Cheerio, Sydney-siders, g'day Novacastrians

Trip Start Oct 21, 2006
Trip End Mar 21, 2008

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

As if all this hospitality weren't enough, Alan is also a rugby fan and had his telly fixed specifically so that we could get up at 6.45am for the All Blacks vs France game. It's a huge win to the ABs too - bargain!

At around 9am, Elaine and Alan pack all sorts of stuff into some boxes and we head off into the next door park for a brilliant BBQ and champagne breakfast. They have these great little picnic areas here with free electric barbeques, so Alan fries up a big meal of bacon, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms and hash browns that we enjoy under the mid-morning sun.

By the time we are done there, it is time to go, as we have a bus to catch up the coast to Newcastle. Alan and Elaine, proving they truly are the hosts with the most, drive us all the way into town to the Central Station in plenty of time for our bus.

Newcastle, like its northern English namesake, has a reputation for being very working class, industrial and a little boring. Our first impressions are of a city that is making an effort to lose those sorts of negative adjectives, which aren't really all that attractive to tourists. Despite being Australia's seventh largest city, it is extremely quiet, even for a Sunday night, except for one waterfront bar that has a band playing and a trendy young crowd. We stroll along the promenade, although there isn't any lighting so we can't see if it is nice or not, until we reach the beach, then cut back to the hostel.

The hostel is, unusually, worth remarking on. It is a big old building that I think used to be a school and has now, obviously, been refurbished into a youth hostel. It is full of old-style leather couches, has an enormous common room (probably the old assembly hall) and lots of high ceilings and oak-panelled walls. The hostel also has free dinner deals three days a week, so we figure there's nothing to lose in trying it. All the tight-arse guests, like us, meet in hte lobby and we are led down to a completely respectable Irish pub, where we are served one of three choices of meal. If I was paying $10 for a meal like this (we got veggie pasta - the chicken schnitzel & chips had all been taken) I might not be overly happy, but you can hardly complain when it is free. The idea is that, by bringing 25 young travellers into an otherwise empty pub on a Sunday night, enough of them will buy a beer or three to cover the cost of a few mass produced meals.
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