Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CANVAS & FLIGHT CENTRE -

• • • • • New­cas­tle: sport­ing as well as artistic.Four-time surf­ing world cham­pion Mark Richards came from New­cas­tle – and the city has also pro­duced more dancers for the Aus­tralian Bal­let com­pany that any other city in Aus­tralia. Fort Scratch­ley was orig­i­nally a coal mine. In fact, it was Aus­tralia’s first coal mine and it was ex­ca­vated by con­vict labour. The en­trances to the mine were sealed when the fort was built in 1885. Peo­ple have lived in New­cas­tle and sur­round­ing ar­eas for at least 6500 years. The orig­i­nal peo­ple here were the Awabakal, Worimi, Wonarua, Geawe­gal, Bir­rpai and Dark­in­jung tribes. Port Stephens has a bridge that sings. It crosses the Myall River and in a strong south­west­erly, it acts like a wind harp. Vir­gin Aus­tralia has made it eas­ier for Ki­wis to ac­cess the Hunter Val­ley and Port Stephens re­gions with a new di­rect sea­sonal ser­vice from Auck­land to New­cas­tle, starting on Novem­ber 22. • • • • • Keep your eyes peeled for the north­ern brown bandi­coot, a small na­tive crea­ture the size of a small rab­bit. Its young are born just 12.5 days af­ter con­cep­tion. The Worimi Con­ser­va­tion Lands in­clude over 25km of coast­line, most of stun­ning Stock­ton Beach, which curves 32km from the Hunter River at New­cas­tle to Buribi Point in Anna Bay, Port Stephens. The first peo­ple to live in the Hunter Val­ley were the Won­narua and Awabakal Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple who oc­cu­pied the up­per val­ley for at least 30,000 years. Euro­peans dis­cov­ered the val­ley when they were look­ing for con­victs, es­caped from the pe­nal colony at New­cas­tle. They named it Hunter Val­ley, for John Hunter the cap­tain of the HMS Sir­ius, the flag­ship of the First Fleet. By 1823 about 20 acres of vine­yards had al­ready been planted on the north­ern banks of the Hunter River.

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