Our first stop in Australia wasn’t where we thought it would be. Because of all of the schedule changes caused by the weather – thanks Cyclone Oma! – the cruise added a stop in the busy commercial port of Newcastle. Newcastle, Australia is known for mining and coal – which it has in common with its English namesake. Surprising, huh?
Newcastle is a nice coastal city with a very busy port – over 2,500 ships per year using the port. Not many of them are cruise ships, but there are enough that no one seemed surprised to see us.
The city as a long walkway along the water that was constructed to connect Nobby’s Island to the mainland. We walked along and saw dolphins in the harbor entrance jumping around as large cargo ships were being escorted in.
While we made the walk to the end we heard the distinctive sound of supersonic aircraft, then we started looking and saw a second one approaching, even prepared we barely got the picture! We were walking by some of the Australians from our ship and one said “you just saw the whole Australian Air Force” while another told him to stop sharing classified information! We heard later that they were new jets and the Air Force was running them at maximum speeds, including breaking the sound barrier, but we didn’t get any of that on this day.
We continued around several beaches and saw our first Australian Baths – which are large constructed pools next to the ocean that use the tides and some mechanical actions to fill the pools. Lots of swimmers and great views. You will have to read a future post to see a photo of one of these though. Another beach was around the corner.
Fort Scratchley is located in Newcastle and is the site of the only shots fired on Australian soil in World War II. A Japanese submarine fired on the city and the fort fired back. Originally built to defend British land from Russia during the Crimean War (a bit of history I need to learn), the fort sits atop a hill with great views of the ocean, harbor and city. The fort is now a historic site and is usually closed on Tuesday (our day of arrival) but it was opened especially for us. This was probably more exciting to our Captain than anyone else because when a cruise ship arrives for the first time in Newcastle part of the celebration is to have the Captain fire off the cannons. He must have announced that he would get that honor 4 times in the days between the addition of Newcastle to the ports of call and our arrival.
After exploring the fort and enjoying the views we headed into town for lunch. I enjoyed an interesting melt – chicken, pineapple and cheddar on a great piece of fresh bread. I liked it. Dan had a BLT he seemed to enjoy. After some more walking and looking at lovely older buildings we found our way to the brewpub near the harbor and enjoyed some Pacific Ales!