Newcastle (Hmmmmph)


1 - last week I headed over to Newcastle to attend the 2007 installment of the ANZIBA conference - I was presenting my doctoral proposal for the fourth time(!), as well as presenting a paper in a competitive session. So, after a taxi, plane, train, train, bus, train, and 'beet of a walk' (I learned Australian very quickly) I found myself enjoying the various delights Newcastle had to offer. Not many delights, as it turned out...


2 - Naturally one should always take a photo of the hotel. I was up on level 6 and had a fine view out over the road and accompanying urban wasteland. The hotel was okay, although internet costs ran to something close to an arm and a leg so I was offline rather definitively for the duration of my incarceration.


3 - The University of Newcastle was the official conference host, although everything except for the Research Students' Consortium was held at the local Paramatta Rugby League club rooms (lots of pokeys, TAB screens, bars, seedy patrons... and still no internet...). The syringe disposal boxes in the gents were a nice addition. Incidentally, the University of Newcastle is ranked 127 in the world, and one of my fellow conference delegates assured me that Newcastle is such a boring place that the students tend to do quite well because there is so little else to do except study.


4 - Wandering about town wasn't particularly fun - much of the area around the hotel (and most of the CBD) was rather run down. There were lots of pubs, hotels, and shops with their windows boarded up or smashed, and the odd shambling passerby. I figured if I ventured forth alone and with an expensive camera around my neck, my adventures would be rather quickly curtailed, so I had to give up on any ideas of portraying Newcastle as a derelict hellhole...


5 - Still, people do seem to live here (not many), and do get married. Walking back from this particular photo mission I came across a wedding party camped out on the steps of one of the more picturesque buildings (the one with the clock, to the right in picture 3) - they were all dragging on cigarettes and having an involved (and probably sordid) conversation about someone called 'Sharon'.


6 - This may (or may not) be the City Council building - a curious mixture of styles and with the apparently compulsory plywood doors and windows.


7 - A little closer to the CBD - more signs of a city with an interesting architectural legacy, but in a bit of a mess at ground level.


8 - Clearly a number of inhabitants left their legs behind. Or, perhaps they're ex-tourists?


9 - Harley on the waterfront. I seemed to be attracting curious stares from the nearby bar patrons and Harley owners, so I hurried on... The waterfront featured a number of reasonable looking eateries and drinkeries, and a bunch of us went out to sample the local scene on the Saturday night. Female attire could be described as somewhat minimalist, and there was a spirited bout of mass fisticuffs inside a bus over the road that led to a bunch of policemen arriving in riot gear.


10 - overpass to the waterfront, note the curious tower at the end (also in picture 21).


11 - plenty of shipping in the harbour, and lined up off the coast. Presumably they carry coal to China to do their bit in assisting global warming.


12 - Nobby's beach, famous (or notorious) for hosting a 225m bulk carrier during a series of storms in June.


13 - A small rock pool at the end of the beach.


14


15


16 - the incongruous sight of Pelicans (Pelecanus conspicillatus) standing on lampposts


17 - ...but standing up there with an enormous beak and watching the world go by seemed to be a pretty standard Pelican activity


18 - they're surprisingly compact birds when they're folded up


19 - the Ocean Baths were in fine shape


20 - the welcome sign for ships coming into the harbour seemed surprisingly hospitable...


21 - ...but I don't think I'll be going back there in a hurry.