Your town with Cass – Newcastle NSW

In this month’s Your Town column Move To More blogger and Eugowra local, Cassie Gates, chats with photographer, Tess Lehman about her life in the beautiful coastal city of Newcastle.

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Mereweather Baths Photograph Tess Lehman

What’s your Newcastle story Tess?

I moved to Newcastle just over 12 months ago, but I have had Newy on my mind for a very long time! For various reasons I didn’t manage the move until then but now that I’m here I love it!

My eldest child was about to start Highschool, and I wanted more options than what was available where I was. Newcastle has some great options for schooling and the rental houses were cheaper too. We’ve found an incredible community here, my work as a photographer keeps building and building and the kids have found a great group of friends. It really has been a solid move for us!

Let’s get straight to it: what is life REALLY like in Newcastle?

The town is like wow! It has incredible beaches with ocean baths, beautiful National Parks woven throughout the town and everything we need. Because Newy was built on what was once a coal mine, they have created these public reserves and green spaces. There are heaps of riding trails woven throughout. We like to use these as much as we can. The ocean baths are so great, I usually go for a pre-dawn swim with a friend at least once a week. When we have done our swim, we get to watch the sun rise over Newy and it truly is the most beautiful and wonderful feeling ever, it’s just amazing!

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Photograph Tess Lehman

What sort of jobs available in Newcastle?
Mining is still very much a part of Newcastle, not in town but people do travel to nearby mines in the Hunter region daily. There is a big Uni in town and that employs a few. And there a lot of factories. Newcastle does have a lot of artists, that is what drew my attention, being a photographer and creative person. There is always stuff on, and the hospitality industry seems to be booming and employing a great number of students.

What do you do on the weekend for fun?
My weekends are dictated by my kids, but it does involve going to the beach or out into nature. I do surf but the waves here are better suited to a short board, and I like a longboard. My partner and son usually go mountain bike riding on the weekend and sometimes we head to the Wattgan Mountains for a hike and a picnic. That is if there isn’t something going on in town like a festival or exhibition. We like to make the most of the events when they are on. When I get the chance, I do like to catch some live music, we have some amazing local bands here. And… I cannot NOT mention the roller derby! This is so incredible to watch and my god it is intense! If you haven’t seen this sport in action, check it out!

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Merewether Beach Newcastle Photograph by Tess Lehman

You are a creative, what is that scene like in Newcastle?

Newy is home to heaps of artists and there are several galleries including the main Newcastle Art Gallery that are always changing out the art shows on display, keeping the creative work new and exciting. We do have a number of street art murals to see as well, the outdoor art gallery, which are incredible. Each month there always seems to be a different festival to celebrate, it’s great! The Newcastle comedy festival is coming up next month and that will see live acts all over town.

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Is Newcastle easy to get to if you don’t drive?
You can get across town in 10 minutes it really is easy to get around. There is also a tram in the centre of town. And a ferry at Stockton. What I love is that there are bike tracks throughout town, which are very handy and so much safer than being on the road with the traffic. Newy does have an airport, but the great thing is if you can’t get the flight at a price, you want Sydney is only two hours down the road.

What is the housing situation like?
Housing is not great. Rentals go very quickly, and it helps if you form a good relationship with the real estate agent as that is what sometimes gets you in the door! Literally! There are a lot of share houses for students but if you want your own place, it is very competitive.

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Stockton Beach Newcastle Photograph by Tess Lehman

Can you get in to see a doctor?
Not many doctors offer bulkbilling for some reason so many people go to the hospital and wait for long periods to see a doctor, which isn’t great. We have managed to find a local doctor now, but it did take six months to find him. A lot of doctors just aren’t taking on new patients. If you do need specialists and surgeons, we do have access to them. Just down the road we have a major hospital, the John Hunter, and they do have good mental health facilities there. Newcastle has the Royal Victoria Infirmary hospital and a couple of private hospitals.


Here’s your time to pitch! you had to give someone one reason to move to Newcastle, what would it be?

For us it’s the people! We have met and made friends with some incredible people since we have been here. That is either through work or the school and they have been super welcoming.

Cover image courtesy of Jane McCormack (@_jane_mccormack)


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