Travels and Tours Australia – Day 16: Newcastle New South Wales

Travels and Tours Australia - Day 16: Newcastle New South Wales

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I wake up frozen. To say that there is a difference in the temperature between Queensland and New South Wales would be a major understatement. My nights in the campervan previously had been comfortable and cozy, however, in Taree, the cold seeped through into the van and it takes me forever to warm up. When I finally feel able, I get changed and jump out of the van. There is frost on the grass and another camper has pulled up overnight – this clearly was the park site after all! Phew! I walk up to the public amenities, clean myself and try to feel half human before heading back to the camper and making some toast. I take a quick drive through Taree before opting for a morning tour of The Lakes. With only a short drive before I arrive, I take the winding roads from Forster to Newcastle, taking in Wallis Lake and Smith Lake.

With the morning light shining on Wallis Lake, creating an inane intensity, I sit in awe for ages. Though Smith Lake is equally sizeable, it is Wallis Lake that captures my imagination and takes up my time. I note a change in scenery as I leave the lakes and reach the highway to Newcastle. I deviate from my route once more, as I decide to discover Port Stephens.

Without realizing quite how far off my route it is, I find the drive long and slow, but the bustling tourist port is worth the while, with a busy market and strangely secluded beaches. I look for a lunch stop but fail to come up trumps, so continue on the road to Newcastle. My only knowledge of Newcastle comes from the surf flick a few years back. The film made it out to be run down and grotty, and my first impression was they cross the bridge into the industrial sector and the film seems to have done the rundown city justice. However, as I enter the CBD, I come to realize that there is more to Newcastle than meets the eye and it is actually a trendy, tempting stop.

I reach the beach and certify it the best in NSW so far and continue my quest for lunch. Proving once again unfruitful, I stop just south of Newcastle at a seemingly popular picnic point and munch my lunch whilst watching surfers. With Newcastle ticked off the list, my next stop is Sydney. I had hoped to take a look at the Home & Away beach just north of Sydney but realized it was over 2 hours out of the way in both directions, so instead continue on my quest for the city that everyone confuses with the capital. The drive takes longer than anticipated and the distances drop slowly on the signs, however, not long after nightfall, I check in to the stunning Bounce Hotel/Hostel, drop my possessions and head out for a wander.

With intentions of making a night of it, I head back to the hostel, cook dinner and end up in conversation with an array of backpackers. At night the top floor of Bounce comes to life and soon enough the hours have been whiled away and I am craving sleep. I may not have made it far, but it had been a more than pleasant evening’s entertainment. After Taree, a soft, warm bed is more than welcome and doze off quickly.

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