2300 Newcastle

Where has the railway gone? The rail tracks have disappeared leaving empty spaces in the dirt and all we have now are the well- worn platforms and vacant seats waiting for passengers who will never arrive. Weeds are growing where commuters once stood and the indicator board is showing familiar stops but no departure times. Controversially, and after much public acrimony, the State Government decided to remove the heavy rail line that ran into the heart of Newcastle, the second largest city in the state. A light rail is now proposed but it is not known when it will commence or where it will be located. In the meantime the tracks are gone and the land is scheduled to be sold off for “development”. Away from the now, non-functioning railway line, from many vantage points or even just at the end of the street, you can watch a regular dance between eager tugboats and giant tankers as they’re shepherded to their berths at the end of the harbour. This is indeed a working port and has been so, amazingly, for more than 200 years. Currently it’s claimed to be the largest coal export port in the world. Along the lengthy foreshores there are plenty of places to stop and relax and parks to enjoy. Naturally the favourite fare at most restaurants here is seafood and if you’re lucky you can get a spot right on the water. Although the city has its share of modern development, a sense of history has prevailed and fortunately there are many historic buildings and homes still to be found. One of the pleasures of strolling through town is that Council permits local artists to decorate walls and open spaces with vibrant works of art. On most days, on popular Hunter Street, you can find talented buskers entertaining locals and visitors alike.     

Words and pictures by Peter Morton.