The car was due at 12:30 so we decided to make a trip to the grocery store for a few assorted goodies, including drinking water which you can never have enough of.Â One thing I can do without is canned lambs tongues, even for the low, low price of AUS$4.05.Â And of course, tongues are conveniently shelved between the corned beef and Stag beef chili.Â Gross!
After depositing the groceries and returning the car, we noticed that it was a warm and sunny day which was quite a novelty for us after chilly and rainy Sydney and New Zealand.Â So we put on our running shoes and set out for a long walk.Â
Newcastle‘s population of almost 250,000 is an eclectic combination of university students, surfers, and people associated with the current thriving coal industry and the rapidly dying, if not dead, steel industry.Â At the mouth of the Hunter River, Newcastle is the world’s largest coal exporting port which has been a fundamental component of Australia’s overall economic growth.Â Coal industry of that size brings blue-collar workers as well as highly compensated upper level management, and the town reflects this dichotomy.Â
Newcastle was established in 1804 as a penal colony for those convicts too hardened for the original penal colony in Sydney.Â In 1846, the nearby island of Nobbys Head was joined to the mainland.Â The long and picturesque sand spit, complete with a scenic lighthouse, is now a favorite spot for runners and strollers.Â Fort Scratchley housed a gun installation which fended off an attacking Japanese submarine in 1942.Â In 1989, Newcastle suffered Australia’s biggest recorded earthquake which killed a dozen people and destroyed many buildings.Â Subsequent rebuilding included strategic moves to increase tourism, foster real estate development, and shake off the seedy reputation of an industrial past.
Our walk through the central business district and the waterfront wharf was quite lovely.Â We returned to the boat to find that our local restaurant was closed, so we were back online to research a place to eat. Â
We ended up at a relatively new restaurant located in a recently renovated historical building that has been, at different times, a church, a theater, a community center, and a homeless shelter during the Depression.Â We met some fellow diners who were also, ahem, historical.Â One woman said that her father went to church there as a child.Â
The menu was thoughtful, and the food was delicious and well executed.Â But the best part of the evening was the signature cocktail menu.Â I had a fantastic modified Cosmopolitan in a frosted glass, but Andy ordered probably the single best cocktail we’ve ever had – top shelf gin, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, honey syrup, peach bitters, and lemon twist.Â It was absolutely delicious, and so well balanced that the liquor was almost completely disguised.Â All in all, a very lovely day!