“Each day of our lives we make deposits into the memory banks of our children.” ~ C. Swindoll
Our exchange year is all about filling up Leina, Cohen and Elijah’s memory banks, and Mother’s Day weekend in Newcastle proved to be another opportunity to make some momentous deposits, for all of us.
Newcastle is only a 3 hour drive from the Blue Mountains, on the coast north of Sydney. Historically it is Australia’s second oldest city, and in the last few years it has undergone revitalization and coincidentally in 2011 it was named one of the top 10 cities in the world by Lonely Planet guide book.
We had a true Novocastrian experience in Australia’s seventh largest city, known for its’ abundance of beaches, surf breaks, and world class Ocean baths. We started our day with a swim and play on Nobby’s Beach, made famous by the MV Pasha Bulker carrier ship that ran aground in massive storms in June of 2007. The kids really enjoyed running in the waves while watching these massive carriers pulling in to port right by the beach. Thankfully none of them crashed while we were there! It is obvious that the port in Newcastle is the economic lifeline for the city, as the ships were constantly manoeuvering through the harbor. Moving 90 million tonnes of coal every year makes Newcastle the world’s largest exporter of coal. It truly was awesome to see.
We strolled past the historic Customs House en route to meet Damien and Amber’s sister-in-law and her daughters. We were treated to a swim in their pool and refreshments on the terrace before heading out for an early evening walk before dinner. We could feel the burn in the quads during the uphill climb to King Edward Park, and the kids enjoyed a play on the outdoor structures and a run around the ornate rotunda. On the walk back to the downtown we walked the ‘Bather’s Way’ which is the coastal walk that links 3 of Newcastle’s white-sandy beaches.
Dinner that night was at Blue Water Pizza overlooking the harbor. The kids enjoyed taking turns on the ‘Power Wing’ on the boardwalk and pier while they waited for their wood-fired pizzas to arrive. The ‘Power Wing’ is a radical new three-wheeled device that looks like a scooter, but is propelled by moving your body from side to side. It requires a lot of hip action, and Cohen seemed to have the hardest time shaking his hips – go figure – he’s a lot like his father!! Some of the kids even rushed through their ice cream dessert just to get back on the ‘Power Wing’! A big hit needless to say!
Sunday morning, Mother’s Day, was very special! I was treated to a sleep in, and then presented with breakfast in bed, complete with some fabulous homemade gifts, a new mug that says “If Mums Were Flowers, I’d Pick You” (apparently I almost ended up with two of these as both Leina and Cohen chose the same gift at the Blackheath Public School Mother’s Day Stall!), a travel manicure set, some Australian soap, and a cooking magazine! The most priceless thing of all was when Elijah came into the bedroom he started singing “Happy Birthday”!
My husband may not have loose enough hips for the Power Wing, but he does know how to keep me happy, because he was the one to suggest that the remainder of the morning be spent browsing the shops at the local mall!
Our Mother’s day picnic lunch was planned for the Blackbutt Nature Reserve with Damien’s brother and sister-in-law and nieces. James had coordinated the entire lunch and had poured both Beth and I glasses of red wine, before he had us feasting on fresh chicken sandwiches with avocado and coleslaw on crusty rolls – Matts’ new favourite sandwich! After lunch and turns on the Power Wing, we walked around the Blackbutt Reserve, which is a natural bushland park that provides habitats for a number of native Australian wildlife, including the kangaroo, wombat, wallaby, emu, and koala, among other animals and birds. The park occupies over 182 hectares and is entirely run by volunteers. There is no charge for the park and was the perfect setting for a Mother’s Day picnic!
Our drive back down the coast and up the mountain to Blackheath was memorable as the kids tried to attract the attention of the passengers in the cars parked beside us at the stop lights! Cohen had one young woman winking and flirting with him – which in turn had us all in stitches!
Mother’s Day weekend will go down in history as being memorable for various reasons including exploring a new city, spending quality time on the beach, walking along the water, partaking of wine and good food with new friends, but most of all because it was spent surrounded by 4 of my favourite people – all of whom have made me one very proud and lucky MUM!