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Wednesday-Saturday January 23-26, 2008 – Newcastle, Australia
Our tentative plan upon leaving Sydney was to find a place to settle in for a couple of weeks in Newcastle for some much needed rest. Jasmine and I also agreed to seek out some sort of employment to pass the time while we were there. When we arrived, Jasmine and I started to look around, but finding a weekly place to rent without a long term commitment proved to be very difficult.
With a few days booked in the hostel, we had some time before needing to find a place to stay or employment, so we decided to play tourists on Thursday by taking a trolley tour around Newcastle’s CBD. The one hour tour took us around to most of the cities’ main sites including a beautiful overlook where we could see dozens of ships waiting to pick up their loads in Newcastle’s very busy harbor.
After the tour we followed a posting at the hostel for temporary workers needed for the city’s Australia Day fair. Australia Day is a huge celebration every year where the Aussies celebrate their country similar to how we celebrate Independence Day in the United States. When we inquired at the fair, they informed us that we couldn’t work split shifts, so Jasmine ended up walking away with the job and I became a babysitter for the day!
On Friday Jasmine wandered over to a touristy area of Newcastle with a lady she met from Argentina to look into longer term job openings and possible housing opportunities. While searching around and talking to people, she found an ad for a short term room rental in a flat. Since this was exactly what we were looking for, we set out on Friday afternoon to see the flat. Located in a converted factory building not far from the center of town, the apartment was nicely furnished and felt comfortable, but was a bit expensive. After calculating our costs, we ultimately figured it was still cheaper than staying in the hostel so we agreed on a week to week rental up to a maximum of four weeks.
By the time Australia Day came around on Saturday, we had to get out of the hostel. Before Jasmine headed off to work, the three of us made our way to the flat to settle in a bit. At noon Jasmine headed to her new one day job while Shawn Reece and I relaxed a bit and watched television. Finally around 4pm, we decided to head down to the foreshore to partake in the party ourselves.
When Shawn Reece and I arrived at the foreshore the festivities were well in effect. We took in a children’s concert before harassing Jasmine for a bit at the concession stand she was working. Since she was an “employee”, Jasmine was able to get Shawn Reece an unlimited ride bracelet for half off and he spent most of the night joyfully moving from ride to ride. Since most of the rides were smaller, I opted to sit it out and stay on the sidelines.
To be honest, I felt kind of bad that Jasmine had to work hard instead of enjoying the day, but realized that we didn’t have a choice given the carnival’s restrictions. In addition, being with Shawn Reece all day certainly constituted work, but perhaps I am just trying to make myself feel better about it! I am still very grateful that Jasmine became a carnie for the day. Shawn Reece and I waited for Jasmine to get off at 10pm and we enjoyed a fireworks show before beginning the thirty minute walk back to our new home.
As Australia Day became a memory, we had at least a week to kill in Newcastle. To be honest though, we wanted to spend three or four weeks there to rest a bit given that we were suffering from a mild case of road fatigue. The deciding factor for the length of our stay was whether or not one of us was able to find employment. In the end we knew it was time to slow down for a bit and Newcastle seemed to be the right place to do it. We picked Newcastle because it is a city, but not too large. We found it easy to maneuver around and wanted somewhere that wasn’t too isolated either. Next time I will go into a little more detail about it, but we were able to just sort of become locals for a little while there. It was exactly what we were looking for!
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