Angela is a freelance writer and radio producer living in the heart of Newcastle. She is endeavouring to find and share the best the city has to offer no matter how many delicious restaurants she has to endure.
A mere 35km drive from Newcastle is the charming town of Morpeth, a riverside retreat with a rural feel, perfect for a day trip or a romantic weekend (you've got that anniversary coming up don't you?)
The town was founded in 1821 by Lieutenant Edward Close who built his homestead five years later and developed the town into a river port in the decade that followed. His sprawling Georgian home is still standing in its original position and can be viewed high up on its perch on the hill, overlooking the town like a stately, proud old gentleman. And the spirit of Lt. Close, be he up in that mansion on the mount, has a reason to be proud - although no longer an operating port town, Morpeth is a successful town in every meaning of the phrase and a fantastic, truly enjoyable place to visit.
Lying alongside the Hunter River, Morpeth abounds in charm, from the gorgeous boutique gift shops and restaurants lining its main street, to the verdant riverside that reveals a superb outlook onto green pastures and gorgeous countryside - a prime place for a picnic with a delicious hamburger from the take-away shop.
A popular curio shop and a personal favourite of this writer's is Morpeth Teddy Bears - a one-stop shop for all species of stuffed animals. Not only does the store contain a mind-boggling, eye-straining amount of teddies of the bear variety, the cutesy cottage is also full to the brim with sewed, soft likenesses of almost every creature imaginable. Treat it like a shopping experience and zoo trip in one as you'll be surrounded by pythons, sheep, panthers, bats, cats, penguins and a plethora of Australian icons such as galahs, platypuses, koalas - even crocodiles!
Any trip to Morpeth would also not be complete without a visit to Miss Lily's Lollies - a (you guessed it) lolly shop packed with hard boiled, old fashioned sweets as well as your modern-day sour and chewy things. The store also offers a range of international treats - been craving Pop Tarts since your trip to America? Have no fear, Miss Lily is here!
And of course, the town is also home to the famous Morpeth Sourdough bakery where the Arnott family, who now sell their products in stores all over NSW, have been making bread since the 1860s. Drop in, have a chat and buy a loaf from their massive range of sourdough offerings.
Make sure you don't spend all your time shopping - leave the afternoon to check out some of Morpeth's fantastic historical buildings such as the Former Bond Stores on Swan Street, the Police Station on High and George Streets, and the Former Morpeth Railway Station, all listed on the Register of the National Estate.