Newcastle, lot’s of ideas but what do do with them all?


For those of you that are new to my blog, I am from a town called  Newcastle on the east coast of Australia 180km north of Sydney. The town is has a population of about 300 000 people, currently the city is going through a period of rapid change, to the outside the changes are small and not noteworthy, but for us novocastrians these are giant leaps forward.

A couple of weeks ago the Newcastle Herald had an article asking for people with ideas for ‘How to spend a billion on Newcastle’ set by the Newcastle institute

It wasn’t a challenge, Newcastle needs so many things, so I quickly and roughly scrambled together three that had been on my mind for a long time. Fast forward to a few weeks later after being selected from 40 people, me nervously shoving together a power-point presentation of my half formulated wacky ideas.

I wasn’t nervous at the presentation until I looked up and saw about 150 patient grey haired individuals all waiting for what I had to say, something happened I can’t explain and I didn’t deliver it how I wanted.

I learn’t a valuable lesson in putting forward an idea as a presentation, sometimes the way you address the audience your energy and your enthusiasm  rather than the actual nuts and bolts of the idea, can seriously sway people. The next day the article by the Newcastle Herald was poor, predictably listing the craziest ideas for Novocastrian’s to have a laugh at, and forgetting to list one of the most important ideas mentioned, that of making our city run totally on renewable energy, the idea (not my own) that really caught mine and the audiences imagination.

Someone asked at the end of the presentation about what will happen to these ideas, nobody seemed sure exactly and we left with an odd feeling of despondency.

Here was the idea I presented.


Surry Hills community centre

Not long ago I was walking through Surry hills and I came upon the ‘Surry Hills public library and community centre’
I was totally blown away; the space is an inspirational temple to great architecture and design.

I just wanted to go in there and spend some time just reading, I urge people who haven’t seen it to pop in and have a look.

It was created by Architects: Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp

Why can’t Newcastle have something like this?

Surry Hills community centre

The existing Newcastle library is not inspirational to visit, it has its charms but it really isn’t a functional modern space for learning.
A Library like Surry hills centre would be integrated with the community and provide resources for everyone not just students.

The library has facilities and areas that arts groups and festivals can utilise to organise events that make Newcastle an exciting place to live.

It’s a place for everyone.

Presentation main.pdf - Adobe Acrobat Pro

The Library site would be the existing site, and be built with plans to link into a new Art Gallery using the same architect

We should design the appearance of library to have some consistency in style with university and with a potential new Art Gallery.

Morristown public library New Jersey

My idea also incorporates smaller but equally well designed modular libraries rolled out over all of Newcastle

With the billion dollars we can roll out gold plated Libraries for all of Newcastle, making us an intelligent and connected city

Smaller similar modular libraries for inner city and outer suburbs

Broadmeadows Farmers Markets Upgrade

Findlay farmer’s Market, OHIO

Broadmeadow farmers market is I believe the most popular markets in Newcastle, this has been the most successful place for markets in Newcastle.

If something is successful, support it!

However why does the infrastructure at the markets feel so run down and out-dated?

The markets are retrofitted to existing buildings that were constructed for the Newcastle Show years ago, something which is a once a year event.

The Markets is every weekend, rail hail and shine.

It’s time this place had a facelift.

The markets upgrade is not just a frivolous spend, this is an injection for the local economy.

These markets have already created multiple small business start-ups in Newcastle, people start with their idea at the markets and then expand.

This should be encouraged and even a special fund should be created to help these enterprising and creative marketeers

eq_markets view
Entertainment Quarter, Sydney
Findlay farmer’s Market, OHIO

The markets upgrade is not just a frivolous spend, this is an injection for the local economy.

These markets have already created multiple small business start-ups in Newcastle, people start with their idea at the markets and then expand.

This should be encouraged and even a special fund should be created to help these enterprising and creative marketeers.

Presentation main

Inspirational Green Spaces and Pocket parks

We have lots of parks in Newcastle but I think it is fair to say they are either in suburbs that don’t utilise them or are mainly for sports.

Our inner city could do with more inspirational green spaces or pocket parks.

Pocket parks are the solution to this common “lack-of-green-spaces” problem. Pocket parks, also known as vest-pocket parks or mini-parks, are just a smaller version of a regular park. All that is needed is a vacant lot.

London has over 100 pocket parks, Newcastle could do with just a few!

Presentation main.pdf - Adobe Acrobat Pro

My plan is to do an Audit of our parks in Newcastle and locate potential spaces and vacant lots in the inner city

When the best sites are located we will have a major a roll out of 20 or so well landscaped and designed pocket parks.


What my vision for Newcastle is of that of  well designed city, with more green spaces and for people to learn and meet.

Tim’s Lost Shoe – Article from Urchin Magazine 2005


I wrote this article in 2005 for a small youth arts magazine in Newcastle called Urchin, which was run by group called Octapod.

I attached this design from the magazine, because I also designed the article when I was starting out as a graphic designer. (Yes the image is of me)

Tim’s Lost Shoe.

I am acutely aware of my surroundings today.

I feel unusually creative. Like the 300 metre tsunami that engulfed half of Mexico (or at least what we know as Mexico) 250 million years ago. It has engulfed me and flooded the forests of everyday life without giving even the smallest insect of boredom or triviality a chance.

Sure I lost my shoe, and I really liked those shoes, still it’s only half bad, I can still look at my one remaining shoe and remember the times they were together.

Yesterday I was dehydrated and wandering amongst the bright sand dunes of Stockton beach, following the small mammal tracks that seem to just stop, without explanation.

There was a point where after a few hours, the whole world I knew disappeared, and I became a speck on the landscape. I became distinctly aware of this when an F/18 hornet screamed overhead. I wondered what my lone figure in the dunes looked like from above, but I suspected the pilot had some tactical objective to complete, and was contemplating the amount of degrees to come in at when bombing a strategic location, only having a mere second to contemplate his position on our earth.

It was at this point that I made a kind of holy ascension above my worldly domain, and looked down on the earth from above. It was like a 3D computer modeler looking down on a landscape he had just created. Panning around from different angles, I became aware of something other than ‘I’. My surroundings and being was more than simply perception and awareness – I felt placed in some kind of computer game, in which I had very little control.

I sat down and began to wonder what freedom meant. I might really know what freedom was if I was locked up as a prisoner of war, or in a small room, for a long period of time. With my normal freedom (freedom of movement and control) starved I might have some unique vision into what freedom actually is.

What is freedom? Those of us who have read even the smallest snippets of philosophy are aware of the idea that freedom is a myth. Philosophers since the 15th century decided that we are merely machines, plopped into this world, with little choice or freedom. On close inspection, this revelation seems somewhat true. Look at our lives – we are prisoners to our body and mind. Some of the things we imagine give us freedom are simply things our bodies and social pressures dictate that we feel. Even love can be seen in purely chemical, social and biological ways.

If love were universal, and not attached to social and biological needs, then why not love sand, or telephone poles, or even other species with the same passion and determination that humans place on their counterparts.

Was I free, here, wandering around without any real objective? I still had worldly issues to worry about. I was thirsty because the heat and sand gave my tongue this coarse feeling, distinctly reminding me of an old Abbott and Costello movie, where they had joined the foreign legion and got lost in the dunes of Sudan. It always made me want to drink gallons of water.

Also, I was aware that I was 800 metres or so from my car – my ticket back to civilization. It’s like that when you go camping or on holidays, and you need some firm root back to the real world. Some safety blanket that grounds you there, in ‘civilisation’, where things move along quite nicely, waiting patiently for you to return to pay its bills, taxes and fines, to read its papers, and generally feel warm and fuzzy in front of your computer or television, in the quiet safety of your house.

Walking back, I looked at the city of Newcastle. I shut my eyes just so the world became a blur, and imagined what it looked like before settlement. But it was hopeless. The landscape has changed so much that it’s hard to get any real picture. I had the faintest image from viewing a few paintings by convict and artist, Joseph Lycett. They reminded me of the scrub a little bit up the coast that nobody really notices or cares about.

Australia before Europeans must have been such a quiet, unified place – the land whole, even pure. With what feels like an almost abstract life force of its own, the Aboriginals respected this. These dunes were like this 1000 years ago. This gave me some pause for thought, because I had no real need to squint my eyes. This is how they looked for so long. However, I was acutely aware of the 4wd tracks and scattered beer bottles and assorted little heaps of trash every couple of metres, which where actually quite fascinating. They were a record of people’s days at the beach, and camping trips. There in the sand for all time. Were they any different to the Aboriginal shell middens just a few hundred metres away?

The dunes were talking to me. But the safety of civilisation was calling, and as I slowly returned, my shoe fell from my bag. Soon to be engulfed by the slow moving sands.

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