Every now and then we will be asking an interesting local what makes Newcastle special for them, and why others should check it out. This month: Emily Davies O'Sullivan.
Emily Davies O'Sullivan is a Senior Urban Planner and mum based in Newcastle. She is enthusiastic about people power and the creative industries, being the Co-director of Idea Bombing Newcastle and on the board of local arts organisation Octapod.
What do you want people from interstate and overseas to know about Newcastle?
We used to be a steel city but now we are an awesome mini city, a cute package that is physically beautiful, smart, creative and easy (most of the time). Just what you want from any good relationship.
You're very vocal about your love for Newcastle. After living away for a while what appealed to you about coming back?
The lifestyle. I had spent some time living and working in Sydney and then some time traveling and I was very ready to come back to a place where life was a bit easier.
I love the scale of Newcastle, there is is enough going on that you could be out every night, but it's still a community and chances are everyone is a friend of a friend. Then I love the emerging innovation industry, the established art and creative culture and the ever important coffee and food culture.
I loved that you could still afford to buy up here and that the beaches and natural landscapes are right on our door step too. There is work for two town planners (Emily's partner is also a planner) and my parents are still here for free babysitting.
You recently took part in the NextCity Vanguard conference, where over 40 local and international urban innovators came up with ideas for the old Newcastle Post Office and Newcastle Train Station. Newcastle is the first city outside of the U.S. to host a Vanguard. What did you learn about Newcastle from taking part?
I was pretty proud of Newcastle that week! It really shone and the delegates were blown away, they loved the city, warts and all. I learnt that we have amazing potential still and that we have heaps to learn from international examples and also that it is great to get out of our own head and open up to fresh perspectives on the future of the city.
What's your favourite fact or story from Newcastle's past?
I love that the hairdresser in Stockton told my Nanna that her grandpa used to shoot sharks from the break wall over in Stocko back in the day... it was that kind of place...
I love hearing the dreaming stories of the area too, although I don't hear enough or know enough.
What are your top 5 tips for visitors to Newcastle?
Hire a bike and ride around the east end, then catch the ferry over to Stocko and ride out the break wall there and catch a sunset from the north side!
Go to the farmers markets and have the Tibetan dumplings
Check out Blackbutt Reserve for a picnic
Make sure you visit over a weekend or at the end of the week because there is more of a buzz and often markets or openings.
The beaches... just do it... any and all of them!