Newcastle (6th largest city in Australia by pop., New South Wales, east coast of Australia) is an odd city. On one hand Newcastle is famous for being a "Steel City", an industrial centre and the largest coal-exporting port (by tonnage/year) in the world. On the other, we've got more foliage in and around the city than Sydney (largest population centre of Australia, 150km south) ever will.
And besides, Newcastle doesn't even make steel anymore - BHP moved its steel production to Indonesia, since it's apparently cheaper to ship the iron-ore from here to Indonesia, process it there and then ship it back for milling right here in Australia. And this steel is then exported overseas to buyers.
Isn't economic-globalisation wonderful? ;)
I've lived in Newcastle for my entire life, not counting forays to other cities and indeed other countries for holidays. It's not a bad place. Perhaps not as much to do as, say, Sydney, but at least everything is within 20-30 minute's drive at most and riding a bike isn't a ludicrous alternative to owning and driving a car around.
Public transport isn't so good, in particular the train transport which finds it awkward to make it around all the hills and ridgelines. And the bus system works on a purely radial basis, meaning that an 8 minute drive from your place to a friend's house could actually take up to an hour and a half by bus, as you head allllll the way into town on one radial, and then alllllll the way back out to your friend's place. Argh.
But that's why people invented mountain bikes (I think). Especially with places like Glenrock Lagoon, Blackbutt Reserve and Jesmond Park nearby. Glenrock's a curious place, much like the rest of Newcastle. Not more than a kilometre or three from the nearest main roads, and yet while you're there there's no hint of another human being within one hundred kilometres of you. Birds chirping. Creeks babbling. Closer to the coastline the bird calls fade and exchange places with the soft hush of the waves on the soft-sand beaches below.
The views are spectacular - I hope my photos can convey at least some of that to readers, and the area generally inaccessible enough (for the average car-loving citizen) that you only find like-minded mountainbikers and hikers on your trip, and even then it's likely you won't encounter a single other human on the way through.
Not a bad place to think about things. Not a bad place at all.
And now, Pictures!
(Useless trivia - The lagoon after which Glenrock Lagoon is named is no longer a lagoon, technically, since years of constructive waves have built up a sandbar which seperates the stagnant water of the lagoon from the not-so-stagnant ocean)