Showing posts with label NSW. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NSW. Show all posts

Saturday, November 24, 2012

newcastle renewed

When it comes to awesome in Newcastle nobody does it better than Renew Newcastle. This was a stroke of genius, followed up by a lot of hard work - and it's now a dazzling reality. It's hard to explain the sheer breadth of benefits of Renew Newcastle. Basically it takes otherwise empty buildings and finds people to move in, start a business and restore the shop-front - until a commercial tenant wishes to move in. To find out more, visit their website here.

Renew Newcastle is single-handedly responsible for the revitalisation of inner-city Newcastle. That's a broad statement, but it's true. With Renew they've brought life, optimism and people back to the city and away from the soulless malls. They've also brought people back to Newcastle from Sydney, Melbourne and other far-flung locales as a new culture of optimism has exploded. So many new businesses have opened around Renew Newcastle projects - there's barely an empty shopfront in the mall and surrounding areas.

They do awesome things.

Two years ago I was devastated at the news that David Jones city store was closing. I loved that place. It was a gorgeous building and everything was all in the one place. I did nearly all my shopping there, and so I actually cried when it closed. I cried different tears when I found out that Renew Newcastle were moving in over Christmas. I had a sneak peek last Thursday night - and it's just filled with typical Renew Newcastle fabulousness.

How cool is this? A blackboard wall asks "What superhero power would you most like to have?" and people have answered with the little box of chalk that's available. Love it.

I have two options: shrink my daughter so she can fit into these - or encourage a friend to have a baby girl so I can dress her up. How divine!

So much awesome on display. I had a smile on my face the whole time I walked though The Emporium. I'll be going back with a wallet full of cash soon.

I love this wall. Particularly the instruction "Don't give up". We need that now after yesterday's announcement that the NSW Government weren't giving Renew Newcastle the slight funding increase they'd asked for - but instead, were slashing funds. Sigh. Renew Newcastle does more than just fill empty shopfronts - it's rejuvenated this city - you can't put a price on that.

Luckily Marcus Westbury is behind this. Whereas many people would throw their hands in the air and say "Oh, I've had enough" Marcus will fight. I have no doubt that not only will he get the funds reinstated - he'll get more.*

Cripes - he set up Renew Newcastle using nothing but sheer determination and his own credit card and now it's a world-wide model being taken on across the world.

But, if you've got a minute - please go vote at the Newcastle Herald poll here. Initiatives like this deserve to be lauded for the world-class act they are.

Thanks Renew Newcastle for doing my city proud.

*And, as predicted, at lunchtime today it was announced that the decision was reviewed and Renew Newcastle's funding was reinstated at $50 000 pa. YAY! Congrats to everyone who got behind this on Twitter, Facebook and via their emails. I think it's also awesome the way that local media also championed the story. The Newcastle Herald, NBN television and ABC radio were fully behind the story which is just ace. Bravo everyone.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

spoiled rotten

I live less than five minutes walk from this: the largest ocean baths in the Southern Hemisphere. And, arguably, one of the prettiest. My breath never ceases to be taken whenever I stand at the headland looking down over Merewether, across the gorgeous new SurfHouse, down past Dixon to Bar Beach. It's stunning. It's one of the reasons why we moved back to Newcastle 11 years ago.

When we moved to Sydney I thought we'd never come back here. But in the few short years we lived in Newtown and then Bronte Newcastle started experiencing an incredible renaissance. Darby Street swelled from a couple of restaurants and a cafe to the fabulous eating strip that it is now - and that confidence has now spread across the town. People are doing great things - which is inspiring others to try as well.

We are spoiled for choice. When I want to catch up with a friend for coffee we can easily rattle off a list of 10 cafés to meet at. Easily. And we've left off loads. Sure, we have our faves {often ones without the annoying parking metres out the front that double the cost of your latte} - but there are still many on my must-try list.

And fine dining? Woah. Where do I start? I think what makes Newcastle's dining scene so exceptional is the genuine delight the chefs have in their food and in their town. I follow a few chefs on Twitter and love checking out their pics where they're foraging for Samphire off the Newcastle coastline to feature in that night's dishes. Tim Montgomery from Bacchus {which would have to win some kind of prize for the country's most stunning restaurant, with an inspired menu to match} showed pics the other day of the community garden they're working on near the cathedral - talk about herbs with a view! And every time there's a glowing article about Newcastle {and there are MANY - the secret is out} the chefs and cafés are the first to sing each other's praises.

We do cool things in Newy too. Like this:

This is the Newcastle Regional Art Gallery cocktail night for The Archibalds. Local restaurant Silo, on the grittily-pretty Honeysuckle harbour, supplied the cocktails and fingerfood for the night. While local artists and a subject discussed their work. Brilliant. Unique. Novel. I can't wait to see what they come up with when they expand.

Here's a pic from one of my fave nights recently. The Roost Creative {a Renew Newcastle project} came up with a brilliant idea to host an exhibition at Good Brother café - featuring local business Sid Cohen's rubber stamps. It was called Good Rubber and a range of fab artists redesigned their art for a new medium. Rubber stamps. So. Much. Talent. The night went off. Over 200 people RSVPd on facebook saying they were coming and the people spilling out onto the sidewalk pretty much backed up those numbers. The joy in the room was palpable.

At the end of the night most of us trekked down to The Terrace Bar, the newest small bar to open in Newcastle. It was like stepping into a very cool party. There was a DJ spinning vintage vinyl, with tunes from the 50s, and loads of sharp-dressed guys and gals dancing up a storm: complete with authentic moves. Can you imagine? Joyful.

I love new ideas, new concepts, new things to do. Last Saturday night was the first Darby Street Bohemia Festival - so we went along. We saw a lot of cool things. Like this:

Look at the love and care put into the stall at Blackbird Corner. Vintage tablecloths, gorgeous bunting, fabulous smiling faces. It's people like these that make this town a true pleasure to live in.

And it continues. Work is currently taking place in the old ANZ Bank building in Newcastle, turning it into a small bar. Excitement doesn't quite cover how I feel. And it won't be the last. While we continue to enthusiastically support these new initiatives, more will be born. How GOOD is that?

Here's the latest article, complete with food recommendations by chefs. Great, now I have to add MORE places to try...

Love this city. Do you? Share your tales here. Go on - hit me with MORE places I need to try.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

at the movies

It will come as no surprise to any regular reader that my favourite past-time is visiting the cinema. Nothing makes me happy than a night at the movies. And I've always had a soft spot for the Tower Cinemas in Newcastle. I feel quite certain that when my brother and I had the living daylights scared out of us by Jaws, it was at The Towers. It was also where I went on my first real date in High School - seeing Fame actually - ah yes, the original...

This grand old dame has been around since the early seventies, as the decor will most strongly attest. It's a real retro-gem. So I'm thrilled that the owners are sympathetically renovating with more than a nod to its vintage past. New carpet has gone down, and while it's stylish, it certainly wouldn't look out of place in a 1940s or 70s high end establishment. My fave features, the dramatic red curtains that roll back to reveal the film will hopefully be kept too. They're so Twin Peaks they make my heart ache.

It's in the screenings that things have changed.

In moving forward The Towers is moving toward screening limited release, Art House and other cinematic gems. And for that, I have nothing but applause.

I've just returned from the relaunch night. It was fab. There was champagne, canapes, loads of people with a passion for this cinema and the screening of the new Aussie flick The Sapphires.

What an absolutely joyous film this is. The performances are outstanding. Absolutely outstanding. Deborah Mailman takes custody of your gaze every time she enters the screen - what a charismatic actor she is. She is a singular talent, truly. But it's not just her film as every single character in this film has something very special to offer. Jessica Mauboy is exquisite. Her performance has pathos and vulnerability - and oh, that voice, that utterly magical voice...

Apparently the film wowed everyone at Cannes - little wonder. It really is a triumph. While it dealt with with some of the horrible aspects of our indigenous history, it did so with a light hand. Not sweeping it aside, but treating it with respect and dignity.

I walked out with a smile on my face, and many songs in my heart. This is one film soundtrack I'm keen to buy. My faith in Aussie films is totally restored.

Now, excuse me while I make a bit of an awkward segue but I need to talk about another film.

There's a bit of a goldmine in cinema at the moment, particularly Aussie-made. Last week I went to see Not Suitable For Children with two of my film-loving friends.

I had very moderate expectations for this film. I knew it starred Ryan Kwanton, but that was about it. I found myself quite delighted. What could have been a hideous, over-wrought cliché was actually a warm, funny and thought-provoking film.

The soundtrack kicks butt, there is a breakout performance by the exceptional Sarah Snook and the film raises some issues I'm still thinking about a week later. It's a very clever film, deftly directed and written - and the performances show why Aussie actors are the leading force in international cinema. We have some serious talent.

So thank you Tower Cinemas. Thank you for trying something different, for sympathetically restoring this iconic piece of Newcastle's history and bringing some very ace films into my life.