So, today was my last full day here in Newcastle as resident writer at The Lock-Up Cultural Centre. And I’m sincerely bummed. I’ve had the most wonderful time, met so many great people and found my feet in the surf, so I’m sad to leave. Today Garth asked, “So you must be missing home by now”, and my honest answer was “No. Not at all.” I mean, I miss my loved ones, but Newcastle is great and I have been busy and productive and happy, so I haven’t had much reason to look forward to the end of my time here or feel any home-sickness. In truth, I’d love another month here. I feel like I haven’t had enough time to get everywhere I wanted to go, meet all the people I wanted to meet, surf all the breaks, hang out with crew, to read, think, write. So I’d love another month or two, but I’m off to Sydney tomorrow and then to drive/camp/surf my back up the east coast next week with my friend, Terry, so things aren’t too bad really. But I was hoping that today I would be able to get in one last Newcastle surf (or two or three), to see the folk I have met in the water and to catch some waves at my favourite breaks. But alas! It was not to be.
A coal ship was leaving while a cruise ship was entering the harbour, giving a weird kind of perspective on the swell.
The water would wash and swirl through the ocean pools, so you had to time your passage to the concrete seating closer to the break.
Despite the massive swell, Tom was still committed to bird-watching. I found this unnervingly adorable.
This guy and his bodyboard caused us some concern as he went to jump off the rocks into the heaving maw of oceanic fury! The lifeguards in the tower were calling over the loudspeakers, asking him to come in, but he flipped them the bird in defiance and continued on his mission to get out. In the end, he took a less terrifying (for us) option further in front of where we were sitting and made it out.
The afternoon saw the sun come out. Newcastle is so very beautiful
And a nice day to be indoors writing, as it happens. And so I found myself sitting once more in One Penny Black, typing away, drinking coffee, and chatting to Huon and Garth. I planned my goodbyes, and figured out how I can fit in another visit here next week. As I cannot say enough, I feel so lucky to have had the chance to spend some time here in Newcastle, and been made to feel so welcome and included. And so some thank yous. Specifically, I must thank Emily and the volunteer staff at The Lock-Up; Karen, Katherine and Candace at the Hunter Writers Centre; Huon and Brenton (via One Penny Black) who have so generously shared their knowledge and stoke with me; Gerry who introduced me to the residency program and who has been a wonderful Newcastle friend; sweet Maia for the girl companionship in the waves and the very early morning coffees; and my dear friend Emma for playing host from day one. I’ve also been stoked by the emails and comments from Newcastle folk via my blog: your feedback has been so great in helping me find my way around and learn more about your wonderful hometown. And of course, my time here has been made extra wonderful by the surfing crew I have met in the water, in particular the people I met at Cowrie Hole, Newcastle Beach and Caves. For a while I worried that I was spending too much time at certain breaks – which I have! - but the fun waves I found and the lovely people I met put paid to those concerns, allowing me – unexpectedly - to feel a sense of belonging during my time here. Although my residency at The Lock-Up is done, I still have stories and words left to write and post about my time here.
Thank you Newcastle. I’ll remember my time here with fondness and great affection and leave here feeling refreshed, renewed and full of inspiration.