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At one with the Locals

December 1, 2014 - Newcastle

Having breakfast with the birds at the Hunter Wetland Centre was supposed to set the tone of the day – relaxed, taking it easy, enjoying the fresh air.  It surely did. We began the day with breakfast at the Wetland’s Spoonbill Cafe before enjoying a guided bird life tour on a perfect late Spring day. ‘Breakfast with the Birds’ is conducted every Sunday. A highlight was meeting a mother Swan and her Cygnets. It’s easy to relax in this wildlife setting. We relaxed a little too much and forgot what time it was and the day had other plans.

Walking on to the Newcastle Showground for the Newcastle Farmer’s Market,  we were greeted with the delicious scents of exotic culinary delights. Venturing a bit further and there’s was an abundance of fresh farm produce. It’s such a shame I didn’t get to spend too much time there, trying on clothes and picking fruit and vegies for the week’s meals. But I just had to get to the Newcastle Art Gallery before our noon cruise.

Paul, a local I met on the gallery staircase, said Patricia Piccinini’s ‘Like Us’ was the best exhibit he’s seen. (I wasn’t allowed to take photos but you can take a peak here)  I tend to agree with Paul; I could have stared at the sculptures for hours. The realness of the sculptured skin on the beautiful creatures left me in awe. I felt as though the sculptures were going to come to life and tell me: “Take a photo – it’ll last longer!” Alas, I couldn’t, so it was off to a harbour lunch cruise with Nova Cruises.

I am usually violently seasick when I take to the water on a boat, but I’m happy to say this was not the case with  this Nova Cruises. Once aboard, we met a lovely local couple named John and Kerrie. This is one thing I love about heading to what could be considered ‘rural’ towns – on early morning walks, people you stroll by say “Morning”, and when you’re sat with people you don’t know on a cruise, both parties make the most of it and strike up a conversation. I just love it! together we enjoyed this great Newcastle Harbour Luncheon Cruise and I even got to play the on board piano. It’s an elegant vessel.

To continue bonding with locals, we went across to Inner City Winemakers and met proud owners Rob and Janine. They believe what’s outside the bottle is just as important as what’s inside it, which is why they commission local street artists to create the artwork on their labels. They also find inspiration in antiques – but I’ll let Rob explain that to you. It’s unusual but convenient to find a wine maker of this calibre located in the centre of a thriving city like Newcastle. The innercity premises is also home to an Art Gallery and an eclectic selection of regular entertainment. We got the distinct feeling this is a popular place to be. After sampling some of the great wines we’d reached our relaxation zone, it was off to Stockton Beach Holiday Park to have what I like to call a post-wine-time nap.

Feeling a little refreshed, it was time for dinner with more delicious food.  There were a few moments during our dinner at Subo I forgot I was in Newcastle. This intimate restaurant has all the appeal of the best eateries in Melbourne. In fact, it took all my strength not to lick the plate clean after the final course (violet marshmallow and meringue, honeycomb and cocoa nib ice-cream). It’s pretty much the best Violet Crumble you’ve ever tasted!  Soby serves a set five course menu changing with each Season. Click here to see  last’s night’s menu selection. This restaurant was lovingly created by partners Suzie and Beau. It is a beautiful, contemporary restaurant. There is a lot of thought and love put into this restaurant.  They even handmade the main entrance door on their own – now that’s dedication! The menu changes every six weeks, so make sure you stop in regularly to taste the best combinations of the season.