Newcastle Port: entertaining and interesting too!
I have just spent a couple of months in the city of Newcastle, New South Wales. I had been here for a couple of days before, but it was the present extended stay that made me get to know the city better. My stay is nearly over now and I think I will miss this place, as it sure has been entertaining to be here! It is also on the Pacific and I have a great respect for that ocean, as I was born on its shores in Lima, Peru.
The city of Newcastle is famous for its coal and it is at present the largest coal exporting harbour in the world! It exported over 97 Mt of coal in 2009–10 and it has plans to expand its annual capacity to 180 Mt by the year 2013!
Our rented flat was in Honeysuckle Drive and it overlooked the port. I had never realized it could be so entertaining watching all the activities here. Newcastle is one of the busiest ports in Australia and its main export is coal. It is brought to the port by train and it is then downloaded to the ships, which come mainly from China, India, Korea and other countries, eager for steel. Those ships are quite large and they usually stay in port for a couple of days and then their place is taken over by one of the ships waiting their turn on the horizon just outside the city.
The port activity takes places at any time of the day or night and one can even hear the ship’s sirens when one is in bed, as they announce their arrival or departure. Sometimes they even blow their sirens a few times, as if they were really happy to be here, although it could also be that they are sad to have to leave. It is usual for helicopters to take pilots out to the waiting ships at the entrance to the port and it is those pilots who guide the ships in. Their entrance is also helped by a series of barges and they are the ones who push and pull the boats into position along the wharfs.
Once a boat is in place, the truck musical chairs begins and it is time for big, heavy vehicles to come into operation. A truck comes around to do its duty, It is followed by another, and this process continues incessantly, until their job is all done. In a way it is sad when that time comes and one sees the barges approaching slowly, and one knows that the ship is about to depart soon. Being Latin American, I was quite thrilled when I saw a boat with a flag from Panama, which I could even recognize. That boat stayed longer than the others, but it too set sail one day. Buen viaje, amigos!
In the background one can also hear some church bells, which ring every hour and help me tell the time of day or night. Every so often one can also hear trains and they take passengers to Sydney, which is three hours away, or nearby stations. Just before breakfast every morning and in the early evening, one can also hear the Sydney small Corsair plane bringing a few passengers with their computers to Newcastle They land on the water just in front of our balcony and a few minutes later they take off again to fly back towards the
We have had blue skies most of the time we have been here, but sometimes we get dark clouds, which seem to come from the Hunter Valley direction and rain follows. The port activity is also accompanied by the flight of sea gulls and they are always welcome, as they are so dainty and elegant.
As I look out my balcony today, I realize that the eight barges are not parked in their usual space to my right, but are all out, so there must be a bit boat coming soon. I also see two big, white yachts, one was called Raging Bull, Wombat was the other one, but Anger Management also comes along, with a Diego Maradonna look alike sitting in front. Sure enough, the big boat we were expecting also makes its appearance and it looks just like the Queen Elizabeth II In size too!