Working for a railway which for 141 of its 149 years of existence only owned infrastructure in the state of Queensland, I don’t usually travel to other states for project-based work. Usually, the places I visit look a bit like this and are on the outer edge of nowhere:
However, I have been lucky enough to become involved in a project which is based on Newcastle: an actual city in a different state!
A Newcastle flight is barely long enough to turn your flight-moded iPad on and off again, but we got some extra value from ours on Tuesday afternoon where we were required to board twice. It appeared as though someone on the flight had been allowed to take his checked bag on the plane. Consequently, by federal law, we all had to disembark and go through security again. We did, however, get to see some of the back corners of the airport where the general public is usually not permitted, so at least we got a free behind the scenes tour, even if we were about an hour delayed (for our hour flight).
I was sitting next to my colleague, DD, on the flight because we were booked on the same ticket. This afforded me some of her Gold privileges, such as sitting up the front and jumping queues like an “it girl”. DD had to check herself when we landed. It was so green, she had a moment of doubt about being on the correct flight but then quickly remembered that we weren’t actually supposed to be in Mackay. Crisis averted.
Another change we noticed as soon as we stepped off the plane and embraced the cool wind evaporating pin pricks of moisture from our skin, instead of the Brisbane “breeze” like the breath of a coffee-drinking giant.
Our accommodation was booked at Noah’s on the Beach at Mereweather, which, on this afternoon, was a little stormy and dramatic, the perfect location for a meeting between Cathy and Heathcliff. The hotel was charming! Old style, glamorous furnishings with a seaside touch. I took a photo of my room because I was particularly in to my curtains.
I had about half an hour before meeting my colleagues for dinner, so I went for a walk along the water’s edge, down to the Ocean Baths, which, as I recall, I had seen before in the movie Bootmen. I over-indulged in the photo taking but I’m not really sorry I did.
I am fascinated by shadowed clouds and churning tides. I get a strange feeling of misplaced nostalgia when I am in cool places with bad weather. I found a word which describes this feeling a little on Word Porn’s Facebook page:
But, I didn’t have forever to explore my sehnsucht at the beach, I had to meet my colleagues for dinner in the beautiful dining room.
The food was incredible! In the morning, we also ate here watching the sun sparkle on the water and enjoying buffet poached eggs, which came in their own little egg-sized saucers.
We had time for a quick coffee at the Foreshore before our first meeting so I panorama-ed it:
We returned to the Foreshore for lunch and were surrounded by flocks of bold seagulls.
You might think that I spent all of my time on this trip eating, but alas, I’ve just left all the boring engineering bits out.
In the afternoon, we had time to look at the area where the project would be constructed. It appears that NSW signalling equipment is housed in much more interesting quarters than ours. We saw one equipment room which was two storeys, with a verandah all the way around, painted with a railway-themed mural. Newcastle indeed!
We also drove through some interesting forest where the leave had re-grown directly on the trunks, which I hadn’t seen before. It looked like the trees were wearing green feather boas.
Our return flight was much less eventful. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Davey waiting for me at the airport which was a delightful way to end my work trip.