No worries, mate!

Trip Start Oct 05, 2010
Trip End Jun 01, 2011

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Where I stayed

Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Saturday, March 5, 2011

After the stressed days in Sydney we were really happy to go to the small town of Newcastle. Newcastle is situated 160 km north of Sydney and it took for us 3 hours to get there. We got there about 11 o' clock at the evening and there was Kaupo’s childhood friend Ermo to meet us. He took us to the same hostel where he and (another friend) Rainer had been staying for 4 months. We, exhausted from all the walking and travelling, fell asleep like rocks.

Newcastle is easy- going and has a down to earth charm. It is most known for it’s beautiful and clean beaches- the biggest are- Bar Beach, Merewether Beach, Newcastle Beach, Nobby’s Beach. Newcastle is an ideal place for swimmers and surfers. At Merewether Beach are the Ocean Baths- which are basically huge swimming pools, filled with ocean water. The biggest one being 100x50 meters. The reason for these baths are to keep people safe from waves, currents and of course sharks.

The hostel we stayed, is called Newcastle Backpackers. It is a really cozy place with free billiards, free table tennis and a swimming pool. The benefits also include free barbecue on Mondays and Thursdays. But just to be honest, then Australian sausages are pretty far from the best ones. But since everything is really expensive here then we try to save where we can. Also Kaupo got a job at the hostel as a driver, which gave us a discount on our accommodation.

One day we decided to visit the Blackbutt Reserve. This reserve is set in a bushland, it has nature trails, wildlife exhibits and all kinds of animals: koalas, wombats, emus, kangaroos and more. For just   3,5 dollars we got to go into a closed area, where a very cute 1- year old koala was having it’s lunch. We were allowed to pat it and take pictures. It was worth it! The rest of our tour included visiting different sorts of birds, reptiles, wallabies and other animals.

One of the compulsory things to do when in Newcastle was to go on a vine tasting tour to Hunter Valley. There are over 140 wineries at the area. We were picked up early in the morning and driven there. We visited 6 wineries, a cheese shop and a chocolate shop. All the visits included tasting and some extra information. We, who have been very ignorant when it came to wines, were enlightened in the types of wines, how the tasting is performed and how wines are made. The tour was extremely nice- the whole area was very beautiful and calm.

The weather was really nice for several days and we spent much time at the beach. One day we borrowed body- boards from the hostel. A body- board is a type of surfing board, but you don’t stand up on it. We tried them out in the waves and it turned out to be loads of fun. It is said that Newcastle is all about surfing and we couldn’t leave without trying the real thing. We signed up for it and headed for Nobby’s Beach. There met we, Dan, our surf instructor. First we did the training on the sand. We were instructed what we were supposed to do and how. Everything seemed as simple as it can be. Then we hit the waves… and suddenly things were not as simple anymore J At first Dan kind a "pushed" us into a wave and we had to get up on the board. Eventually we both managed that. Later we tried to catch a wave by our selves and that turned out to be more difficult. It took many tries before we got close to succeeding. In the end we just had to give up, because sea and waves just wore us out and we were exhausted. But our goal for the day was to surf (or to stand on the board) and we managed that!

One day we found out that Broadmedow Racecourse was just a few blocks away from our hostel. We went there the next raceday. Outside we met a nice guy that gave us free tickets to get in. We had much fun betting on horses, winning some and then losing some... Believe it or not, but there is a dress code on the race tracks here. The men wear suits and the women have fancy dresses, high heels and hats. They almost looked like they were heading to a wedding instead of the racetrack. Many drank bottles of champagne and we started wondering that maybe racing is for the “rich people”. Later on we met the same dude that gave us tickets, and he suddenly gave us 10 $ to “pick a winner” :O We had so much fun, that we decided to go there next raceday alsoJ
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