The Mercury’s newest journo Lachie Leeming arrived in our office on Monday morning and took a stroll down High Street to get a feel for the place. He was instantly impressed. It seems we sometimes forget just how good we have it in the old river town. We asked him for his first impressions.
“How good’s Maitland?”
It was more of a statement than a question that I posed to the Maitland Mercury newsroom after my first lunch break on my first day of work.
“Maitland? Why? Are you sure?” my co-workers quizzed.
I was more than happy to tell them.
After a couple of years working at newspapers on the state’s Mid North Coast, mostly at Taree and Kempsey, I feel like I’ve developed an appreciation for the nuances of country towns.
And Maitland is a beauty.
You don’t have to go far from the Mercury’s Elgin Street headquarters to get an idea of what the town is about.
The place drips with history.
There’s something noble about a town holding on to its roots in the form of its century old buildings, repurposed for modern use but still retaining their yesteryear charm.
The history of the town extends far beyond the buildings lining its streets – and it’s great to see the stories of nationally revered athletes like Les Darcy recognised around the town.
In terms of business, Maitland’s CBD at a glance looks great.
The shopfronts along High Street are varied, lively and inviting.
It’s busy and bustling, but not overbearing.
And few papers get to cover such a strong sporting region as the Mercury does.
I’m already aware that Coalfields rugby league has produced many a footballing star and continues to do so, while the success of the various other sporting codes ensures there is something for every sports lover.
Even Maitland’s position as the hub of the Hunter make it a special spot.
The Mercury itself is a reflection of the people it gets to document, ranging from Maitland’s inner city to the rural roots that helped form and continue to shape the lower Hunter.
The range of people that the Mercury has the opportunity to work with stretches from Maitland’s trendy inner city to rural properties.
There’s plenty of stories to tell – and a lot to like, at first sight.