TDF Hearts Newcastle!  Oh yes we do.  Just check out the BEACH, people!  All shots by Sean Fennessy.  ‘Newcastle’ graphic by Trevor Dickinson / Kat Chadwick.

A few snippets from Newcastle – clockwise from top left – Newcastle Council Building, ‘Everything you can imagine is real’ street art by Stu McDonald just off Hunter St Mall in Newcastle’s CBD, Train illustration by David R. Hampton, and coffee at One Penny Black Espresso Bar in Hunter st Mall.  All shots by Sean Fennessy.

One Penny Black Espresso Bar in Hunter st Mall.  All shots by Sean Fennessy

OK soooo as you may already KNOW if you are an excellent person who follows TDF on INSTAGRAM (yes, I finally caved), I have recently been to Newcastle.

Yes.  NEWCASTLE.  It is AWESOME.  I won’t hear a bad word said about it.  Totally and truly I am 100% cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die in love with the place.

Originally settled as an industrious coal mining town, Newcastle is Australia’s second-oldest city.  It’s around 160km North of Sydney.  Only about 150,000 people live there. But for a small-ish town I have got to say there is some seriously cool creative stuff going on there, and what’s more, you can go surfing on your lunchbreak. (No kidding!)

There is great coffee, incredible beaches, the best fish ‘n chips I have ever eaten, noticeably good looking people, cute hipster children on every street corner who appear to be able to skateboard from an extremely young age, an affordable housing market… all this and you’re only 2 hours from Sydney.  And YET, there’s not a skerrick of ‘Sydney’s little sister’ about it.  Newcastle really does have it’s own unique sense of pride and quietly confident vibe going on.  It is very attractive.

Part of the reason I fell head first in love with Newy was because we had the BEST unofficial tour guide any out-of-towner could ask for.  We (photographer Sean Fennessy and I) were incredibly lucky to have passionate Novocastrian Siobhan Curran basically at our beck and call for 4 days straight!  AMAZING.

Having moved from Sydney to Newcastle with her young family just two years ago, Siobhan’s intense love affair with her new home town is still very much in the ‘honeymoon’ period!   Siobhan writes ‘The Novocastrian Files‘ – an excellent blog covering all kinds of inspiring creative happenings in her much-loved seaside city. Siobhan is also the official licensee for TEDX Talks in Newcastle – she staged TEDxNEWY for the first time last year, to rave reviews!

Siobhan’s enthusiasm for ‘Newy’ is completely infectious – and it definitely rubbed off on us during our visit.  One day we shot two houses back to back, then Siobhan took us to Merewether Oceans Baths for a swim AFTERWARDS!   Unheard of.  That is the magic of Newcastle! (and daylight savings).

SO this week, inspired by our recent trip, I have dedicated a week of posts to the creative happenings and general excellence of Newcastle!  We’ll meet a bunch of interesting local creatives (check out Renew Newcastle on the GUEST BLOG), we’ll see a super beautiful Newcastle home, we’ve put together our very own TDF-tried-and-tested Newcastle City Guide for you, and on Friday we’ll interview a lovely local designer who worked for amazing magazines in both Sydney and London before relocating to Newcastle last year to launch her own business.

For now, please enjoy a few of Sean Fennessy’s excellent photos taken during our whirlwind tour of Newcastle… and get ready for a rather epic week!

Our trip to Newcastle was generously supported by Newcastle City Council and Newcastle’s Crowne Plaza Hotel.  MASSIVE thanks for their wonderful hospitality during our stay.

‘Everything you can imagine is real’ street art by Stu McDonald just off Hunter St Mall in Newcastle’s CBD.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Cheeky cute Newy kids.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Susan Gilmore Beach. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Newcastle Ocean Baths. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Newcastle Ocean Baths.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Olive Tree Markets (held once a month – more info coming in our Newcastle City Guide later this week!).  Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Lunch / coffee stop at Good Brother Espresso with Siobhan Curran and Shannon Morton.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Good Brother Espresso.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Beautiful homes and leafy streets in Cooks Hill.   Photo – Sean Fennessy

Leafy streets in Cooks Hill.   Photo – Sean Fennessy

More cute skateboarding children.  They are everywhere.  Photo – Sean Fennessy