HUNTERhunter Co-Founder & Director

This International Women’s Day, we’ve been working on something a little different, allowing our readers to get to know the women behind HUNTERhunter.

We thought what better way to do it than to get our team to SPILL. That’s right, we’re taking you behind the scenes with each of the HUNTERhunter team members to find out where they eat, what playlist they’re listening to, where they take our out-of-town friends, and ultimately, what makes them tick.

Keeping with the spirit of International Women’s Day, and as an all-female team, we’ve sprinkled in a few questions to understand what March 8 means for HUNTERhunter.

So, without further ado, get to know the faces behind Newcastle’s favourite online lifestyle publication starting with Alissa McCulloch, Co-founder and Director of HUNTERhunter.

Kicking off HUNTERhunter back in 2013 alongside business partner Fiona Gray, Alissa is the brains behind HUNTERhunter (and the glue that keeps it all together). A born content creator, Alissa is all about storytelling and connecting people to new experiences.

Let’s kick things off – what does International Women’s Day mean to you?

Having a day that is dedicated to focusing on the issues women face I think is so important. IWD is getting bigger each year, and it’s great to see so many fantastic events happening again in 2024, not just on the day but in the week leading up. 

I really like how IWD brings women together to share their stories and experiences which helps to highlight the progress that’s been made, but equally as important, continues to bring attention to issues we’ve not made ground on. 

How do you feel about working with an all-female team?

I just love the Hh team, and it’s so important when you have a small team that you work well together and are supportive of one another. It wasn’t however, my intention to have an all-women team, the approach has always been to hire the most suitable person for the role, I actually think diversity in the workplace is important, and as our team grows, having a more diverse team is really important to me.

Where are you from?  

I was born in Newcastle Hospital and grew up in Merewether. Mum and Dad bought their land for £1,500 back in the 60’s when no one wanted to live in Merewether.

Do you consider yourself more of an early bird or a night owl?

100% early birder.

What’s your morning ritual?

Exercise of some sort, it doesn’t always happen, but I have good intentions. That and having breakfast – I am always starving when I wake up in the morning.

Where’s your late-night hangout spot?

I don’t have a regular late-night hangout, I like to mix it up and try new venues. I live close to Beaumont Street so I tend to spend a fair bit of time there. Cafe Limoo is still one of my favourites, I also love Thai food so Bangkok Nights and The Grain are regular stops, and when I have a pizza craving it’s Sapori, their cannoli is also pretty amazing. 

What’s your coffee order?

My coffee order is a chai latte on almond.

Speaking of coffee, which local venue knows your order by heart?

Lords in Hamilton.

Tell me about your favourite HH moment…

Launching Hh was a pretty big deal. Fiona and I started throwing the idea of a website like Hh around in 2012 and we launched in October 2013. We were both working full-time, so it was an after-hours, weekend project to begin with. It's crazy to think 10 years have passed, a lot of content has been covered, and the city has changed so much in that time. 

Turning ten should have also been a big deal, but very sadly Fiona lost her battle to cancer in June last year. Fi was first diagnosed in 2017 and she fought it like a champion for six years, but it eventually got the better of her. Fi was such a big part of the business, and HUNTERhunter would never have happened without her, so celebrating that milestone didn’t quite feel right.

In your spare time, what are your THREE top favourite things to do in Newcastle?

- I love swimming at the beach and ocean baths, so happy to see Newcastle Ocean Baths open again.
- Mountain biking is something I’ve just started getting into, Glenrock is just up the road and its tracks are great for a learner like me. 
- Dining out. Newcastle has so many great restaurants these days, it’s nice to have so much choice, Vecina in Wickham is one of my faves at the moment.

If you wanted to dazzle your out-of-town friends and family, where would you take them?

Depends on the out-of-towner, but it’s usually a combination of taking them to the Bogey Hole, Newcastle Baths, a walk along the Anzac Bridge and breakfast in Darby Street. Drinks at The Beach Hotel are usually slotted in somewhere, it’s either there or at Queens Wharf Hotel to watch the ships come in.

Beer? Wine? Cocktail? Mocktail? What is your tipple of choice and where do you frequently visit?

I’ve always been a beer drinker, and on the regular, I keep it pretty local to home, The Greenroof, and Adamstown Bowling Club. I also really like Method Brewing in Islington. 

On the daily, what’s guaranteed to make you smile?

My two boys, Frankie and Rocco, do it for me most of the time, along with my dog Mumford.

What do you NEVER leave the house without?

My phone (sadly), and the above two humans are usually following in tow.

Tell me THREE of your favourite local businesses that you live and breathe by and why you couldn’t live without them…

- Ramen is one of my favourite things to eat so Susuru and Hokkaiya on Beaumont Street are regular stops for me.

- I also love kebabs, whether it’s lunch or a hangover cure, the Oasis in Beaumont Street has always been my go-to.

- The convenience store in Hassell St Hamilton South. I drop in there at least four to five times per week, and I like that Steph the owner is always up for a foodie chat.

What about local businesses run by women? Are there any that you want to shout out?

There are a lot, it’s hard to single one or two. So many of the businesses we’ve featured on HUNTERhunter over the years are led or co-owned by women, and it’s one of the things I enjoy most about my job, getting the opportunity to meet these women and hear their stories.

What about the women in your life who make you who you are?

Again there are quite a few, first on the list is my mum. It wasn’t until I became a parent myself that I realised what a thankless and hard role it is. My sister has also played a big part in my life, always there when I need advice and a laugh. Also, my friends, both the old and the new ones, are always up for a bevvy, a laugh, and a shoulder when needed. 

What are you reading / watching / listening to now?

I’ve been reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential for about 6 months now, it’s a great book, I’m just really bad at reading. 

I am equally as bad when it comes to listening to podcasts, but when I do I really enjoy listening to Creativity Unpacked, the host Nicole Velik interviews some super interesting people, which helps to get the mind ticking a little. 

If you’re needing a short break away from Newcastle, where do you go and why?

I like variety in my weekend escapes, I love to go camping especially somewhere you can have a fire. But equally so, I love going to Sydney. Manly is one of my favourite places, it has all the things I love - great restaurants, bars, delis (I fell in love with Norma’s on my last visit), and when the weather’s good, swimming from Shelly Beach to Manly is one of the best things you can do, the underwater show is amazing. 

What would you like to see more of in Newcastle?

I can’t wait to see the Newcastle Mall come back to life, I can see the long-term vision, and it’s slowly coming together, and to one day be able to walk down the mall and see it buzzing with shoppers, workers, and tourists will be a good day.