Friday, 6 June 2014

NSW Trip Day 13 - Newcastle

It rained all night so we were a bit worried that our beach plans for today wouldn’t happen. By morning though it was still cloudy and the rain had stopped, so we decided to go ahead with our original plans and change them if the weather got worse. We met my uncles G and B at Dixon Park Beach – their favourite beach, and one with a playground. It was threatening rain – looked very black out to sea, so we walked to Merewether Beach (my favourite beach) straight away to get ice creams. Caitlin and LiAM walked on the sand and the rest of us on the new, wide pathway that has recently been built. G bought us all a double scoop cup and it was delicious, and the serves were huge! Even Tony and I had trouble working our way through the whole tub. By the time we finished eating it was sprinkling so I suggested heading back to the playground quickly so we could shelter there if it got worse. The kids wanted to walk on the sand again and this time went right down to the water and had a play in the edge of the waves. Everyone got a bit wet…
Dark clouds and rain off Dixon Park and Bar Beach

We headed back to the playground and the kids played on the equipment and with G using the footballs he’d brought along. I went up to the toilets and on the way back saw whales out in the ocean, so we all came back to the path to watch the whales pass. There were several off them and they were moving fast, and breaching frequently – it was pretty incredible. A couple of them weren’t far off shore so they were really easy to see. The kids went back down onto the sand (the sun was out by now) and made sandcastles – Caitlin’s mermaid sandcastle was quite a piece of art.
Whale off Merewether Beach

Dixon Park Beach after the sun came out
Once the whales had passed we said good bye to G and B and I dropped Tony off at the wine bar to talk wine with T. The kids and I went up to Newcastle Beach to have a swim in the kids part of the ocean baths. It’s a large round area adjacent to the rocks, with a man made wall, and the water comes in through a pipe and also by the waves breaking gently (usually, like today) over the edge. When we swam there 2 ½ years ago it was nearly full and quite deep, today it was mainly sand with just a stream of water around the edge – plenty of depth to swim in at the far end, and then a little creek to splash and play in down the side. Waves trickled over the edge occasionally which was exciting. Also there were sand cliffs which we could jump off, or jump on to collapse them, and LiAM and I built a tunnel through the cliff – he started at the bottom near the water and me at the top on the flat ground and we met in the middle. I didn’t swim, just walked in the water and took lots of photos and played in the sand. Tony met us there when he finished, and he took Caitlin over to the big baths to have a proper swim. She used her body board to help her get to a pontoon in the middle of the pool, then the board floated away and she was nervous about getting back – it was deep water, with some seaweed in it, and more movement in the water, from the waves occasionally splashing in, and it took a lot of courage for her to jump in and swim back to the edge. She managed the swim easily but felt it was one of the scariest things she’d done.
Ocean baths at Newcastle Beach

Waves gently breaking into ocean baths
The kids showered off and got dressed and we drove along the foreshore, marveling at the number of apartment blocks that have been built, and out to Waratah – we grabbed some hot chips from Henny Penny (a Newcastle brand chicken and chips place) and checked out the first house Tony and I lived in together – it was still there, though lots of the other houses in that street have been demolished and new houses or apartments built – and then drove past the hospital where I was born. We took the new bypass road out to Sandgate then up to Millers Forest to see Tony’s Dad. We had a lovely dinner there with Poppy and D, great to have a relaxing catch up.  Everyone was very tired and by the time we got home just after 10 all the kids were asleep. Tony stayed up a bit longer playing darts with P.

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