THE way they talk so passionately about Newcastle, Suzie Galwey and Jock Carter sound like Novocastrians. Ms Galwey even uses the term “Newy”. Yet they, and their two children, have lived in Newcastle for less than six years.
Mr Carter was to help establish a new landmark on the harbour foreshore: the Newcastle Agri Terminal grain silos at Carrington. So the family moved from Sydney’s lower north shore in early 2012.
“I didn’t know a lot about Newcastle,” says Ms Galwey. “I was apprehensive because we had a nice life in Sydney, and a couple of friends thought we wouldn’t stay here. They said, ‘you’ll be back soon’.”
Mr Carter knew more about Newcastle. As a supply chain specialist, he had been coming here since the 1990s. He remembers being taken out for a dinner of fish and chips with a carton of beer by the harbour, “and I thought, this is fantastic!’.”
He had arrived at a similar conclusion for building the grain terminal in what is renowned as the world’s largest coal export port.
“The city and the port have amazing bones,” he says. “It’s a deep water port, it’s well protected. So even if the coal industry goes over time - I don’t think the coal industry is going to disappear any time soon - you are going to have this amazing legacy in the infrastructure.”
He also believes the terminal is in the right place because Novocastrians “are not averse to a working port”. Mr Carter feels while residents don’t want dust and noise, they have a deep interest in the port and the life of a harbour and industrial city.
“I think people are very proud of the industrial heritage of Newcastle,” adds Ms Galwey.
“There’s nowhere else like it in Australia, that blend of industry, community and the arts,” says Mr Carter.
Standing on the wharves near the grain terminal, Jock Carter points across the water.
“The new burgeoning city and the working port together,” he says. “That’s one of the things we love about Newcastle.”
More than build a grain terminal, Jock Carter and Suzie Galwey have built a life for their family by the harbour. They live on The Hill, with a view across to the grain terminals. As we talk in their home, we hear a ship’s horn.
“The irony is when we were first here, we wondered how we were going to sleep; now we never hear it,” Mr Carter says.
Suzie Galwey recalls in the first few weeks in Newcastle, she wondered if her Sydney friends had been right; she missed the bigger harbour city. She bought a motor scooter to get around and was stunned how she seemed to have more time.
“In Sydney, I was always 10 minutes late,” she recalls. “Here, I was 10 minutes early. I couldn’t believe how everything was so close. I’ve adjusted now!”
And she remembers when Newcastle seduced her.
“I had this moment, I was riding down to Newcastle Baths and I came over the hill and seeing the mist rolling in and the sun coming up and I just thought this a really beautiful city.
“We can walk into the city, and get all the things you’d find in a big city. It’s got that little bit of city sophistication.”
“I love the diversity,” adds Mr Carter. “You can be in Carrington at the grain terminal, and go to great restaurants, have great coffee, all in the same space, all cohabiting within a few hundred metres of each other.”
So are they becoming Novocastrians?
“You’re not allowed, you’ve got to be born here,” laughs Ms Galwey. “Maybe honorary members.”
“People say it’s an insular town, but I don’t find that at all,” says Mr Carter. “It’s welcoming, more so than a big city, and more so than a country town.”