutting across the reef doing great damage. Better scuba dive it before it is destroyed.

I wandered along the beach, and found the cathedral. Stopped in for afternoon prayers and chatted with the pastor.

It’s a hilly town like San Francisco. Small town in feel but not in size.

After two hours and a few photos, it’s time to head back to the train station for the three hour ride back, ready to meet Thene after work.

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