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Matt’s Newcastle (Australia)

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Shops on Pacific and Hunter Streets. (Photograph by OZinOH, Filckr)

Matt Endacott was born in Newcastle, Australia exactly one year after a massive earthquake triggered a decades-long decline. Nowadays, the New South Wales city is experiencing a resurgence and bristling with possibility. While Newcastle bounces back, Matt is studying for a degree in English and championing the Newcastle cause on his blog and on Twitter @mjendecott. Here are a few of his favorite things about his hometown:

Newcastle  is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is the Bogey Hole, a convict-built rock pool within King Edward Park. From here, we’ll usually get coffee at One Penny Black on Hunter Street before we explore some of the Renew Newcastle galleries and shops. Walking towards Newcastle Beach, we’ll stop by The Lock-Up and then grab a bite to eat at either Good Brother Espresso or Cafe Mason.

December is the best time to visit my city because it’s summer and you can do a “beach crawl” from the city to Merewether. My favorite is Bar Beach, which is an easy walk east from the cafes and shops on Darby Street.

You can see my city best from the bell tower at Christ Church Cathedral. For a small donation you can collect the tower key from the volunteers at the entrance on. It’s a steep climb — and if you suffer from vertigo you might want to skip it — but once at the top you’ll have unobstructed views of Newcastle, the suburbs, and as far north as Port Stephens.

Locals know to skip the West End and Queen’s Wharf and check out the East End and Cooks Hill instead.

The Hunter Street Mall is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs. Most of the shops in the mall are run by artists and designers.

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Novocastrians swimming in the Bogey Hole. (Photograph by Matthew James Endacott)

In the past, notable people like Dymphna Cusack, Margaret Olley, Daniel Johns, and Sir William Dobell have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is Newcastle Museum because it brings the city’s narrative to life, including stories that precede European settlement.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that the buses are free during the day in the city center. That said, Newcastle is a very walkable city and you’ll find no need to go any further west than Honeysuckle.

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is King Edward Park.

My city really knows how to celebrate the work of local artists because gallery openings are a regular and popular occurrence. Check out the Renew Newcastle Facebook page for details about upcoming shows.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they talk it down. Only visitors seem to appreciate Newcastle and what it has to offer.

For a fancy night out, have cocktails at Longworth House and a glass of wine at Bar Petite. Then head to dinner at Bacchus, a Methodist mission turned theater turned restaurant.

Just outside my city, you can visit Hunter Valley winecountry in Pokolbin or go on a dolphin cruise from Port Stephens.

My city is known for being run down and industrial, but it’s really creative and underrated.

The best outdoor market in my city is the Olive Tree Market.

Le Petit Deux is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and Darby Street is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read The Novocastrian Files.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I run Bathers Way. It follows the coastline from Nobby’s Beach to Merewether.

To escape the crowds, I walk up the hill to Fort Scratchley.

If my city were a celebrity it’d be Betty White because it’s old, bold, and full of life.

The Old Post Office is my favorite building in town because it represents the city’s potential to be as great as it once was.

The most random thing about my city is that the city center is one of the quietest areas in the metro area.

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York Drive is one of the most scenic roads on the east coast of Australia. (Photograph by Matthew James Endacott)

The Lass O’Gowrie is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Unity Nightclub  in Hamilton.

Renew Newcastle, an organisation that puts artists in empty shops, could only happen in my city.

In the spring you should picnic at Shepherd’s Hill on the terrace.

In the summer you should swim at the ocean baths and the Bogey Hole.

In the fall you should explore the boutiques in Cooks Hill and The Junction.

In the winter you should go on a tour of the Renew Newcastle spaces while enjoying a complimentary glass of mulled wine.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the Canoe Pool near Newcastle Beach.

The best book about my city is The Last Thread by Michael Sala.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is Van Morrison’s “Bright Side of the Road“.

In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because Newcastle is Australia’s most underrated city and in transition. See it before it’s gentrified.

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