Friday, March 5, 2010

Newcastle: It Really Was That Ridiculous

I try not to talk about my home town too much but I obviously don't have much success. The problem is, my hometown is the most ridiculous place in the entire world. I am frequently reminded of just how ridiculous it was. Just now, Vegatrain was wheeling me around the courtyard in the wheelchair. Being wheeled around in a strangely misleading vessel from boring sight to boring sight reminded me of one of the stupidest things about Newcastle. I am, of course, talking about the Newcastle Tram.

The first thing one might notice upon discovering the Newcastle Tram is that it is very clearly not a tram. It's a bus, ok. It has wheels, it follows the roads and there aren't even any tram tracks in Newcastle. Stop trying to pretend you are Melbourne, Newcastle, you are not fooling anybody.

It was a tourist thing, and supposedly took the bewildered traveller from historic sight to historic sight. Now, I actually rode the Newcastle Tram once and the only "historic sight" I can remember seeing was a wall. They drove us past it, claiming that it was the oldest wall in Newcastle, built by the convicts. It was no Sistine Chapel.

But still, Newcastle particularly fancied it's chances as the next big Australian tourist attraction. We had Bootmen, after all. Most Novocastrians could point out their house in at least one scene of that one. Then, there was Silverchair. A good friend of mine was personally pointed and laughed at by both Daniel Johns and Natalie Imbruglia when her dog had decided it needed to be carried home on a particularly hot walk. There was a Superman film done there as well and as a result of their location choice there are cars exploding in the background of many of my year 12 formal photos. For real, you guys.

And yet, Newcastle always missed the bar with their tourism ideas. I remember one television ad featuring picturesque locations at sunset. The song they had chosen to accompany these images was "Love This City" by the Whitlams. Naturally, the only clip of the song they used was the bits with the lyrics "You gotta love this city, love this city, love it". I would love to know if anyone involved in the production of this advertisement ever actually listened to the rest of it.

But my favourite attempt at tourism is by far, the infamous Penis Tower. This was an observation tower on the foreshore which adorned many a postcard. Apparently the architects had been really proud of it. They failed to realise at any point in the building/publicity process that it was a giant dong:

I do love the fact that I moved from a town where the most recognisable structure is a giant phallus to a town where the most recognisable structure is a pair of giant silver balls. There's a kind of poetry in that.

-Smackie Onassis

EDIT: I found a picture of "Newcastle's Famous Tram". Note: not a tram.

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