We decided to go down to the port early and were rewarded with one of the fastest boarding times of all the cruises we have been on. Like with all cruises, we then had to wait for our bags so decided to partake of our first meal of many. There, as always, was a wide choice to choose from and we were able to sit and enjoy the food. After a break we spent time exploring the ship until our luggage arrived and we unpacked. After the evening meal and a drink in the bar we settled for the night.
One of the things we like about cruises is when you wake up the next morning and you are in a fresh port. The first stop was Newcastle, not a place we knew much about.
Located 162 kilometres (101 mi) north-northeast of Sydney, at the mouth of the Hunter River, it is the predominant city within the Hunter Region. Famous for its coal, Newcastle is the largest coal exporting harbour in the world, exporting just over 161 million tonnes of coal in 2016. Beyond the city, the Hunter Region possesses large coal deposits.
When you read the write up about the town it doesn't seem an ideal place to stop and where the boat was docked, in the industrial area, didn't inspire us at all.
But how wrong can you be. The town laid on coaches, at no cost, to take us into town. On the coaches were volunteers enthusiastically, telling us about the town and the area. There were more of them in town to meet us and answer any questions. I have never come across such friendly and helpful people when arriving on a trip. They may have had a slightly ulterior motive as the town is trying to encourage tourism and is busy developing the seafront for holiday makers, but I don't think you would get the same response getting so many volunteers, in other countries .
We decided to walk along the seafront and eventually reached the first bay Nobby's Beach. Although quite wind, this was an impressive sight As we sat having an ice cream overlooking one of the beaches, Sue writing and me collecting images for sketches; it was quite surreal as a distant tanker seemed to drift in through the mist. It looked like the Mary Celeste as it disappeared behind the headland.
After a rest, we wandered further along the coast finally reaching the swimming area. This was a large area cut off from the sea. As we passed, a group of teenagers were entering the water; they must be braver than me because although sunny and hot, in the wind by the water's edge, it was quite cold.
We then headed into the town, not a large area but we found some nice old buildings. Whilst there we wandered into a small gallery and were impressed with the quality of work. The first artist represented the effects of global warming and environmental issues using fabrics and ceramics. This was quite thought provoking, especially after our trip to Alaska, where the ice flows are receding.
In the next rooms was an international exhibition showcasing dynamic and challenging art that intersected with digital media, science and technology. These were quite interesting as they used film, mixed with sculpture and mechanical devices.
In the first picture below, the mechanism continually reacts with the light to create a continually changing piece of art. In the second picture, a person swims under the changing light with a wire sculpture above.
There were several other works on a similar theme.
Exhibitions like this will certainly involve the visitor more and show how art can move with the times. A topic I will come back to, in more detail, in future posts.
After an enjoyable day it was back to the ship. Newcastle proved to be a surprise and when they finish developing the seafront, will certainly attract more cruise ships to stop there.
On another note it is always interesting to collect reference pictures for future paintings; sometimes as sketches, sometimes as photographs. This bar, we stopped at, had a fascinating area behind the bar and the scene reminded us of the famous Manet painting of a bar scene. Although, not the same, it had that type of feel to it; an image trapped in time.