We are on the traditional territory of the Awabakal People
After a good breakfast at Cafe Macquarie, we set out on the Fernleigh Track Rail Trail. The historic 16 km-long trail is a super route through wetlands, forest and coastal heath, and is close to a 10,000 year-old sand dunes system and the sea. The railway opened in the late 1880’s to transport coal from mines in the Lake Macquarie area to the Port of Newcastle and the steelworks, and passengers between Belmont and Newcastle. The track traverses Glenrock State Conservation Area, Awabakal Nature Reserve and the Belmont Wetlands State Park.
The abundance of bird life that could be heard, but not seen, along the trail, was frustrating for Paul! One constant birdsong was the doorbell-like call of the Bell Miner. There was a gentle incline up to Whitebridge station and then it was downhill to the start of our route, which was mostly a bike path, into Newcastle. We joined Throsby Creek, where we stoped for espresso, tea and scones, and continued on to follow the Hunter River into the city.
The port city of Newcastle, Australia’s second oldest city, was important as a centre for shipbuilding and steel in the past and is still the largest coal exporting harbour in the world. The downtown area is a mixture of old (original) and new architecture, with interesting conversions of old warehouses, rail workshops and banks. Work is currently underway to accommodate a light rail line.
While Wayne went in search of a bike shop, we visited the Newcastle Museum (very little on the history of the Awabakal and Worimi peoples, who traditionally occupied this area) and the Newcastle Art Gallery. The exhibit, Hunter Red: Corpus, was an intriguing group of works “unified by themes of the body represented in different and arresting ways – controlled, out of control, stolen, the abject of “other”.”
At dinner, Lois sampled a glass of local Hunter Valley Shiraz which got the thumbs up!