A whirlwind trip to Newcastle to celebrate the launch of the city’s new conference and meeting planner’s guide had some hot highlights.

BY LILLIAN LONGFORD

There I was sitting in a helicopter on what I thought would be a relatively subdued Wednesday afternoon. While most people drive or take a coach from Sydney to Newcastle – and it’s a beautiful coastal drive if you’re thinking of doing it – what many PCOs don’t know is that you can go by helicopter and arrive in VIP style. This suited me perfectly.
This fabulous trip was courtesy of the Newcastle Convention & Visitors Bureau who had invited micenet especially to the launch of its new guide. The booklet outlines everything on offer in the culturally bountiful region, and I was about to experience a fun-sized bite of it myself.
Having seen Newcastle from the sky, it was time to get a ground-floor view which I did with a leisurely Peddlecab ride and a very aesthetically pleasing peddler. Naturally, Newcastle looks good from all angles. We rode down the buzzing Honeysuckle Drive which is Newcastle’s little piece of Melbourne, brimming with cute cafés, beautiful new restaurants and boutique pubs. The street where all the cool kids hang out is fast becoming the iconic cultural hub of the region.
A quick refresh in my spacious Sebel Hotel room allowed me to get ready for the launch at Rustica where the Lord Mayor celebrated with the new planner’s guide to the multifaceted destination.
After a wonderful soiree highlighted by whipped chocolate and Spanish sherry tart with raspberry cream, it was time for an afternoon caffeine hit with Sprocket Roasters where I was awoken by more than just the coffee beans. Is it a job requirement that baristas be incredibly good looking? Or perhaps the Newcastle bureau was just showing off some of its best assets today. All perving aside, Mr Barista was quickly turning me from a coffee amateur to connoisseur as I learnt how to identify the signs of burnt coffee, the roasting process, and a few latte art tricks. The workshop would be great for team-building or breaking the ice with new groups.
Another outfit change and I was ready for dinner with the bureau at the new beachfront restaurant, Merewether Surf House. Sitting right on the beach, you can literally smell the sea salt from the waves. It was here that I had one meal I will truly never forget – crispy skin pork belly and seared scallops glazed with a mandarin, star anise and fresh herbs. It was almost as delicious as the barista. Almost.
With all that gourmet food in my stomach, I slept like a baby in my luxurious bed at the Sebel and enjoyed my leisurely lay in while everyone back at the office would have been turning on their computers to start the day.
A luxury spa pedicure at the Royal Day Spa slowly woke me up and began the day on a very good foot, and as I walked out on my new fancy feet, awaiting me was a carriage cloaked in black leather. A bikie from Graeme Boyd Motorcycles – possibly the most un-bikie name I’ve heard – was ready to show me a little more of Newcastle’s beauty. And what a lovely bikie he was. We rode through Honeysuckle Drive to turn a few heads, and then past Tyrell Street to Christ Church Cathedral, Memorial Drive to Strzelecki Lookout, and some of the hidden streets of Newcastle for a behind the scenes look at this charming city.
With sexy windswept hair, I moved from Harley to helicopter and was on my way back to Sydney again. Not a typical Wednesday, but I guess Newcastle isn’t your typical regional town.

Newcastle

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