Monday 23rd May 2022

Back to Newcastle! #LifesStories.#LinkUp. 24/2022.

Welcome (back) to Life’s Stories.

A Fortnightly Link Up here. The dates for the year are here and I hope you can keep on linking up too.

Back to Newcastle! #LifesStories.#LinkUp. 24/2022.

Since moving from Sydney to the New South Wales Central Coast, Newcastle is a big city closer to us than ever before.

It has changed immensely in the decades of this and last century. Going from a fully industrially-centred place (coal, steel making and more) to a renewed up-market place with inner city Sydney vibes, and harbour views along with beaches.

I’ve been to “Newy” (Newcastle) most years we have been up this way. Newy, by the way, is an affectionate term we Aussies seem to do with cities, places and people’s names: we shorten them affectionately.

About an hour from our place, along the M1 to the city centre makes it a pretty easy trip. With some help from google maps of course.

I was off to the Newcastle Writers Festival 2022 and made sure I had a car space booked. I am a planner and I do not apologise for that!

But first, I had a small crisis of confidence about appearance so needed a mirror check and selfie…and look what else happened after days & days of rain…the sky had changed at 7.45 a.m. to make it a sunny & dry day!

Arrived in plenty of time to notice a lot on the walk from the carpark to City Hall: green spaces, trees, and more…SUNshine gave everyone an extras spring in their step!

I loved attending Sydney Writers Festivals back in the years we lived in Sydney. They are a great chance to listen to the authors sharing THEIR stories about their books.

Newcastle Writers Festival in 2019 was a great occasion for me…and in fact, it was from hearing Jane Caro AM speak about Accidental Feminists (her non fiction book at that time) that I came up with the plan for the Women of Courage series. Here’s more about that.

And as a great fan of Trent Dalton and Rick Morton, it was awesome to meet Trent and catch up with Rick.

Then this happened…Covid. It stopped all events that were live so there was no Writers Festival (other than an on-line event) in 2020 and 2021.

But in 2022 It was BACK! With much fanfare, an amazing group of authors and for me, a ‘cheap’ way to be part of it when our NSW Discover Vouchers could help defray costs.

Where the arrow is pointing from is my grey head, as I am in the front row, and listening to (and loving) Trent’s talk with Rosemarie Milsom the Festival director. Debbie from Debs World was watching live from her lounge room and we tweeted a  bit too. Fun to connect!

I got to hear Kate McClymont speak about her journalist and author career looking into crime in our state of N.S.W. She has had death threats (!) and has spoken with many from the world of organised (and other) crime that is a part of our state’s history.

I listened to Jane Caro speak about her book The Mother, and another author too. They spoke of their writing processes and where some of their ideas had arisen. Sadly both topics within their words are pretty common these days.

I was tired (but happy!) after the events and took a drive over to the water to check out the big seas that had taken away walls from beaches and sand, along with stopping a surfing event.

Still, it was great to be there on a dry weather day, enjoy some of the sights, and to drive leisurely home via the old Pacific Hwy to our place at the northern end of the Central Coast.

It is still a bit strange to be getting out and about like this as the limitations of Covid (and lately, weather events that were dire) have made us hesitant. Maybe us? We are still part of a dwindling group of people wearing masks at the shops. We were asked to wear masks at Newcastle Writers Festival.

And by the way, there were many more author and writers I would have loved to heard but…time. I could only manage one day away from home. That’s life as a post oral cancer person. Some of the writers I missed included Helen Garner, Clementine Ford, Julia Baird, and more. Sadly my friend Rick wasn’t there…he told me he thought he was but no..bit busy as well with a new book out that he edited: Growing Up In the Country:  Australia.

I’m pleased to add that my interest in reading is refreshed now and I am actually browsing fiction as well as non-fiction books. I will more than likely have a post for the What’s On Your Bookshelf too.

I also hope to attend the Words on the Waves Writers Festival at the southern end of the Central Coast in early June. Waiting for the program to be released. It had its first year in 2021 and I missed that it even happened. Not this time, I am signed up for updates. Here is more info. 

Do you know the city of Newcastle?

Are you a “fan” of Writers Festivals?

Do you have a favourite author you would like to meet?

Let me know if you get a chance in the comments.

Denyse.

It’s the Monday before Easter & the weather seems fine for driving to Dee Why to see Dad, so that’s my plan.

I will catch up with you here later.

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Comments

  1. Hi Denyse, lovely for you to be back at the Writer’s Festival. I’ve not been to one, but my beloved cousin who lives in Sydney is a regular attendee. Perhaps I should look out for the Brisbane Writer’s Festival and try to attend. I have Jane Caro’s book downloaded and on my list to read. Newcastle when I was growing up was, as you write, an industrial town but when BHP closed they did a great job of pivoting to promote tourism. It is also close to the Hunter Valley from memory. Great to have the link up back fortnightly – that is a good balance I think! Take care. xx

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks so much Sue. I started going to Sydney Writer’s Festival as a day out and one of interest. I went with a friend when it was held at the wharves but it’s moved to another precinct. Even in the 7 years since we left Sydney so much has changed.

      Yes Newcastle is becoming far more upmarket (i.e. unaffordable!!) and is attracting people who want to attend the University there and it has a large hospital system too.

      I like that it has a couple of large shopping centres where there is variety of shops etc but with Covid, I have not visited for over 2 years. It’s about the same time distance from our place to one of those as it is back to Hornsby.

      I am glad about the fortnightly link up choice and that you are supporting it too.

      Denyse.

  2. What a fabulous day out you had Denyse! I’ve never been to a writer’s festival but maybe I should go to one one day as I’m sure it would be fascinating to hear authors speak about the books they write, particularly if it is an author of interest. I’ve been to Newcastle but not for many years. I have relatives that live near to there and some old neighbours have moved near to there also. I hope to get down that way one day soon and visit a heap of them. If I do, I’ll have to include a meet up IRL with you in that! Hope you have a wonderful week. xo

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks Min, that would be great to meet up. I have met Kirsty Russell a few times in Newcastle but sadly, because of Covid all those plans are changed.

      Writers Festivals are quite a buzz. You pick and choose what to attend. Some events are free. Ones at night don’t suit me but there is something for everyone.

      Denyse.

  3. I took keep my mask on and prefer events that still ask you to wear them (I even wore one at a dance class yesterday as I need husband to test neg for his marathon trip this week!). Let me know what you book for words on the waves and I might try to come. I’ve excitedly booked quite a few talks for the Sydney Writers Festival but other than Art Spiegelman, they’re more just to do rather than authors I love. See you in a fortnight!

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      I too am a mask wearer indoors. Not many people are sadly but it feels a bit better to feel a bit more safe.

      Whatever your husband is hoping to do, may he go well & be covid free.

      Saw my Dad today and out of the 100 or so residents in the independent living units only 10 actually got covid after a St Patricks Day lunch. He attends nothing much at all now due to his macular degeneration.

      Have a good school hols. Sydney was shining and even hot today where I was.

      Denyse.

  4. Hi Denyse, what fun to read about your day at the writers festival in more detail. It was through you that I checked out it out and decided to join Trent’s session via livestream, and it was fun to connect with you during the day. We lived in a suburb of Newcastle for over 10 years before moving to the country, way before it was the ‘in’ thing to do. All 3 of my girls were born in Waratah hospital just up the road from our house. We haven’t been back for quite some time though.
    Great to be back linking up with you fortnighhtly – I love the connections we make through blogging as it’s been good to connect while I’ve been in Sydney these past few days.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks Deb, I hadn’t realised about the booking connection. Good one. It was fun. Oh gosh when he said my name…fan moment!! LOL.

      Is the hospital the Mater or another one? I know about John Hunter as the main public one. I also went to the Mater for a head and neck cancer meeting.

      Newcastle was a bit different then to now. Even in the 7 years we have been here, its house prices etc have shot through the roof!

      Glad the fortnightly connection is sticking. I have enjoyed our shared experiences of the Northern Beaches too.

      Denyse.

      • I was so excited when he saw you and said hello!!! The girls were born in Waratah Hospital which I think has changed direction to being a geriatric hospital now – from one stage of life to another.
        Yes i’m sure we’d see some differences in the place now! Thanks for mentioning me in your image on your home page 🙂

        • It was a big surprise for sure when he looked over and said my name. What a guy. Interesting isnt it about the changes in a place. You would find some areas unchanged but the closer to the beaches and harbour are very “big city vibe”.

  5. Denyse, Glad to see you’ve been out and about and enjoyed yourself at the Writers’ Festival. I haven’t been to any indoor in-person events since the pandemic started even though they’re available in Ontario. Take care and have a great week!

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      It was great Natalie. Nothing like some connections that feel good and replenish us.

      We wore masks and people involved as guides/volunteers and speakers did RATs each day.

      The covid risk is reducing somewhat but we will never be too carefree. We hope to get our 4th vaccine soon as they are being offered (and recommended) to over 65s, along with the flu jab for the coming winter season.

      Denyse.

  6. Hi Denyse – good on you for getting out and about and doing such a big day trip by yourself. I’m very reluctant to stretch myself that far, so you have my complete admiration! Glad it was worth the effort and you enjoyed it all so much (and a front row seat!) Nice to see so many without masks too – here in WA we’re all wearing them everywhere inside and I’m SO over it all!

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      I admit I need to do things like that because if I stayed at home or expected B to join me, I would go nowhere.

      I enjoy being at the events and make the most of them but I also like doing it by myself so I can go for a walk between events or sit with a coffee.

      Driving by myself and longish distances is something I have been doing for a long time as the visits to Sydney for my cancer checks were so many (and for B, very wearing on his body) and long. I put on an audible book or some fave music and feel safe in my car.

      I know over the years to come I may not feel as confident but right now, and how well I feel, I relish this independence.

      The masks were around for a LONG time here and the QR codes/check ins. It feels so freeing now!!

      Denyse.

  7. Have mask will travel .
    You sound so much more alive now you’ve had that first foray into ‘life as before’ even with its minor restrictions and considerations.
    I know with the high numbers still in the community the more we mix (even with our ‘vaccination protection’) that concern will stay with us for a while longer. Sadly many are wishing it would all go away, they are fed up and resent having to be careful. Better safe than sorry is still relevant thinking even this far along
    We took our first train and ferry ride for a very long time on Saturday – both were crowded so my fingers are going to be crossed for a few more days.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      As we age, despite our vaccination status, we cannot always be sure about protection I know. Dad, so far, in his isolated unit and mixing with few, has escaped a small covid outbreak where he lives.

      We will have vax #4 soon along with the flu injection and fingers crossed stay OK.

      After my years of being ‘restricted’ by IBS and fear/anxiety in 2015-early 2017, it feels wonderful to stretch my wings again. But I am always glad to be back home.

      Today a case in point. Drove to see Dad. M1 good conditions and safe car. Know the traffic conditions and streets well and I love to go solo anyway. Listened to an audible book. Left home at 9. Back by 3.

      Take care too.

      Denyse

  8. I do love writers festivals. Our local festival is fantastic with international guests and has gained quite a reputation around the country. It’s on in May, and as with Newcastle, is the first since 2019. I was planning to attend Trent Daltons session but the broken arm put all thoughts of it out of my mind.

    • Oh Jennifer, I know how hard that must have been to type too. I am so sorry about your broken arm. Not fun AT ALL.

      Thinking of you.

      Denyse.

  9. That sounds wonderful! I would love to attend a writer’s festival but I have never heard of them here in the U.S… at least not in our corner of it.

    • It is a very good experience for us readers of books, Joanne. Getting to hear how books and stories evolve and more is enlighteing.

      Warm wishes

      Denyse.

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