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“An eventful two decades”: Newcastle captured in new book


A little girl catching raindrops in King Street, the Pasha Bulker, COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement are moments in history that have been captured by a new book.

Newcastle duo Greg and Sylvia Ray launched Newcastle by itself this month after curating the collection of photos for most of the year.

Greg says the book depicts Newcastle and the Hunter Region’s growth over the last 20 years.

“So, the idea was to tell the story of change in Newcastle and surrounds,” he says.

“Even I wasn’t aware of a lot of the changes until I started curating the book – it’s been such an eventful two decades.”

Greg and Sylvia Ray with their new book.

Some of the noticeable changes include the demolition of Queens Wharf Tower, the installation of the light rail, and the conversion of the Roundhouse into a motel.

The pair are hopeful the book will help preserve some of the region’s history; Sylvia often wonders how digital images will survive in the future because they have no physical negative as a backup.

“The book is a way of preserving photos from a period of time in Newcastle,” Greg says.

Earlier this year, the pair called on the community to submit photos to be featured.

The result of this call out was over 50 contributors being showcased within the 192-page book.

Each photograph presents its own glimpse of the people and places of Newcastle.

“We’ve included photos of the Pasha Bulker and the recent bushfires, right down to the Black Lives Matter movement and COVID-19,” Greg says.

“It was an all-year job; it was pretty challenging.

“Trying to curate a collection that covers everything was tough.

“But it was really great to put it together because we got to see the changes plus a lot of really quirky, out of left field stuff, like a little girl catching raindrops in King Street.”

Lightning at Les Darcy’s grave. Photo: Pete Smith

Greg believes the book will appeal to a large array of people.

“The good thing about it is that it appeals to a broader demographic – some of our past books have appealed to an older audience but this one appeals to all,” he says.

“Young people can go: ‘Oh, this is my time.'”

Newcastle by itself is available to purchase online and at several stockists across the region, including news agencies at Charlestown Square, Green Hills, Jesmond, Dungog, Blackbutt, Wickham and Stockton.

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