Free entertainment 22.10.2010

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I was reading a sad story in yesterday’s paper, about a couple who were broke and feeling chronically down, which quoted one of them as saying how bored they were because they had no money to do anything. I started to think about enjoyable pastimes that cost nothing.

Of course, the depression that comes with financial stress  is a whole issue on its own, but wouldn’t it be lovely to remember the skills we all had as children where very simple things were fun. I’m mostly pretty easily pleased because my idea of a high time is drinking a cup of coffee and looking at a view, or going to a second-hand clothing store, or more recently trying not to have a car accident while driving because I’m looking at trees.

I googled ‘free things to do in Newcastle’ and found a few interesting things. The first thing I found was sites in our capital cities that list 101 free things to do whereas the Newcastle one listed the top ten and was out of date. Time to start one, or adapt an existing one, I suppose.

 I’m always one to nurture bitter-and-twistedness for as long as is humanly possible so reading about free Stuff reminded me of the regret that remains and will forever at the sale of our museum site to a businessman some years ago so he could develop it. I still feel amazed that that went through when it was one of the few museums in Australia to make a profit. It was a fantastic place to take little kids when you needed to give them a run around and show them gadgets to play with. The new museum will no doubt be fantastic but still… we could have had two, given that BHP had given us some funding for a steel museum.

Here is a list of Newcastle’s parks and playgrounds. 345. That seems an impressive number but we could never have enough. I’ve noticed some new play equipment in a few of them in recent months so little kids will be happy. Sitting in even the simplest park is good for the soul and good for your health – even if you don’t walk, climb, run, ride or skateboard. Trees and green lower blood pressure. It’s great to sit somewhere like Civic Park or National Park near some big trees and see how many different bird calls you can hear – and you may even get the added bonus of being able to see the birds responsible.

Walking the Bathers Way, sitting on any one of a number of beaches, and climbing Queens Wharf Tower are all free, the Art Gallery’s free, libraries are a great place to go if you like a quiet time – one of my favourites is Wallsend Library as it’s such a gorgeous building.

 Walking out along Nobbys Breakwater or visiting the Shipwreck Walk on Stockton breakwater are always wonderful; going to the dog beach near Nobbys is always fun – especially if you leave your own behaviour-challenged dog at home and watch other people cope with their own. Even driving over Stockton Bridge, especially if you do it early in the morning, is something we all take for granted. The Hunter river is an amazing sight to see. One of these days I swear I’ll walk over it: I just need to con someone into going with me.

And checking out public art in town is free. People tell me I missed some when I was trying to photograph it all so I’ll have to add to that collection. One place I’ve heard about but never visited it Muster Point (41kB)which celebrates our industrial heritage so I’ll check it out on the weekend.

And the Laman Street vigil is free. 5-7pm every night. The people are really friendly and they’ll talk your ear off. Cheers. Home

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