The Historic Hunter

Several weeks ago I was in the Hunter Valley which has many towns dating back to the 19th century. (A very short time period compared to the thousands of years of Aboriginal ownership of the land). In the larger centres the original facades of the 19th century buildings are visible rising above the ground floor of contemporary shops.

Here are two such facades. The first is in Singleton, located on John St, built in 1898.

The facade of the Singleton Arcade, watercolour, 9 October 2015

The facade of the Singleton Arcade, watercolour, 9 October 2015

When I moved around to the front of the building I could see this interesting chimney, to the rear of the facade.

Chimney detail, the Singleton Arcade, pen and ink, 9 October 2015

Chimney detail, the Singleton Arcade, pen and ink, 9 October 2015

Several days later I visited Maitland. The long main street here is also full of interesting buildings. 437 High St is now the home to up-market boutiques and gift shops. I was surprised to find out that it was even older than the Singleton Arcade. This building, originally built for the Australasian Bank (through subsequent transmogrifications becoming the ANZ Bank), was completed in 1869 and opened the following year. Its French styling and rounded ist floor balcony  takes advantage of it’s corner location. This is a real stand-out among the other nearby buildings.

The first floor of 437 High St, Maitland, watercolour, 12 October 2015

The first floor of 437 High St, Maitland, watercolour, 12 October 2015

North to Newcastle

We’ve just had a quick visit to see my family in Newcastle (on the Hunter River in New South Wales, not the city in the UK). I managed a few sketches along the way.

On the drive north we stopped for a cup of coffee at the small town of Marulan, where I had a view of the beautifully restored Royal Hotel, which I think is now a private home.

The Royal Hotel, Marulan, NSW, pen and ink, 4 March 2015

The Royal Hotel, Marulan, NSW, pen and ink, 4 March 2015

In Newcastle we went into the city where we had dinner at a pub on the harbour. This place has been built inside, what I recall, as originally being one of the ‘sheds’ on the No. 4 Lee Wharf. This part of the harbour foreshore has been undergoing a major re-development in recent years. The view on the harbour-side of the building was over to the working side of the port, including the grain loader and the docks for the harbour’s tugs.

Tugs in Newcastle Harbour, NSW, ballpoint pen, 5 March 2015

Tugs in Newcastle Harbour, NSW, ballpoint pen, 5 March 2015

The beaches that line the coast are always a magnet when we visit. Unfortunately the seas were high and rough and the beaches were closed for swimming. That didn’t stop us and all the other beach-goers, walkers and coffee drinkers taking a seat and watching the local surfers riding the waves.

Surfers at Merewether Beach, NSW, pen and ink, ball point pen, 6 March 2015

Surfers at Merewether Beach, NSW, pen and ink, ball point pen, 6 March 2015

It was difficult to catch the moves the surfers were making as each position of their bodies was only held for seconds. I settled for making very quick sketches with my  pen. I was interested to note how often the surfers’ arms appeared to just ‘hang’ in the air, ready to follow the body as the surfers shifted their weight on the board to move across the face of the waves.

Catching the surfers, catching the waves, ball point pen, 6 March 2015

Catching the surfers, catching the waves, ball point pen, 6 March 2015

After a fun few days on the coast we headed up the Hunter Valley into the country for the weekend. It was great to be able to put my feet up and look out across the paddocks to the nearby mountains.

The view to the mountain, near Branxton, NSW, ball point pen, 7 March 2015point pen

The view to the mountain, near Branxton, NSW, ball point pen, 7 March 2015

It was also fun to try and capture the poses of the Welcome Swallows as they sat and preened on the pool fence in the early morning.

Welcome Swallows preening, pen and ink and watercolour, 8 March 2015

Welcome Swallows preening, pen and ink and watercolour, 8 March 2015

And last but not least I found a source of inspiration for a watercolour. Forget the rural idyll, stacked up near the stables were a pile of pre-cast concrete panels, with plenty of interesting passages to test my skills with depicting depth and placement. I was so busy focusing on the details of the panels that I didn’t really stop to look at the overall painting until it was finished.  I was really pleased with the way it came together.

Concrete panels, watercolour 8 March 2015

Concrete panels, watercolour 8 March 2015