Newcastle, NSW, Australia

I’ve never had a Christmas that wasn’t in Scotland, with the whole family sitting around my Gran’s dining table watching Christmas movies and stuffing our faces with turkey. This year, however, I just so happened to be on the other side of the world.

I made the decision not to go home for Christmas as I wanted to experience different kinds of festivities. Having always experienced freezing conditions on a frosty christmas morning, it was fair to say I would be having quite the opposite this December. Not being with family on Christmas is hard for anyone. Being 17,000km away on the other side of the world is even harder. I was lucky enough to be invited to one of my friend’s houses to spend Christmas with her and her lovely family. And I’m honestly so thankful to them for making me feel so at home, on my first christmas away from home.

Instead of waking up early on Christmas morning, we woke around 9am still shattered from staying up till 2am doing shots of Pimms. Due to a Greyhound bus issue, I did not arrive in Newcastle until 4am on Christmas Eve. Meaning I never fully caught up on my sleep because as soon as I arrived, the festivities had already begun.

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It was 28 degrees on Christmas Day, quite different from what I am used to. Everyone was gathered around the tree opening presents when I got given a gift from a familiar name. I wasn’t sure if I had maybe misheard someone in the rooms’ name as it couldn’t possibly be the people who I thought it was. But as I received more and more gifts with other very familiar handwriting I knew it must be true. My family had sent over Christmas presents for me, and it really was a big shock. I had said they shouldn’t bother sending anything over because I’d be coming home a few weeks later. The fact I hadn’t even the slightest clue meant it was the best surprise ever! I now had all my favourite chocolates, christmas socks, and a festive t-shirt. I couldn’t have felt more at home. Christmas in Newcastle, Australia… was a hit. img_1665img_1723

I couldn’t have felt more at home. From stuffing our faces with turkey, to having a post-dinner nap on the sofa, to face-timing the family back home whilst they opened their own presents. I won’t deny that it was hard not being with family over Christmas, but I wasn’t without family.

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After Christmas the party never seemed to stop. We were always doing something, or going somewhere to explore Newcastle. And the sights of Newcastle were no disappointment. Although Newy is a pretty large city, it doesn’t feel intimidating. It’s a city that feels like a town. Most cities make you feel lost and so small, but in Newy you feel like a local. It has many beautiful beaches and secret spots like the Bogey Hole, a serene peaceful paradisal ocean pool.

I found it quite hard to not fall in love with the place.

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Nobby’s Boardwalk was my favourite location by far. As you walk out to sea you are greeted with views of endless blue crystalline ocean, and the sound of waves crashing against the rocks.

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Being only 2 hours by train from Australia’s most loved city, Sydney, it’s the perfect place to be in the action, without being too caught up in the crazy Sydney lifestyle. Because of this, it’s so easy to take a day out in Sydney and the train only costs around $5 one way. Thats only £3 to all you Brits.
We did venture out into the town a couple of nights, so I could experience the infamous Newy night life. And it did not disappoint. If you’re a young one, you will love Newcastle’s clubs and bars. Same if you are not so young, there really is a scene for everyone. The Argyle House is the place to be on Wednesdays student night, if you are looking for some place to boogey.

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Then there was the case of New Years, or Hogmanay as we Scots call it. Unlike every other tourist in the whole of Australia, I would not be spending it in Sydney. I chose to spend it here in Newcastle, where everything happens.
Another big family party, this time 50s themed. Being a backpacker, there wasn’t much I was carrying that would fit the theme. So the best I could do was curl my hair, put it in a bun and call myself a pin up girl. Of course no Hogmanay would be complete without a rendition of Auld Lang Syne, but instead we chose Loch Lomond. NOW, was the time to get emotional. A Scottish girl, thousands of miles from home on Hogmanay…I started to greet a wee bit. Thank goodness the FaceTime lines weren’t busy and I could have a good chat with my mum, who was soooo last year. (Time difference…get it??)
I honestly didn’t think I’d cry at all, but it turns out I’m missing home a bit more than I thought.

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I don’t know why Newcastle isn’t on everyone’s East Coast itinerary. After the 2 weeks I have spent here, I reckon it should be on everyones list. I will definitely be returning, Newcastle.

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