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.
Tucked away at the Northern end of Newcastle's popular Bar Beach, Susan Gilmore beach is a gorgeous little stretch of sand perfect for a picnic or a quiet swim.
The beach was named after the American "clipper", or sailing ship, "Susan Gilmore" that was shipwrecked on its shores in July of 1884. The only objects to be spotted on the shoreline these days, however, are the occasional playful pooch chasing a frisbee, fitness fanatics dodging incoming waves on an afternoon jog and sun-seeking swimmers or sun-bakers taking advantage of the beach's free private tanning facilities.
Accessed at low-tide by rounding the cliff face (or, for those in-the-know, through a gap in the fence in the top car park), the beach is a more secluded place to get a fix of sun, sand and surf. Rarely crowded, this is a place where you may find yourself alone in the early morning or late afternoon light, looking up at the towering cliffs surrounding the beach and feeling like you may have travelled back to prehistoric times.
This writer was there on Valentine's Day and it would be hard to think of a lovelier place for a picnic. As the sun went down and the other couple at the opposite end of the beach released a paper lantern, lights glistened on the horizon from one of Newcastle's iconic coal freighters. Susan Gilmore Beach was perfect.
I used to surf at Susan Gilmore beach regularly 30yrs ago. I went back there yesterday (over the fence and down the old track). A few things had changed.....first, the wooden stairway that was once the final decent to the sand was gone, and second I recall a huge rock was gone. It was a rock that must have weighed several tonne and had a flat face facing the sea. On that flat face was a carving of a large spiral possibly a metre in diameter. The rock used to be about about 50m from the old stairway, back toward Bar Beach and back toward the cliff face, and not in the water. I could not see the rock or even evidence that it had been rolled over by storm waves. I guess its somewhere unless its adorning someones landscaping. Does anyone recall this?
This beach is not a safe place for swimming. It was closed for decades because it's so dangerous and it is usually deserted nowadays for the same reason. It is 100 metres of sand bounded by rocky outcrops at either end, and there are strong rips running across the whole area. It is clearly designated by Council signage as a non-swimming beach. Just don't even think about it when there's a surf lifesaving patrolled beach only 200 metres south.