. Posted at 8:26 pm on June 7th, 2005
So I realized that, despite my best efforts of traveling, traveling, and traveling about Australia I still haven’t seen too much of Newcastle, my HQ. It’s a nice little town. Oz is divided into six states and two territories (they also own some islands and a slice of Antarctica, but that’s getting technical). Unlike America, the largest city in the state/territory is always the capitol of that state/territory. The capitol of Australia is in its own Territory (the Australian Capitol Territory, commonly known as the Aye See Tea) which is halfway twixt Melbourne and Sydney and a bit of a blatant copy of ‘ol Uncle Sam’s DC solution.
But I say these things for a reason – so you’ll know what I mean when I say “Newcastle is the largest non-capitol city in Australia.” It’s big but not too big, which has its advantages and disadvantages. Sydneysiders consider Newcastle a dirty industrial city with not much to offer. And they’re wrong – for one, Newcastle has branched out considerably and now has the most artists/musicians/creative people per captia than any other city in the whole country. And it’s still right on the coast, about three hours north of Sydney.
Imagine Newcastle as a big right triangle pointing south, the longest side along the shore. The Uni(versity) is at the corner furthest from the beaches. The ninety degree angle would be between the side that runs from NC proper to the Uni and from NC proper south. I live more or less along that NC-Uni line. Its 10 minutes by bus to the beach and 30 minutes by bus to the Uni.
It’s really a top location – two blocks from the discount supermarket and a few other shops but still within the free fare zone. I don’t know if American cities do this but every OzCity I’ve visited has an area around the Central Business District (the downtown, commonly know as the See Bee Dee) where you can jump on and off buses without worrying about all that paying nonsense. Between normal business hours, of course. I li ve on the bitter edge of the no pay zone – it’s a free ride to the CBD and beaches, but its $2.60 to get to campus.
Where was I? Right, the pictures. A distinct lack of traveling (I’m resting up for a big one month marathon of a journey) has left me restless. Ergo I charged my camera-battery, laced up my walking shoes and off I went, walking about this temporary city of mine and snapping away like crazy.
A few comments on my collection of ones and zeros (which is thoughtfully titled “Behold, Newcastle in less than a hundred pictures):
To understand Newcastle you have to understand coal. Newcastle is all about coal. It was founded on it and is still the world’s biggest exporter of the stuff. Something like 150 million tons annually. It’s a Coalopolis. I go to the beach a lot and the fewest coal-ships I’ve ever counted waiting to get into the harbor is six. It’s kind of romantic, in a capitalistic sort of way, how they’re all snuggled up against the horizon.
Also, I gave blood recently. This isn’t really a big deal, but everybody on this list is on the list because they’ve met me at some point or another and therefore how much of a loudmouth I am. I think these sendouts are testament to the fact that I don’t mind talking about Josh Fenton and The Things He Does.
So I gave blood, which is something I like to put on my “warm fuzzy” list (directly opposite the “cold tingly” list). Quick aside: The first comment I always get from nondonors (geez that sounds harsh doesn’t it? “nondonors”) is “oh I hate needles.” And, I just have to laugh because hey, I don’t exactly get a buzz off the needle myself. Back on track: this last donation marks my first gallon. They’ve taken out pint after pint (or, in Australia, 500mil after 500mil) and this last one put me at the one gallon mark. So they gave me a sweet key chain and this guy who once needed tones of blood wrote me a nice letter. For whatever reason, the Aussie Red Cross does a way better follow-up job than the American chapters. And I’m def. putting the magnet up on the first American fridge I see. Usually I’m not that impressed with that sort of swag but the fact that it says “Australian Red Cross” immediately makes it twice as nice. Five months in-country and I finally got some sweet merch.
Australia‘s Health Minister is a guy named Tony Abbott and The Treasurer is a bloke named Peter Costello. Which means that if PM Howard ever steps down (and he very likely might, he’s almost as ‘popular’ as Bush2), there’s a better than even chance that the country would be governed by – and this is rich – Abbott and Costello.
Th-th-th-th-that’s all folks,