Foreign perceptions of Newcastle as a hipster, biking city

IMG_6107How does one really get to know what a city is like without actually living in it? Sure, you can read travel brochures and do web searches and even take a reality tour on Google Maps to see what it looks like at the street level and to find out what is there to see, but does that really let you know what it will be like when you get there? So I was highly amused to read some American perceptions of our town, which described is as a former “crime ridden ghost town” now transformed into an artistic mecca, and as a “Bohemian paradise“! IMG_6105These are high praises indeed, I only wish they were true! And it is true that the centre of Newcastle has been changed by Renew Newcastle, and to such an extent that this program is being modelled both here and overseas, so successful has it become here. But these foreign perceptions are flawed both in their view of Newcastle’s derelict past and also its idyllic present. IMG_6075

Sure, there have been (and still are), many disused buildings along Hunter Street which have lent themselves to the renewal of the city centre via the arts program which allows new and innovative businesses to use those spaces for nominal rentals. This whole phenomenon makes Newcastle seem tawdry rather than a ghost town. But, as the linked commentators have pointed out, it provided an opportunity for “artrepreneurs” to capitalise on. And it is changing Newcastle. While it makes Newcastle seem really cool to call it one of the great hipster cities of the world, this is possibly an overstatement, I think to myself. But then I see the arty shops, the murals, the coffee shops, the artisanal businesses, springing up in alleyways and in old buildings, and I think, just maybe, it is true. Even as far out as Adamstown, new coffee shops are adding a flavour not seen here before, and as I sit in one of them and watch the bike riders cruising past, on their way into town, or to the Fernleigh Track, I think there may be more than a hint of truth in those foreign perceptions.IMG_6094

Because bikes will be the mode of transport in the hipster, arty Newcastle of the present and the near future. They are the preferred mode of transport of these denizens who are shaping the evolution of this city, they are what will make this city “liveable”, to use the catch cry of city planners. With their minuscule carbon footprint and thrifty appeal, they are the transport of choice for the future owners of the city.

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3 Responses to Foreign perceptions of Newcastle as a hipster, biking city

  1. anniebikes says:

    Yay. Isn’t it nice that your city is viewed as hip and progressive? The more publicity the better. More entrepreneurs, More people wanting to be a part of it. You’re beginning to look at Newcastle in a different light…

    • Vicki says:

      I have always wanted to see newcastle this way I think, Annie, it is good to see others seeing it the same way. In reality, though, it is small pockets that are like this, and in the bigger cities here it is much more evident that there are very hipster areas.

  2. The town features a large ethnic food scene- including a Chinatown! Perhaps all of this awesome food will remind me of living in D.C. and it and my friends won’t seem all that far away. The city features many theatres, art galleries, pubs, clubs, and much more. It is rated number 7 for top nightlife in the world. Not sure I’ll have much time for this… but if anyone comes to visit perhaps we’ll venture out to experience this! Newcastle Beer and Sting are from here!

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