Welcome to a parallel universe. The surprising end result of an engaging three hour train ride from Sydney up through New South Wales taking in the edge of the Blue Mountain range and scenic lakeside towns like, insert your own tired England manager joke here, Woy Woy (Hello Eats!).
On leaving the station, I catch glimpse of a bus destined for Wallsend. The second thing to notice is the massive dockyards that have made this town’s name. Across the bay is Stockton.The chaps here, to a man, are shirtless. Even the hostel receptionist looks like Olivia Colman….
The comparisons are as far fetched as they are spookily redolent.

Welcome to Newcastle. Infamous as the place where they took the really troublesome convicts.

It’s that time of the week already and, assuming the locals love for a pie is on the scale of this place’s English namesake I head for the nearest bait cabin (Hello Stevie lad!) for a spot of lunch. I head to the Queen’s Wharf and the home of the only licensed franchise of where I spent yesterday around this time, Harry’s Cafe De Wheels.

A legendary venue for the pie connoisseur, its original base in Woolloomoo Dockyard has been in service since 1945, when local entrepreneur Harry ‘Tiger’ Edwards, bemused by the lack of quality after-pub eaterie in his home town, decided to set up a caravan specialising, more or less, in pies for the esurient and inebriated.
The great, the good and the far too many self-serving types from reality TV shows have eaten there. Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Allan Border and P.C. George Garfield from The Bill are some of the many celebrities whose cheerful Troth-Cam images adorn the shiny aluminium walls of the iconic pie shack. As its legend has grown, so has its menu. Pasties, sausage rolls and hotdogs, not to mention other flavours of pie are all available these days.
Tradition dictated I left the pie till Friday, so yesterday I had the pastie. It was good. The pie today was better.
In keeping with the hulking pie tower of a fortnight ago, clearly the standard way to serve the dish here, I signed up for the original flavour in all its Aussie surroundings. No kidney, no cheese, no onions.
Just beef.

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The cutlery was as ineffective as the ones issued a fortnight ago as the crust stood firm, as tough as Steve Waugh. The potato, meanwhile, was more synthetic than Shane Warne in his current state. The peas were in the same vein, though gloriously and voluminously mushy.
The beef itself was good enough, but, frankly, Harry, there wasn’t enough of it. The gravy was saltier than Bernard Manning’s joke book although a delightful touch of pepper did just enough to rescue the flavour.

Yeah, it was good alright, but legendary? I wondered if it would have tasted better in Sydney rather than my current location.
Overlooking the bay, reflecting on the latest instalment of my pie odyssey, a drunken, broke man rambled idiotically on in a strange accent, rudely interrupting my pie-based musings.

Newcastle. The comparisons really are as far fetched as they are spookily redolent.

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