Hunter people living and travelling abroad tell their stories

With over 500,000 of us in the Newcastle and Hunter area, it's no wonder locals can be found in every corner of the world.

Whether relaxing on holiday, being flown around the world for work or education, or making a completely new life in a foreign country, we are everywhere.

As a part time expat myself, I understand the appeal and necessity of travel firsthand.

Skyping home on Christmas, chatting with friends on Facebook and seeing photos of acquaintances on familiar beaches, my contact with, and homesickness for Newcastle is front and center most days.

But even more so on significant days. Christmas, Easter, even the Melbourne Cup.

It can be easy to feel like I'm alone out here in the world.

As though everyone else is soaking up the sun on Nobbys Beach, eating hot chips at Scotties, downing a schooner and watching a gig at The Lass.

But it's not like that at all.

At any given moment in time, it's surprising just how many of us Newcastle dwellers are abroad.

One Tuesday, while many of those lucky enough to call Newcastle home sit back and enjoy the Melbourne Cup, plenty of others are spending the day somewhere completely different.

A different climate, a different timezone, a different country.

LILY RAY – SWEDEN

Here's me, Lily Ray, 25, from Garden Suburb in Newcastle, now living in Gothenburg, Sweden, with my Swedish husband, Felix.

A freelance journalist, photographer, blogger, musician and temporary car finance administration assistant, I moved here six months ago to work on my Swedish citizenship and spend time with the other half of our international family.

WORLD: Lily Ray, Gothenburg, Sweden, with mushrooms picked in the forest.

WORLD: Lily Ray, Gothenburg, Sweden, with mushrooms picked in the forest.

Tuesday for me was waking up at 6am before the sun had risen, cycling half an hour to work on semi-frozen roads, sorting the mail at work where I will stay until 4:42pm when the sun has already set, cycling home again and sitting down to some knitting and Netflix.

IZ & AMANDA CONNELL – THAILAND

Iz and Amanda Connell, 24 and 52 from New Lambton, are mother and daughter travelling together in Thailand on a well-earned holiday. Iz is a social work student, LGBTI and disability rights activist who enjoys parties, learning new things and playing with her dog, Harvey (who is at home with dad, Terry). Amanda works in pathology and, during their trip in Thailand has enjoyed the street food and tried durian for the first time.

On Tuesday they visited the ancient city of Ayutthaya, followed by a trip to gay bar DJ Station in Silom for Iz.

KELSEY SMITH – ENGLAND

Currently living in London, England with boyfriend, Robin, Kelsey Smith is a 25-year-old contemporary dancer from New Lambton in Newcastle.

The move to London was an exercise in broadening her travel experiences and to explore the difference in contemporary dance scenes in Sydney and London.

Kelsey is the operations manager at The Vault, a hidden cocktail bar under London's oldest whisky specialist: Milroy's of Soho.

Tuesday was another normal day in the life for Kelsey with a ballet class in the morning, home for lunch with Robin and then a cycle to work together.

TEYA DUNCAN – USA

Teya Duncan, 21 as of Saturday, grew up in Valentine and lived for awhile in Hamilton South before moving to Los Angeles in May to do a summer conservatory at the Stella Adler Art of Acting Studio.

She was offered a two year professional conservatory and decided to stay on in her new American life to do the training.

WORLD: Teya Duncan, LA, USA

WORLD: Teya Duncan, LA, USA

She is also a comedian who loves performing standup, doing improvisation and writing. She practices yoga and loves to hike.

On Tuesday, Teya was hitting the gym, auditioning for Wicked (the musical), rehearsing a scene from 80s feminist play Top Girls for a scene study class, all before attending class from 7pm to 11pm.

JAYNE MCCARTNEY – USA

Jayne McCartney, 48, from Waratah works as Communications Officer at the University of Newcastle.

She is currently visiting the USA on a Professional Staff International Development scholarship she won.

Jayne has been in Boston for a conference about social media in higher education, visiting MIT, Harvard, Emerson College and UMass while she was there.

The experience has made her her even more proud of the University of Newcastle, which she said is on par with the best universities she has visited on her trip.

At home she loves to cycle, train and visit all of Newcastle's bars and cafes.

On Tuesday she was travelling to New York with her best friend where she will continue to visit universities.

WORLD: Jayne McCartney, Boston, USA

WORLD: Jayne McCartney, Boston, USA

CALE FLETCHER – FRANCE

Cale Fletcher, 25, is a med student from Medowie, currently working in Paris as a dancer at the Moulin Rouge.

He began his 12-month contract in April this year.

Cale loves the breathtaking aesthetics of Paris, the abundance of gourmet pastries and even the chilly weather.

His Tuesday began with a visit to the bank, and continued with the somewhat more Parisian exploit of reading a book and drinking a café au lait at his local coffee shop.

WORLD: Cale Fletcher, Paris, France, in costume as Moulin Rouge dancer

WORLD: Cale Fletcher, Paris, France, in costume as Moulin Rouge dancer

Next was a trip to the gym and then work at the famous Moulin Rouge for the 9pm show.

WAYNE MULLEN – GERMANY

Wayne Mullen, 47, has been a part time Novocastrian for a decade.

An archaeologist by training, he has worked in the tertiary education sector for many years and runs his own business.

He is currently visiting Berlin, Germany and contemplating the timeless realities of existence, such as eating gingerbread, marzipan and sausages washed down with beer.

Wayne's Tuesday was somber, with visits to the Jewish Museum and Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church: both reminders of the troubled past of the now very civilized city.

The afternoon was spent looking (fruitlessly) for Christmas gifts without marzipan, and celebrating failure in the Currywurst (curry sausage) museum... and another beer.

SAMUEL SALTOON – TANZANIA

Sydney born student living in Newcastle West, Samuel Saltoon, 23, studies Medicine, his life's ambition since preschool.

Samuel loves Newcastle Wests coffee shops, cute antiques and brilliant vibe.

As part of a two month elective subject for his degree, he was given the choice to work anywhere in the world and research a topic.

This took Samuel to Mnazi Mmoja Hospital in Stone Town, Tanzania where he is researching and comparing the diagnosis and management of pediatric HIV\AIDS in those countries.

Tuesday was spent in the emergency department dealing with malaria, epilepsy, malignant hypertension, trauma and eclampsia.

WORLD: Samuel Saltoon, Stone Town, Tanzania

WORLD: Samuel Saltoon, Stone Town, Tanzania

He walked home, visited the Slave Museum and Old Fort in Zanzibar.

FREYA PINK & RACHAEL DONELLY – ENGLAND

Freya Pink, 23, from Redhead and Rachael Donelly, 22, from Charlestown, have been best friends since school, and moved to the United Kingdom together in 2015.

They were hoping to work some interesting jobs and travel as often as they could.

After living and working in the north of Durham for a year and a half, working in a cafe, travelling, and eventually meeting their now-boyfriends, Rachael and Freya moved to Leeds in February.

Rachael works in Mrs. Artha's , a specialty coffee shop with "the best coffee in Leeds" and Freya works in a health food and natural remedies store just outside the city.

On Tuesday, Rachael visited friends in Durham, and Freya worked all day.

SOPHIE HOLMES – ENGLAND

Sophie Holmes, 23-year-old psychology student from The Junction, is three months into an extended break to visit family in the UK.

After a time travelling around Europe and running out of money, she made her way to North Somerset, England where she has been lending a hand in the family's chocolate school.

Sophie is gearing up to start work as a chalet assistant during a ski season in Val D'lsere, France from next week.

Sophie spent Tuesday in the chocolate workshop making Christmas sweets to sell at markets in the coming weeks.

ALYSSA CLARK & OSCAR GIRGIS-COOK – SCOTLAND

Alyssa Clark from Kilaben Bay and Oscar Girgis-Cook, both 19, from The Junction, have been travelling around Europe and the UK on their post-high school gap year.

Currently in Glasgow, Scotland after visiting 19 countries so far on their trip.

Both born and bred Novocastrians, the pair decided to jet over to Europe to tick some things off their bucket list, including working overseas, and taking part in Oktoberfest.

With two more months of European winter ahead of them before heading home in January, Alyssa and Oscar are making the most of the time they have left.

On Tuesday they explored Loch Lomond in the Scottish highlands.

CALEB DURBIN – USA

Caleb Durbin is 20 from Belmont, currently a professional ballet dancer for the Houston Ballet in Texas.

He trained in ballet since age seven, and was offered a position in Houston after competing in the Prix de Lausanne in Switzerland.

On Tuesday he worked 10am to 7pm, rehearsing for an upcoming gala and and The Nutcracker which the company performs every year, for the whole month of December.

After work, Caleb attended a cocktail party hosted by one of the Houston Ballet's donors, followed by a hot drink and a wind down with at his favourite late night coffee shop before heading home.

OLIVIA DILLON – USA

Olivia Dillon is a 20-year-old from Waratah studying nursing on a scholarship in Ohio, the United States.  

She spends her spare time training and competing on the swim and dive team at Ohio University.

Tuesday is the busiest day in Olivia's week, and began at 5.30am with weights training, followed by various classes, treatment for athletic injuries, another training session, a quick dinner, and more class until 8pm.

Olivia Dillon, Ohio, USA, pictured during a dive event

Olivia Dillon, Ohio, USA, pictured during a dive event

It's not surprising Olivia says she tries to go to bed early on Tuesday nights.

WHERE ARE YOU?

Are you a Hunter local currently travelling or living abroad? We want to hear your story. Send your details and a photograph to jessica.brown@fairfaxmedia.com.au to be included in the Wish you were here project.

READER STORIES

Amy McGuinness

My name is Amy and I’ve been living and working in Chicago, USA since February 2013. I came over on a gap year after uni and then ended up staying when my work sponsored me. This city sucks you in.

It’s absolutely beautiful in the summer with free street festivals every weekend for everything from hot dogs to tacos, free dance lessons and movies in the parks, and an absolutely beautiful lakefront with miles of bike/running tracks. Whilst winter can be absolutely harrowing (the polar vortex a few winters back almost ended my time here), not much compares to watching snow fall on a tree-lined street.

AMY: Skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park Downtown. Chicago definitely knows how to do parks, museums and free outdoor entertainment.

AMY: Skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park Downtown. Chicago definitely knows how to do parks, museums and free outdoor entertainment.

There’s also a Polar Plunge fundraiser every year, where thousands of crazy people (myself included) run into a frozen Lake Michigan in costume to raise funds for the Special Olympics. They have to break the ice to make room!

America and Americans are great, but I wouldn’t still be here if not for the surprisingly large Aussie continent in Chicago. We’ve got a netball club full of Aussie, Kiwi, UK and South African expats, as well as an Aussie Rules club that competes in the USAFL (I play both!). We have Australia Day parties hosted by the footy club, ANZAC Day ceremonies hosted by the Australian and New Zealand consulates down by the river at the Vietnam Veterans memorial, and regular get togethers to watch any Aussie sporting event possible. 

I’ve even been lucky enough to travel not only around the US to play footy, but also to Iceland for a tournament with footy clubs from Canada, England, Iceland and Sweden. 

While there are quite a lot of Aussie and Ausmerican (one spouse Aussie, one American) families here permanently, Chicago is predominantly a transient city for Aussies. As much as I love it I too am thinking about moving on shortly. Newcastle will always be home, I definitely miss my family and friends (and the beaches), and if all goes to plan it’ll be where I return, but for the time being there’s a whole world to explore, and I intend to make the most of it.

Brianna Dransfield

My name is Brianna Dransfield and I’ve been living out of a suitcase for the last seven years, working as a tour director on coach tours throughout Europe. I worked for five years with Contiki and two with Insight Vacations, taking tours through 30 different countries.

I love my job and it’s a great privilege to be able to share the amazing history and culture of Europe with my guests. My favourite country in Europe would have to be Croatia, but my favourite view in the world is still Bar Beach across to Merewether Beach.

WORLD: Alison Llewellyn visting her daughter Brianna Dransfield in Lisbon in June.

WORLD: Alison Llewellyn visting her daughter Brianna Dransfield in Lisbon in June.

The Sainsbury – Crowe family

We are a family from Kotara South, who have relocated to Wexford in Ireland for a year. My name is Nina Sainsbury. 

Wexford is my husband Paul’s home town and we felt it vital that our kids experience what it is like to live in Ireland, so that they can call it their second home. 

Both kids Cian (3) and Orla (7) attend pre-school and school. Paul works remotely part-time for an engineering consultancy based in Newcastle, while I am studying at the local college.

Our spare time is spent with family and friends, in Wexford. We make a point of discovering something new each weekend with the kids, as small as a park or museum in Ireland and as big as a trip to Italy or Switzerland to really experience the fact that Europe is on our doorstep.

WORLD: Paul Crowe and Nina Sainsbury with kids Orla and Cian hiking in County Waterford.

WORLD: Paul Crowe and Nina Sainsbury with kids Orla and Cian hiking in County Waterford.

Hayden Stranger

I'm Hayden Stranger I'm seven-years-old from Newcastle. I've just had this amazing trip to Iceland with my mum and dad. My dad was working in Germany so we went on an adventure to Iceland and I had the best time ever.

We went into a volcano lava tube and we walked around the bottom of a volcano carter. When we went inside the volcano lava tube they turned the lights off and it was soooo dark and scary.

ICELAND: Hayden Stranger

ICELAND: Hayden Stranger

Steve and Jodie Pegrem

We came to the United States to elope, we got married in Vegas on October 28 and are traveling through the states for 4.5 weeks all up.

LOVE: Steve and Jodie on their wedding day

LOVE: Steve and Jodie on their wedding day

After Vegas we flew to Memphis, then drove to New Orleans via Nashville, flew to Washington DC and today we are catching a train to New York for 10 nights before heading to San Fransisco and then home at the end of November.

Jodie is 40, studying aged care and I’m from Cardiff and Steve is 49, a bus driver from Swansea.

Adam Miller and Holly Clayton

Well-known Novocastrian solo guitarist Adam Miller is currently touring the USA and Canada performing at the Woodstock festival and performing with Charlie Hunter. Married to the also talented Newcastle singer Holly Clayton and founder of the band Holly Who.

WORLD: Adam Miller and Holly Clayton are currently touring in the USA

WORLD: Adam Miller and Holly Clayton are currently touring in the USA

Daniel Gardner

My name is Daniel Gardner and I am 46 years old from Newcastle. I moved to Long Island City in New York in January this year to be with my girlfriend, after spending the last 17 years living across the road from Merewether Beach.

My partner is also from Australia. I am in the process of starting a travel blog website so the research and photography keep me very busy. 

My Partner and I married in March this year in New York. We have just moved to Geneva Switzerland a few weeks ago which is a huge change from Manhattan, the city that never sleeps.

We did a bit of travelling around the USA, while we were living in New York, and we are hoping to do the same here in Europe. I often think about things I may be missing out on like Melbourne Cup, but what I miss more than any event, is the Australian products, like Kraft Peanut butter, Kettle lime and cracked pepper chips, and Cadbury Milk Chocolate to name a few. 

WORLD: Daniel Gardner has been living in Manhattan, but has just moved to Geneva Switzerland

WORLD: Daniel Gardner has been living in Manhattan, but has just moved to Geneva Switzerland

This story Wish you were here! first appeared on Newcastle Herald.