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Newcastle City Guide!


3rd May, 2012
Lucy Feagins
Thursday 3rd May 2012

AMAZING custom illustrated map by the stupendously talented Kat Chadwick - IMMENSE thanks to Kat!   Thanks also to Jeremy Wortsman / Jacky Winter for hooking this up!  'Newcastle' header based on Trevor Dickinson's 'Newcastle Productions' branding, supplied with his permission - thanks Trevor!

OMIGOD.  This one is a bit EPIC, people.  Today we would love to share with you TDF's personally endorsed, tried-and-tested Newcastle City Guide!   Wickeddddd.

Whilst Lonely Planet did name Newcastle one of the world's 'Top 10 Cities to Visit' in 2011, and, somewhat randomly, the Seattle Globalist listed it as one of five 'Global hipster cities cooler than Seattle' just this month, here at TDF we like to think that having actually BEEN to Newcastle (and recently), should count for something.  :)  So before you go racing off to download the latest tourist App or guide book, check out our succinct little city guide - it is FOR FREE after all, and anyway, we're not too sure about the idea of a 'hipster mecca' thankyou very much ;)

As we mentioned on Monday, we had a seriously ace time in 'Newy' and so I was compelled to create this mini guide to share the highlights in the most efficient way.  We do hope today's post will come in handy when you INEVITABLY book your next holiday in Newcastle!  Of course, it's so impossible to include every lovely local business here, so we do apologise for anyone left out - please understand we had to limit the highlights to 20, and it is by no means an exhaustive list.

Massive thanks to all the lovely locals who were so generous to us everywhere we went!   Thanks most especially of course to Siobhan Curran for basically driving us everywhere you see on this map (and more)!  Thanks too to Melbourne illustrator Kat Chadwick for the insanely amazing (and 99% geographically accurate!) map above... what a GENIUS she is! Also, as mentioned on Monday, 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.

1. Newcastle Museum

Newcastle Museum is actually way more fun than you might expect. It's not huge, but is really well curated - it's modern and fun, and the kids exhibits in particular are brilliantly interactive and engaging for all ages.  The BHP steelworks meltdown demonstration happens on the hour and is kind of hilariously dramatic... don't miss it!

The museum is small enough to do without exhausting little ones, but just big enough to keep grown-ups interested too. (Allow up to two hours).  And don't forget to bring your camera - this is where Trevor Dickinson's ACE  Photowall Murals are - the best cheesy photo opportunity for any out-of-towner!

Entry to the Museum is free - there are some lovely and I think very accurate reviews here.

Newcastle Museum
Workshop Way

2. Centenary Antique Centre

Centenary Antiques Centre 'Vintage Grocery Store Museum' - all photos by Sean Fennessy

Centenary Antiques Centre goodies - all photos by Sean Fennessy

Everyone knows antiques centres and vintage bazaars are better the further you get from a big city.  Newcastle's Centenary Antique Centre is no exception - it's surprisingly massive, a little hit and miss as you might expect, but there are definitely a few treasures in the mix!

I particularly loved the mini 'Vintage Grocery Store Museum' - a cute enclave which replicates an old general store - containing antique fixtures, vintage advertising signs and original products and packaging from yesteryear.  Cute.

Centenary Antique Centre
29 Centenary Road

3. Blackbird Corner

Blackbird Corner - photo Sean Fennessy

Blackbird Corner - Photo Sean Fennessy

Blackbird Corner is a sweet little boutique in the gorgeous pocket of Newcastle known as 'Cooks Hill' (if we've inspired you to check out Newcastle real estate this week, this lovely neighbourhood gets my vote for leafiest streets and prettiest houses!).  Blackbird Corner sells an unusual but tight little edit of oddities - handcrafted clothes and accessories from indie designers Australia-wide, massive range of Lomo cameras, and independent print mags and zines from both Australia and overseas.  Lovely, friendly staff, too.

Blackbird Corner
70 Darby Street
Cooks Hill

4. High Tea with Mrs Woo

High Tea with Mrs Woo - photo Sean Fennessy

High Tea with Mrs Woo - photo Sean Fennessy

WELL I'm sure after seeing Juliana Foong's stunning Newcastle home yesterday, you won't need much convincing to check out High Tea with Mrs Woo!  This special and much-loved local store has a loyal following both here and in Sydney, and is run by the three industriuous Foong sisters - Rowena, Juliana and Angela.  I just realised they have a sweet blog too - well worth a visit to learn a little more about this talented trio!

High Tea with Mrs Woo
74 Darby St
Cooks Hill

5. Abicus

Abicus - photos by Sean Fennessy

Abicus - photos by Sean Fennessy

A one-stop shop for Newy's coolest kids, Abicus stocks music (vinyl and CDs), cool clothes for girls and guys, plus runners, accessories and polaroid cameras.  The girls at Abicus are extremely spunky too (there is a lot of 'goodlooking' going on in Newy - must be the lifestyle!).

124 Darby Street
Cooks Hill

6. Honeybee

Honeybee - photo Sean Fennessy

Honeybee courtyard featuring another ace mural by Trevor Dickinson! - photo Sean Fennessy

Honeybee is another sweet little indie boutique similar to Blackbird Corner - cute local handcraft is represented, alongside accessories, gifts, kids toys and books.  They also have a great range of Trevor Dickinson's zines and souvenirs (this shot of Trevor's zines was taken at Honeybee!).  ALSO, we were surprised to find a sweet little shaded courtyard out the back perfect for an afternoon coffee...

162 Darby St
Cooks Hill

7. Betty Mim

Betty Mim - photo Sean Fennessy

Betty Mim - photo Sean Fennessy

Betty Mim has a sweet and surprisingly extensive collection of ladies / girls fashion and accessories, as well as a handful of homewares.  It's also a great spot for gifts.

Betty Mim
167 Darby Street
Cooks Hill

8. Nook

Ethan Peterson (17) and Brodie Bannerman (21) of NOOK

Did you read the GUEST BLOG yesterday?!  Bonus points for you if so.  NOOK is one of Renew Newcastle's newest and most inspiring start-ups.  Based in the heart of town at Hunter st Mall,  Nook is the combined retail space for street wear brands by Brodie Bannerman (One Undone), Bella Quinton & Oliver King (Ruby George) and Ethan & Jarred Kennedy (ATGSL Skateboards).

As Siobhan told us yesterday, NOOK set a Renew Newcastle record with a five-day turnaround between getting the keys to this space and opening the doors to the public!  There’s a lot to be said for the energy and enthusiasm of youth – the youngest in this group is just 17 years old!

Talk about MOTIVATED.  These kids will be BIG.  You heard it here first!

Shop 12, 121 - 137 Hunter Street

9. Studio Melt

In the hub of Hunter st Mall is another excellent new Renew Newcastle store - Studio Melt. We featured jewellers Suzy Manning and Angela Haily on the Guest Blog on Tuesday (do revisit for pics!) - also sharing the space is women’s fashion designer Sarah Harden of The Little Room.

Studio Melt
Shop 4a, 113-145 Hunter St Mall

10. Strip of a Lifetime

Pics taken at Strip of a Lifetime. All pics (except our photo booth portrait!) by  Sean Fennessy

Awww I must say I have a soft spot for this one.  Strip of a Lifetime fills such a unique niche, you can't help but fall in love with Paula Birch's vintage-inspired store, again supported by the excellent Renew Newcastle scheme.

Channelling a little bit of Amelie, Paula's passion is old-school photo booths.  At her shop in Hunter st Mall, you can check out her very own antique photo booth (which is in perfect working order) and also Paula's extensive collection of old school props for hire, perfect for a vintage inspired party or wedding.  You can take a few snaps (as you can see, we did!), and the booth itself is also available for event hire.

There'll be more on Paula and Strip of a Lifetime TOMORROW on the Guest Blog - stay tuned!

Strip of a Lifetime
Shop 20, Food Court Level
119 Hunter St Mall

11. One Penny Black

One Penny Black - photo Sean Fennessy

Occupying a busy corner in the centre of Hunter st Mall, One Penny Black is a favourite coffee and lunch spot for many of the Renew Newcastle gang - its just a hop, skip and a jump from Renew Newcastle's head office and its immediate neighbours are many of the retailers and creatives involved in the program.

After you've had your caffeine fix, take just 10 steps up Morgan street to spy Stu McDonald's stunning street artwork  - 'Everything you can imagine is real'.  Indeed!  (pic here).

One Penny Black
Corner Hunter and Morgan Streets

12. Make Space

Edwina Richards at Make Space.  Photo - Sean Fennessy

As outlined earlier this week on the Guest Blog, Make Space is one of the longest running Renew Newcastle projects, going strong after more than three years (and three different locations!). This popular local store comprises the crafty design talents of Edwina RichardsJackie Smallcombe, Suzie Bailey, Trish StenzelDi Jones, Chloe O’Reilly and Allie Jane - who take turns to staff the store. Make Space is a hub for locally handcrafted creations including homewares, womenswear, kids clothes and toys.

Make Space
Shop 2, 111 Hunter St Mall

13. Good Brother Espresso

Good Brother Espresso.  Photo - Sean Fennessy

Good Brother Espresso.  Photos - Sean Fennessy

Flying the flag for Newcastle's well documented 'HIPSTER' appeal, how could I not include Good Brother Espresso!?  Excellent coffee, basic tasty fare such as avocado on toast, and cheese and chutney toasties, exposed red brick interior, vintage / industrial vibe, retro signage.  Close your eyes and you could basically be in Fitzroy.  Or Surry Hills.  Nice.

Good Brother Espresso
40 King St

14. Rustica

Rustica - image by Ann Evans Photography

If you're after a special evening meal, Rustica is a slick new restaurant (just opened last year) with grown-up appeal and eclectic, mediterranean flavour.  We were treated to an amazing meal (melt-in-your-mouth Greek lamb - so good!) and chat with Will Creedon, one of the owners, who charmed us with his generous hospitality and thick Irish accent!  Rustica overlooks Newcastle Beach, but despite the stunning view, it's the interior fit-out you'll find yourself ogling over - it's over-the-top in the best possible way, with hundreds of twinkling glass lanterns suspended from the ceiling.

2/1 King Street

15. Estabar

Set on the Beachfront not far from Newcastle Ocean Baths, Estabar is the perfect spot for a hearty post-surf breakfast.  Competition for a table was fierce on the day we visited (admittedly, a public holiday) - it's clear this no fuss, counter service cafe is a favourite with the locals.

1/61 Shortland Esplanade

16. Scotties

Scotties fish / seafood restaurant - photo by Sean Fennessy

Siobhan at the Scotties kiosk! - photo by Sean Fennessy

Scotties is another local favourite - you can dine in, or take away from the kiosk around the side.  Sean and I ate here one night (quite hilarious, they saved us a lovely window table which felt kind of ridiculously and inappropropriately romantic!)  ANYWAY.  Oh my God.  Best fish and chips I have EVER eaten, no exaggeration.  Although fish and chips always tastes sooo much better when you have the sea air in your nostrils, doesn't it?  Highly recommend!

36 Scott St
Newcastle East

17. Newcastle Ocean Baths

Newcastle Ocean Baths.  Photos – Sean Fennessy

I think basically Newcastle has the best ocean baths I have ever seen.  You have a choice between Newcastle Ocean Baths or Merewether (listed below) - both are amazingly photogenic, with the horizon in the distance and incredible waves slapping the edges of the protected pool.  They're both free to the public and open year round - special kudos to members of the 'winter swimming clubs' listed here!

Newcastle Ocean Baths
Cnr Shortland Esplanade and Nobby's Road

18. The Olive Tree Market

The Olive Tree Market.  Photo - Sean Fennessy

Olive Tree Market people - Top right - the world's smallest kite!  Bottom right - Newcastle based Elkhorn homewares, bottom right - a couple of cute buskers! All pics by Sean Fennessy.

Foodie goodness at The Olive Tree Market - pics by Sean Fennessy

Held once a month in The Junction Public School grounds, The Olive Tree Market is SO well loved amongst Novocastrians that Siobhan insisted we schedule our trip to coincide!  I'm so glad she did - this bustling monthly event has such a wonderful atmosphere, and is really well supported by the local creative community, who seem to treat it as much as an excuse to catch-up as a business opportunity!

First launched in 2008, The Olive Tree Market these days boasts over 100 stalls each month, with a diverse mix of craft, clothes, jewellery, homewares, kids things and live music. Another excellent drawcard is the incredible multicultural mix of food on offer - from Mexican Quesadillas to Vietnamese, Greek and even Dutch cuisine - all bases are well and truly covered!

The Olive Tree Market is held on the first Saturday of the month, and operates rain, hail, and shine.

The Olive Tree Market
The Junction Public School
Union Street

19. Merewether Surfhouse

Merewether Surfhouse - photo by Sean Fennessy

The Merewether Surfhouse has set a few chins wagging with its SUPER slick recent re-furb, which allegedly cost around $5million.  With a location like this, that's money well spent I reckon!  But whilst no expense has been spared on the fit-out, don't be deceived, this place isn't stuffy, it's super chilled, and caters for any occasion - as its essentially four venues in one (kiosk, cafe, restaurant and bar).

We stopped by one evening for a casual drink on the deck... Slouched in the comfy lounges overlooking the stunning beach, drink in hand and resort-style 'Cafe del Mar' tunes playing in the background, it honestly felt just like a little slice of Bali (Ku de Ta?) right here in Newy!

Merewether Surfhouse
Henderson Parade
Merewether Beach

20. Merewether Ocean Baths

I can't really favour one over the other - BOTH Newcastle and Merewether Ocean Baths are equally amazing, located on stunning stretches of beach, and both worth a visit.

Merewether Ocean Baths
Merewether Beach

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