Living in Newcastle at the moment feels like an episode of Selling Houses Australia. Like a film montage, change has ramped up, and every time we look up a developer is striding in the door with an iPad and “a vision”. Cue Shaynna Blaze and that real estate bloke, swanning in, having a poke around the city and declaring that it has good bones, but its decor and layout are hideous. However, they sigh, it’s nothing that some paint (ecru maybe?), rental furniture and a load of expensive old tat can’t fix.
Yeah, nah, I’m not buying it.
To be a true Novocastrian is to appreciate and embrace the city’s traditional dodgy/adorable vibe. For me, it’s a style that has made Newcastle such a fun place in which to work and play. But this vibe, honed over decades, is under serious attack.
The cookie-cutters have moved in.
Items, buildings, institutions that have embodied this style have already been destroyed or altered in order to conform to an idea of what sort of face the city should be presenting to the world. Apparently the global stage is calling but we are still in make-up waiting for the right amount of pancake so we can “pop” under the lights.
These sites may seem insignificant to some, but they are (were) visions to behold. Take the now gone DJs car park. I heard plenty of voices (with affected lilts) describe it as an eyesore. Well, I’ll have you know, that concrete tardis was the most infuriating car park in the Hunter, mainly because of its crazy-narrow parking spaces and ramps. If you managed to get out of there without at least $1000 worth of panel damage, you were winning. Sure, it was a dodgiest car park in the Southern Hemisphere, but it was our dodgy car park.
Now the Queens Wharf tower is on death row. This proud structure is the last remaining side of the Foreshore’s famous Triangle of Innuendo. Those who grew up in the city in the late 80s-90s would recall the wharf erection, Fanny’s and the Windward Passage (aka the Wayward Sausage). I suspect the only reason why the tower is going is because someone has whined that such a confronting sight might cause future cruise ship arrivals to choke on their Fluffy Ducks.
So, it’s all hands on deck Novocastrians. Keep the vibe alive, or watch the way our unique cookie crumbles.