Good news about Newcastle – see: I don’t just complain all the time


In Wheeler Place in a prominent position is Newcastle Climate Cam. I look at it every time I drive past and I recently finally went for a walk past it to have a better look. (I spend too much time in the car – no wonder I need to see trees preserved: someone somewhere has to make up for the CO2 I’m responsible for.) According to the website, the climate cam is the world’s first city power meter! That’s something to be incredibly proud of.

The Climate Cam is always set on a  very pleasing point whisch makes us feel we can pat ourselves on the back because we’re using less electricity than we used to. I tried to look up some graphs on council’s website to see how this has moved over time but there was some kind of glitch and the graphs wouldn’t load, but I’ll have another go soon. I phoned council and they’re aware of the problem and are hoping to have it up and running some time in the next week so it will be well worth having a look at then.

It’s divided into separate zones in the city so you can look at your own area as well as the city as a whole.

In the climate cam section of the council’s website there is a great page of how to cut down on your energy consumption at home. There’s also info on the rebate/s available to households but these have been such successful schemes that there can’t be too many people who don’t know about them. There’s also an Energy Reduction Kit that can apparently be borrowed from libraries to help you work out how much energy you’re using at home. (In our attempts to be greener at home we bought a shower timer not very long ago and instead of attaching it to the wall as we were supposed to we left it where it could get wet. Not surprisingly it stopped working…) We have a Light Globe Monitor who is young enough and energetic enough to chase around after all of us berating us for leaving things on. (Actually, she’s been doing it for long enough now that we live in almost complete darkness at night.) 

Another thing to be proud of is our Urban Forest Policy. I believe Newcastle was the first council in Australia to have a policy like this.  From a consumer’s perspective it seems that this states what we all unconsciously know, which is that trees are assets to be looked after. Isn’t that fantastic?

There’s some nice walls painted throughout town that I haven’t taken enough notice of before. It would be nice to know who they’re by: I’ll have to go back and see if the artists’ names are on them.I was bleating about the good things about Newcastle to a friend from Sydney on Easter weekend and one of the things we can all do here is whale watch for free. Obviously you can go out on a whale-watching cruise as well, from a point in the harbour or from Port Stephens: they must be wonderful experiences, but I haven’t been on one yet. Maybe this year.

Last year I went  for a walk almost every day along Memorial Drive and down past Bar Beach in the whale migrating season and I think about 1 time in 3 I would see a whale. Sometimes it would just be a distant spray of water above the sea and you’d know it was a whale but often they would head in closer to the shore and you would be able to see the white of the animal’s belly. At times there would be a pair or a group of them together.

The best day was a weekend morning in spring sometime when a whale breached over and over again for ages, within easy reach of Bar Beach.  I’m not great at estimating distances but maybe it was 500 metres away from the shoreline. I watched for half an hour and it was still going when I left. Near Nobby’s another day I was taking a picture of a sunset and a woman screeched at me to look behind me because there was a whale close to shore that I was missing.

When I was a kid you never heard about whales going past; those were the days when people were still working to outlaw whaling. A friend years ago told me she could never get her husband to go on a holiday to Byron Bay because when he was a child it was a ‘stinking whaling town’.

Did you know that Newcastle has more artists per capita than any other town in Newcastle?

An artist told me this and judging by the number of galleries we have and the visible art around town it’s an easy figure to believe. It’s a lovely way to spend a weekend, going from gallery to gallery. It will be lovely when the Regional Gallery has been extended. On holidays once in Victoria I went to the Bendigo Art Gallery: it is just gorgeous and its size put ours to shame. Presumably this is another example of the regions in NSW being neglected by the State and Federal governments. It’s great to see that a new design has been released; what a shame the original design started the plan to remove the Laman Street figs.

I went to one of the private galleries recently and was saddened by how few vsisitors they had had. Six people had been through all day. There was a lot on in town that day: I think St Patrick’s Day was being celebrated in Hamilton and the Agricultural Show was on, but I wonder if it’s ever different?

Perhaps we view it as an elitist pastime but it’s something available to anyone, rich or poor, and it’s quite amazing to see how differently people see the world. I wonder whether some of the poor patronage is due to sitting home and watching television instead of getting out into the world or whether some of it is feeling intimidated by walking into a space where it’s just you and the person looking after the exhibition. One of the things I love about going to galleries is the peace and quite – no sport on TV in the background, no commercials, no traffic noise. Maybe I’m a weirdo to value quiet time.

I have to go – which is not to say there aren’t lots more good things to talk about, but I have to go to work and I have a sick child to pander to (poor darling) before I go.  Home


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One Response to “Good news about Newcastle – see: I don’t just complain all the time”

  1. tracey irving Says:

    hi, the paintings you are talking about were painted by Michael Williams and Jack Watchell.. local newcastle artists!

    🙂 nice story…

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