Lifestyle & Culture

Three Realisations I Had Upon Moving to Newy

What makes Newy, Newy? Jasmin Thompson talks about her own experience as an outsider relocating to the city.

Realisation #1: You Have To Fight To Make A Name For Yourself.

When I was able to move away from home I headed straight for Sydney; like so many other young creatives, I thought moving to a city like Sydney would prompt the universe to drop a life-changing opportunity right in my lap (spoiler alert: it didn’t).

Newcastle is constantly struggling to reinvent itself, to leave its reputation as the steel city behind. Moving to Newcastle inspired me to try harder, to actually put in the effort and make myself known. Although it’s easy to associate it with the panoramic pictures of its coastline or #brunch on Instagram, after a couple of dips at the bogey hole or a few too many drinks at one of Newy’s many bars, you start to get a sense of what it’s really about.

It can’t be easy being stuck in Sydney’s stretching shadow. Over the years I’ve watched Newcastle strive to establish itself as a ‘creative hub’, whether that be introducing a new creative degree (and then discontinuing it years later), or inadvertently killing local businesses to put in a very ‘Melbournesque’ light rail. If living in New South Wales’ second most populated city has taught me anything, it’s that you can’t wait around to be discovered.

Realisation #2: Never Underestimate The Power Of Community.

I asked a few people what they associated with Newcastle, and alongside its ‘party culture’, what stood out to me was ‘community’. Because, what really makes Newcastle unique is the people – the strong and often stubborn voices of the community.

The voices that fought for the sentiments of their city, like the iconic Nobby’s headland which was set to be flattened in the 1850s to make navigating the harbour less treacherous. Whibayganba, Nobby’s true name, also holds massive cultural value to the Awabakal people as the site of a Dreamtime story.

The headland was also regarded as a sentinel in the harbour, and the threat of losing it caused the community to rally under the leadership of John Bingle. In 1854, after relentless backlash from the community, it was decided that Nobby’s would instead be slightly levelled to allow for the construction of the lighthouse.

It’s hard to imagine Newcastle without the iconic Nobby’s headland, which is so often found on postcards, boasting the beauty of the city. The silhouette of Newcastle would have been forever altered if it wasn’t for the passionate voices of the community.

Realisation #3: I Actually Like It Here.

Newcastle is a city that I never thought I would end up in. To me it was the mysterious cluster of music venues, trendy cafes, and pricey boutiques that my older sister would disappear into every weekend. She would come home donning her Darby Street purchases and tell me stories about the people she met at whatever rowdy gig she had attended that weekend.

Her ventures soon surpassed Newcastle and instead, it became the city that stole my friends away with promises of campus parties, promiscuous nights, and independence; a life that I could only experience through Snapchat stories.

In truth, it made me resent Newcastle. I regarded it as the bigger, busier version of my hometown, and, I was desperate to hate it so all the time I had spent scoffing at the city would have been worthwhile. Resentment is a difficult burn to soothe. Maybe it was the sea salt that whips through the city, or the abundance of cosy coffee shops trickling warmth across the sidewalk, but Newcastle managed to do just that.

Feature Image: Alice Kjoller, Yak Media Designer


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