OVERHEARD recently at Merewether baths, presumably from one of its regulars: a comment on how, when Newcastle Ocean Baths are shut, all the 'fat ladies' turn up at Merewether. Give me Newcastle baths any day. Sure, we do not get all the glowing 'positive' press; sure, we are not 'iconic' (though, which pool's image is the more recognisable one?), nor have we had a multi-million dollar facelift.
But we do have nice soft sand under our feet, we do have nice open change rooms that let in the sunlight, and, most importantly of all, we have tolerance of bathers of all ages, shapes and sizes. We even allow those walking in the water for exercise the chance to do so without being scowled at or elbowed in the face because someone lap swimming out of the designated lanes thinks we are in his or her way.
You can pick the Newcastle interlopers (apart from our apparent size, of course): we talk, we laugh, we interact with other users, we have fun. Thank goodness for the comfort of Merewether users that it's only once a week!
Was I personally offended by the 'fat ladies' comment? No, not really. I do find it rather disheartening, though, that there are people out there who have that mindset.
MR Will Creedon of Newcastle Tourism Group says we need to give visitors directions to the many tourist attractions we have. No one would argue about that, so I'd like to know why Newcastle, the sixth largest city in Australia, doesn't have a decent stand alone Tourist Information Centre.
I understand the current so-called information centre is a small counter housed inside the Newcastle Maritime Centre. This is an absolute disgrace for a city of this size which has such a lot to offer tourists.
I had a friend visiting me from Melbourne who hadn't been to Newcastle before.
I was showing her around the city precinct and she was very impressed. I took her into the so-called tourist information centre where there were a few brochures and not much else. Thought I'd ask a test question which I already knew the answer to: “Can you please tell me what transport is available to Williamtown airport”? The gentleman who was a volunteer for the Newcastle Maritime Centre had no idea and suggested we ask at one of the hotels.
Having travelled extensively, my first port of call as a visitor to any city is usually the Tourist Information Centre. They're usually in a very convenient location with ample parking and toilet facilities. Pleasant, knowledgeable counter staff are always very helpful. Internet facilities, maps, transport information and accommodation booking facilities. These are just standard expectations of visitors to any city.
Mr Creedon has made many excellent suggestions for further tourism ideas. However I along with many other people believe visitors still need a one stop shop.
You can't expect all visitors to drive into the city centre, the traffic and parking situation is appalling. Efficient transport is needed which is something we don't have at present. Whilst many would say all this is available by searching on the internet, you can't beat the personal interaction with a tourist information centre.
Just look at Melbourne, the Gold Coast and even Nelson Bay. These Tourist Information Centres are always full of visitors.
REVITALISING Newcastle has announced that road works will start on Monday to upgrade the intersection of King Street and Darby Street. These works were identified in the REF and will be needed when the light rail is completed. However, will these works provide any real benefit at this time of upheaval in the city?
Ideally these works should have been completed before the work started in Hunter Street. There has been no consultation with the community about the scheduling of these works. They just announce that they are happening. Due to the significant reduction in traffic flows since work started on the light rail project traffic is flowing reasonably well through the intersection. So are these works really necessary at this time?
Meanwhile the obvious need for traffic signals at the Civic Park pedestrian crossing is being left to regularly disrupt the flow of traffic in King Street. Are they still unaware of this problem or have they just run out of ideas and money?
THE political world seems to have gone troppo recently. The USA announced tariff introductions, seemingly without any plan behind it. Policy on the run? Dare I mention the Barnaby Joyce affair (excuse the pun) and the NSW idea announced to pour $2 billion into demolishing and then rebuilding two sporting arenas in Sydney? An announcement that still has no business case supporting it. These sporting arenas seem to have the backing of some sporting hierarchy but so far little in the way of public input. Policy on the run?
Meanwhile, we have increases and reintroduction of toll roads in the greater Sydney area. Locally we suffer greatly from the bizarre deal to lease off the Port of Newcastle for $1.7 billion and couple that deal with a significant levy of circa $1 million per container vessel throughput in this port. The really bizarre bit is that I understand this levy goes directly to the Botany Bay or Port Kembla container terminals. There is no plan to fully reinvest these amounts to Newcastle. Policy on the run? Never mind considering creating an infrastructure benefit by rebuilding the Sandy Hollow rail line and connecting Dubbo to Newcastle with a beneficial rail goods and passenger service.
All of this and more while pensions have not been increased and wages growth held back for years. Many of our pollies at federal level are acting like spoiled brats and testosterone fuelled teenagers as evidenced again yesterday in a senate inquiry. At state level we hear about inappropriate behaviour taking place.
Now we have a sell-off of the state share in the Snowy Hydro scheme and a simultaneous announcement that the revenue from that sale will benefit country areas in NSW. I don’t object to that but I see pigs and barrels rolling out.
What on earth are we paying for, us long-suffering voters? It seems we are paying for party time for many, thoughtlessness and enforced acceptance of the spending of public monies. We deserve better.
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