Newcastle: A skate culture beyond extraordinary.


Newcastle is becoming a magnet for skateboarding with many places to skate in the streets and parks, combined with numerous local skate companies. This transformation is being archived through skate films captured in iconic spots, including Museum Park and the pond near Customs House Hotel, showing how skaters are modifying the urban landscape, and coming together to build a stronger skate community.


But because Newcastle’s urban landscape is known for its rough terrain, hills, and many skate stoppers, which prevent skaters from performing tricks using benches, and handrails, in public spaces, skaters are constantly changing the urban landscape to make it skateable, using various techniques, including BondCrete to fill gaps, wax for smoothing surfaces, builders bog to fix cracks, and trimming hedges in the way.


Skate proofers on a ledge in King Street, Newcastle.


Museum Park is one example of this where skaters have used crowbars and the trucks off their skateboards to remove skate proofers from the ledges, allowing them to grind and perform several other tricks, making it one of the city’s most iconic skate spots, attracting noted skaters like Rowan Davis and Adam Tabone.


Museum Park



A ledge at Museum park, with the skate proofers removed.


“It’s popular because it is a shared space,” Adam said. “The police can’t kick us out, so we can skate and not worry about fines or chases.”


Newcastle skaters in Museum Park.


The spot is next to a set of residential apartments and is known for its greenery, art, and rounded ledges with steel additions. It provides a smooth surface, and the curb in the laneway is also waxed, allowing skaters to perform slappy grinds, a trick where skaters ride along ledges and rails without jumping onto them.


An artwork on display in Museum Park.


“Skaters made that spot skateable, not the council, but I’m sure they’ll take credit,” Adam said jokingly.






Patrick Burgess is a project manager and engineer in Newcastle who has been skating for nearly 25 years and managed to get the metal put in on the ledges in Museum Park for skaters to grind.


The metal that Patrick Burgess got placed on the ledge in Museum Park.


“It was a way to encourage more people to skate there, and provide something different,” Patrick said. “The rest of the ledges are made from concrete.”


The spot is being archived through skate films and photographs, including Rowan Davis and his Civic Central clip for Girl skateboards, filmed by Adam using a VX1000 camera.


“It creates a fisheye effect, making the image appear much wider,” Adam said. “It captures skateboarding in the best way.”



Rowan Davis in “Civic Central”  – Girl Skateboards. Uploaded by Crailtap on 27 April 2021.


The film uses the “below the knees” method, allowing viewers to closely examine everything below the knees, particularly the ground surface.


Adam holding his VX1000 video camera.


Duncan McDuie-Ra performing a grind in the streets. Photo by James Turvey.


Duncan McDuie-Ra is a skater and Professor of Urban Sociology at The University of Newcastle, who says that “unlike cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, Newcastle has a centralising quality”. Meaning skate spots are less spread out, making it easier for skaters to come together and share knowledge of the built environment.


Younger skaters gathered in Museum Park.


“The social world of skating is much tighter,” Duncan said. “I grew up skating in the 1990s, at Martin Place in Sydney, but wouldn’t know anyone there.”


He goes with his daughter to skate at Museum Park, saying that “the ledges have a progression of heights, meaning it caters to skaters of all different abilities”.


The adjacent residential building recently blocked off the stairs in Museum Park using concrete bollards. Still, skaters have since managed to ollie over them, a trick that involves jumping into the air with the board and not using your hands.


The concrete bollards are blocking the stairs off in Museum park.


“It shows how skaters are constantly looking for ways to adapt to what’s around them, in the built environment,” Duncan said.


His research has investigated skatestoppers in countries like China and Russia. Where a security guard or a caretaker will monitor public spaces.



Newcastle is also known for its many local skate companies, including Bookshop Skateboards, co-founded by skaters Adam Tabone, James Turvey, and videographer Brandon Caldwell.


“It was a way to put our knowledge over the years into something new,” Adam said. “We want to make skating more prominent in Newcastle.”


Adam and his partner Laura opened the LAATE skate shop on Hunter St in 2019, where they supply several skateboard decks that feature different artwork.


The graphic art on the skateboard decks is key to recognising Bookshop skateboards.


A collection of bookshop skateboard decks, on display at the LAATE store.


“We could do so much with the imagery of books,” Adam said.


James often admired the artwork on skate decks when he was younger, saying that “it reminded me of the comic books I was reading at the time”.


Adam holding his Bookshop skateboard


The company sponsors many local skaters, including Connor Reeve, Justin Poutney and Sam Fairweather.


“It’s gotten me keener to skate,” Sam said. “The graphics are sick, and it’s printed on good wood.”


Sam Fairweather skating down a ledge. Photo by Jake Dempsey.


Growing up on the Central Coast, Sam enjoys skating in and around the pond near Customs House Hotel, where he landed a front 360, a trick where your body and board do a 360-degree spin while travelling forward through the air.


“I was going through a rough patch at the time and managed to land it, which was a relief,” Sam said. “In Newcastle, the grounds are normally terrible, and there’s always something wrong with the spot, which makes it better in my opinion.”


Grace Bolton has been skating for a year now and enjoys the pond as well.


“It’s the best spot for all levels of skaters, and it’s super accessible,” Grace said.


The rise of social media platforms like Instagram has provided more exposure for skaters, making it a more acceptable activity.


“When I was 12, I wanted to start skating, so I would wake up at six in the morning with one of my friends,” Grace said.


“Because we didn’t want anyone to see us.”


She recently purchased two boards from LAATE and said that “learning new tricks is one of the most rewarding aspects of skating”.


Grace performing a boardslide grind while skating at the pond. Filmed by Molly Brookman.


The city offers different shaped rails and urban objects, allowing skaters to progress and aim for something more challenging.


“You could walk past the same stairs for ten years,” Adam said. “You may only find them skateable once you learn certain tricks or skate similar spots.”


The city also offers many skate parks for bowl skating, including Bar Beach and Charlestown. Bowl skating originated in backyard swimming pools and has become a way for skaters to perform aerial manoeuvres.


Marley Rae is one of Newcastle’s most celebrated bowl skaters, who has won several awards, including 2nd place at the Bowlzilla Gold Coast open earlier this year.


Marley Rae at Charlestown skate park. Photo by Jeremy Rowling.


Skate bowls feature many curves and hips for skaters and have metal coping for performing grinds. The Empire skate park at Bar Beach has an 11-foot skate bowl that requires skaters to wear padding on the elbows and knees for protection.


Marley Rae performing an aerial manoeuvre. Photo by Eric Chen.


“Bowl and street skating complement each other,” Marley said. “You can take tricks you’ve learnt and apply them to either.”


While some enjoy this type of skating offered in Newcastle others prefer the street.


“Street skating is so much more versatile and relatable; I can walk out my door and get straight into it,” Adam said. “No pads, and no driving to skate parks.”


Skaters gathered in Museum Park for the premiere of a new skate film.