SO you have taken the plunge and moved to Newcastle. Congratulations on a terrific life choice. In the interests of seeing new arrivals assimilate comfortably, please find below a cheat sheet to understanding the local people and their customs, for there are many subtleties associated with being a proud Novocastrian. Did you spot that one I just used? No?
For the uninitiated, one must use the accompanying adjective ‘proud’ whenever using the noun ‘Novocastrian’. You are not a Novocastrian if you are not a proud one, although the adjective passionate is acceptable when discussing those who pay to attend the ISC in July during an east coast low, stand on the hill covered in a plastic poncho and drink $7 mid-strength dishwater while watching the Knights get beaten 40-nil. That’s passionate. Apparently.
Ships and ship horns. Newcastle harbour is much better than Sydney harbour. Like everything in Newcastle, it is iconic. And it’s perfectly acceptable to call the constructed sea wall groyne entrance “Newcastle Heads”. Get to know the difference between Panamax, New Panamax and Capesize ships to impress visitors as you take a stroll out near Newcastle Heads.
Horns. One blast of a ship horn lets others know a ship is coming. But five blasts in quick succession means you need to get out of the way NOW. There is a legislated requirement that all ship horns must blow four-times harder between the hours of midnight and 4am.
You must know when to add an ‘o’ sound and when to add a ‘y’ sound. Newie or Newy is fine, but Newy Lamby is never an acceptable way to refer to New Lambton. Carro Bowlo is perfectly OK. Be cautious here. Listen to the local dialect closely before falling for such new player traps as referring to Kooragang as Koory or Pelican as Pello. Them’s fighting words.
Driving in the area requires specialist knowledge. It’s usual custom to never use an indicator when approaching or leaving a roundabout and to sit paralysed with fear and confusion when at a four-way intersection in Cooks Hill or Hamo when all vehicles are facing stop signs.
If a vehicle ever wants to change into your lane, use of its indicator to do so is a direct threat to your identity and family. You must speed up immediately and NEVER EVER allow anyone using an indicator in to your lane. Remember, it’s your lane. It’s your lane remember.
Obeying speed limits on Industrial Drive when approaching Newcastle from Tourle Street onward is strictly forbidden and if you have a big ute you must get close enough to the car in front so that you can see their speedo. Those with L plates may be extended a middle finger greeting upon eye contact.
It’s fine to wear speedos or bikinis to Coles at Marketown or Bunnings at Kotara if it’s more than 28.5 degrees, regardless of age or physical condition. But wearing only modest underwear will attract the wrath and condemnation of social media and finger wagging from a magistrate.
You need to get to know local TV personalities. I know five people who have had speaking roles on RBT. Big Dog is a sacred figure and questioning the dawg’s legitimacy will have you socially shunned faster than stink travels.
There are other things you’ll pick up by watching and mixing with the locals – things such as leaf blower use being legal only between 4am and 7am.
Welcome to Newcastle. I hope you love it as much as the locals.