Time Out Melbourne

Discover treasure and trouble where Newcastle’s past and future collide

One minute you’re drinking with a salty old sea dog, the next you’re out to sea scrubbing decks. This was the fate of 540 men shanghaied from Newcastle over a six-month period in 1889. Now it’s your turn...

Place of Coal
Newcastle is the largest coal exporter in the world, shipping 150 million tonnes yearly. It began in 1799 when 50 tonnes left the top of Watt Street and loaded at the bottom en route to Bengal – Australia’s first coal deal.

Macquarie’s Chest
Created in 1818, only discovered in 1974, this chest was a gift for Governor Lachlan Macquarie from his officers who loaded it with rare art and natural history artefacts. A time capsule projected to the present here.

Buildings and public spaces change based on a city’s working and social life. These movies ask what Watt Street might be in 100 years.

Car culture
Car nuts, rev heads, fanging hoons – Newcastle’s proud history of auto-erotica guns it down Watt Street as a proto-charged series of lightning sketch animations.

Boom & bust
Watt Street may look the very image of a thoroughfare in a modern metropolis during City Evolutions, but its origins are humble. Newcastle harbour was discovered by accident by Lieutenant Shortland in 1797 while he was stumbling through the endless scrub looking for escaped convicts.

His discovery of coal changed everything.

Coal became the first export of the colony. And the path chosen to convey it was the treeless corridor the Awabakal used as a walking track between the hill and the water.

Watt Street was born – a street for people, for industry, for revolutions and Evolutions. The sands of time may have shifted, but the footsteps of the past remain, some as ghostly impressions and others carved in stone. Cnr King & Watt Sts.

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Updated on 10 Mar 2014.

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