Why We Love Newcastle

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.

Newcastle Urban Planner Emily Davies O'Sullivan.jpg

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?

  1. 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!

  2. Go to the farmers markets and have the Tibetan dumplings

  3. Check out Blackbutt Reserve for a picnic

  4. 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.

  5. The beaches... just do it... any and all of them!


Thanks Emily! 

Fun Things to do in Newcastle this October

There is a spring in our step with the change of seasons! Despite some major roadworks, there are still great things to do in Newcastle this month. Here is our guide to get you absorbing art & culture in Newcastle, and feasting your way through food markets. 


HOME - Civic Theatre

HOME is Tantrum Youth Arts' personal exploration of what it means to feel at home: in the world, in your country, in your suburb, in yourself.

When: On now until 14 October


Jamaican Sounds at Antojitos

Get down to Antojitos in Carrington for Newcastle’s best Mexican and some vintage Jamaican sounds.

When: Friday, 13 October


China Week Night Noodle Market

Take your tastebuds on a journey at the Night Noodle Market during China Week and enjoy music, dance and illuminated sights.

When: China Week - 12-15 October, Night Noodle Market - Saturday 14 October


Newcastle Bar Hunter Walking Tour

Bring your friends on our Newcastle Bar Hunter walking tour! We will show you the most difficult to find small bars and taste their signature drinks, all while learning about Newcastle's history and drinking culture.

When: Thursdays to Sundays, or on request

Newcastle bar tour with Newcastle Afoot.jpg


Newcastle Interchange Opens

The long awaited and controversial train station officially opens this Sunday. The $200m project includes a roof made up of 7000 steel components, put together by Kurri Kurri fabricators Alfabs Engineering Group.

When: Sunday 15 October



Crowne2Crowne Cycle Classic 2017

Feeling fit? Do a 58km charity bike ride from Crowne Plaza Newcastle to Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley. Funds raised go to Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.

When: Sunday 15 October

Fluro Fridays - Newcastle Beach

Make the most of the spring weather and look after your mental health by heading to Newcastle Beach for some multicoloured saltwater therapy with friends at Fluro Fridays.

When: 6:30am Fridays


Spring Water Bug Survey

Put your citizen scientist hat on and discover what quirky water bugs are living in our local streams. More info on the Council Facebook page.

When: 14 - 18 October


Kilchoman Whisky Tasting at The Blind Monk

Try some scotch whisky at The Blind Monk and learn about flavour profiles, tasting notes, and nosing techniques. A cocktail with Kilchoman whisky and canopes provided.

When: Thursday 19 October


Transmission @ The Lock Up

Transmission is a group exhibition exploring the ways contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists are responding to the resurgence in traditional practices and their place within the contemporary cultural context.

When: Exhibition Opening and Symposium are on Saturday 21 October


Ten Pound Pom Book Launch - Newcastle City Library

Be the first to see this beautiful new book illustrated by iconic local artist and British migrant Liz Anelli. Further information on the Newcastle City Library website.

When: Friday 20 October 2017


Street Feast

Street Feast is moving beach-side this month! Share a meal with loved ones at this outdoor night food market presented by the Hunt&Gather team.

When: Saturday 14 October at Empire Park, Bar Beach. Saturday 28 October at Dixon Park, Merewether.


Real Film Festival

Entering its sixth year, the Real Film Festival has its most jam-packed program yet, featuring film screenings, short film competitions, open air cinema, development workshops and networking events.

When: 27 - 29 October


Library After Dark: Cocktail and Dinner Party - Newcastle City Library

Hosted by Mikey Robbins, this cocktail party will pay homage to some great stories with a literary twist. Dinner will be served in the refurbished ground floor library. Local artist Naomi Wild will create an art piece painted before your eyes. Further information on the Newcastle City Library website.

When: Saturday 28 October


The Drawing Room - The Royal Exchange

After something a bit more off-beat? Head to The Drawing Room for live modelling, projections and a convivial “artmosphere”. Bring your own art equipment, no booking necessary.

When: Tuesday 31 October


Newcastle Afoot provides small group walking tours and local experiences that aim to explore the diversity of our city's culture, old and new. Our tours and experiences are relaxed, informative and fun.