Mark Richards, Legendary Surfer
Mark Richards was born and grew up in Newcastle, with his parents, both keen beach goers. In the late 1950s Mark’s Dad, Ray saw the new balsa and fibreglass mailbu surfboards, which visiting Californians had brought with them in 1956. The new boards were shorter and more manoeuvrable than the solid timber boards used until then. He bought himself one, and when he saw how much it impressed people he made a decision to branch into selling them too, buying from early manufacturers in Sydney. Ray then combination his car yard and surf shop, and in time the cars gave way to the surfboards and it became a dedicated surf shop, one of the first in Australia.
When Mark was born in 1957 he was always around surfboards. He learnt to surf in gentle waves at Blacksmiths Beach, about 15 minutes south of Newcastle, a beach partly sheltered by the breakwater on the northern side of the entrance to Lake Macquarie.
Mark surfed many junior competitions around Australia, with the highlight of his junior career winning at Margaret River in 1973. He has been the International Professional Surfers (IPS) World Champion four times in 1979, 80, 81, and 82 and 2001 Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Grandmasters World Champion. Richards was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985 and received a Medal of the Order of Australia in 1994, an Australian Sports Medal in 2000, and a Centenary Medal in 2001.
Today Mark still lives in Newcastle with his wife and three children and runs the Mark Richards Surf Shop in Hunter St, the same shop started by his parents.
Mikey Robins, comedian
Mikel Mason “Mikey” Robins is an Australian media personality, comedian and writer. He is best known for the satirical game show Good News Week, which ran on the ABC and Network Ten between 1996 and 2000, and returned again when the series was resurrected in February 2008. Mikey was born in Newcastle and here are his tips when you visit.
“Living as we did in The Junction we were only ever a short walk or drive away from some of the best beaches on the eastern coast. Later as a young man I loved all the old pubs in Cooks Hill many of which I have to confess I still frequent every time I’m in town.
My favourite place in Newcastle today: Definitely the East End of town and The Hill, not just for the wonderful architecture but these days for great cafes and bars. It’s great to see how much this area has come on without losing its original character”.
Three top tips for new visitors to Newcastle:
1. Spend a while having a walk through King Edward Park until you find yourself down at The Bogey Hole. This wonderful swimming hole was constructed in 1819- 1820. Ordered by Major James Morisett and constructed by hand by convicts, where else do you get to actually swim in history?
2. If you’re not too exhausted after that take a walk along the foreshore and end up in the Newcastle Museum, history and exercise what’s not to love.
3. My next tip about visiting Newcastle is to leave all your pre-conceived thoughts about dining out in this city back on the freeway. Do your research, Newcastle over the past few years has become a foodie destination with a slew of new restaurants receiving nationally good reviews and awards. However if you are on a budget or would just like to sample one of my old favourites you can’t go past a Darby’s pie.