Finally, new territory to conquer! I was pretty psyched to head to Newcastle, especially in a new mode of transport never experienced before – the (efficient) New South Wales Trainlink. I mean I’ve taken a train before but not an Australian train. As mentioned, Xiu Mei found us the $70 promotional deal for any train travel. Ours included the following:
- Bus transfer from Gold Coast Transit Center to Casino, New South Wales (3 hour 25 minutes)
- Train journey from Casino to Broadmeadow, Newcastle (9 hours)
There were a number of stops in between and you couldn’t really get any proper sleep cause of all the stopping. I must say I’m really impressed with their punctuality, and how the staff will give you a ‘morning call’ about 15 minutes before your designated stop.
So there we were at Broadmeadow Station at 4.30am. It was freezing; 12degrees! I wasn’t prepared for such coldness so early in the morning, I was shaking and teeth were chattering. Thank goodness for waiting rooms from the winds!
Our Airbnb host, Tatiana, was really nice to offer picking us up from Cardiff Station at 8am. Took the train, one stop away, and tadah! We were there about 5.30am. 2.5 hours to kill from the cold! With my supersonic eyes, I spotted our favorite Woolworths and we headed there to their carpark to hide from the cold.
So glad the stores open early! We did some early grocery shopping at 6.30am and stocked up for the days to come. We left an hour later to make our way back to Cardiff Station.
Wasted a day cause we were both tired after the train ride. I knocked out at 10am and woke up at 3pm. We had an early dinner and planned for our activities.
Shenanigans in Newcastle!
- Conquering Sand Dunes
- Hunter Street Mall Market
- Newcastle Beach/ Ocean Baths
Conquering Sand Dunes! (30 Sept, Wed)
XM had her mind set on going quad biking at the sand dunes for quite a bit. I honestly was a bit reluctant because of the price and I’ve sat on a quad bike when I was in the desert in Dubai so it wasn’t something new to me. I never mentioned it because I didn’t want to be a wet blanket.
But you know what? I’m glad she wanted to go for it because even though it cost me $100 for a ~1.5hour ride, it was an experience that I’ll never forget and I had great fun.
Tatiana’s husband was exceptionally nice to offer to drop us near Stockton Beach in the morning when we heard we wanted to go there. If we took public transport, it’d be a good 2 hour odd ride. Yay to kind people and saving on transport!
Walked to Stockton Holiday Park to enquire about sand duning and the staff there were so sweet to help us out and make a booking for us though we weren’t guests there. I’m pretty sure they didn’t know though. Even asked for a good rate for us!
9.30am and we were booked for quad biking at 1pm! Made our way to Nelson Bay Road via buses. It’s such a pain to travel without a transport card (Opal, in Newcastle’s case) cause paying cash is much more expensive! It was quite a bother getting the Opal card cause they don’t sell it at train stations. Lots of retailers but we weren’t near any.
1pm finally came which meant QUAD BIKE TIME. We booked the the Quad Bike Combo (with Sygna Shipwreck tour) with Quad Bike King. Splattered on tons of sun block, collected our luminous work vest, and we were up a van to take us to the sand dunes; ready to rumble!
Took awhile for me to gather my courage to go really fast on the quad bike. After the first stop, the guides split us up according to groups based on our confidence level in riding. XM and I were separated but that didn’t matter cause we were all riding in one straight line. I was with one guide and another girl.
After all that riding uphill, we finally met with a drop! I was quite scared cause we weren’t allowed to accelerate and were told to just go down. I’m scared of heights! Any kind of drop will freak me out, even falling. Just kidding. The drop wasn’t too bad! I started getting the hang of things and started going pretty fast!
We wanted to do a sunset kayak tour (with hopes of seeing dolphins) after that at Nelson Bay so we rushed to catch the bus. It took one hour odd from where we were to reach Nelson Bay! It was really that far!
Tour was to start at 4.00pm, one and a half hours. Halfway through the bus ride, the driver informed us that the last bus from Nelson Bay to Newcastle is 5.30pm. There was no way we could finish the tour and make it for the bus in time. Gave it a miss cause we didn’t want to be stranded.
Ended up exploring Nelson Bay a little and caught the last bus back to the city, a 2 hour odd ride indeed. Felt like we were travelling from Brisbane to Gold Coast!
Hunter Street Mall Market (1 Oct, Thurs)
We are huge fans of grocery stores and farmers markets. So naturally when Google tells you there’s one open on a weekday, you go for it! But what you don’t know is that you will be utterly disappointed upon arrival.
The Hunter Market had such a nice description but when we reached, there were only less than 10 stalls and they were located alongside the street. One selling organic vegetables, clothes, massagers, Thai food, and that was pretty much it! It was sad. I WAS SAD.
Walked around and explored the neighborhood, as we always do, and discovered a hugeass gem – Newcastle Beach and the Ocean Baths! It is absolutely gorgeous. No words can describe the view and beauty.
We didn’t even know exactly what was around Hunter Street and we were pleasantly surprised when we saw the beach! Obviously we weren’t dressed to be in the sun on our second last day in Newcastle.
And because such a view and opportunity to swim in nature was not to be missed, we made it a point to return the next day early in the morning before checking out.
Newcastle Beach/ Ocean Baths! (!!!) [2 Oct, Fri]
Up at 6am, gobbled down some toast, and caught the 6.50am bus to Newcastle Beach! We reached around 7.30am and the man-made-pool-with-seawater had only elderly swimming in it. I was really impressed. The waters were FREEZING and they were swimming like the cold never bothered them anyway. I was shivering in a corner. The sun needed to come out!
Sadly left at 10am and reached back the apartment slightly before 11am. All in good time; told Tatiana we’d be back by 11.30am. She was really sweet to offer dropping us off at Cardiff again.
I really love Australia’s transport system. They are mostly accurate with their timings and it’s reliable. Caught the 12.36pm train to Sydney, another 2+ hour ride. Such an affordable way to get into Sydney – think it was about $11++.
SO. That’s pretty much it for Newcastle – a good 4D3N. I felt like another day in Newcastle would have been perfect but that’s alright! I’m really glad we swam in the Ocean Baths. Yet another (free) experience I’ll never forget.
9 Oct (9.47pm) – I’m currently typing this as we’re on the night train from Sydney to Melbourne.