HUNTERhunter Editor – Hunter Valley & Port Stephens

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 their 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. Meet Amy Focic, Editor of HUNTERhunter – Hunter Valley and Port Stephens.

Joining the team in March 2023, it’s been bang-on 12 months of having Amy bring our Hunter Valley and Port Stephens content to life. With an eye for detail and a passion for creative storytelling, Amy keeps HUNTERhunter’s content thriving behind the scenes. She’s also the sole office Beyoncé fan (which bewilders her every day) and a pasta gremlin.

spill international womens day 2024 amy focic newcastle nsw
HUNTERhunter Editor [Hunter Valley & Port Stephens] – Amy Focic

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

For me, International Women’s Day is a chance to reflect on how I’m practising feminism in my own life. Sure, it’s a great opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements and the women in our own lives, but I always remember that International Women’s Day emerged from the activities of labour movements. 

So, I try to refocus my efforts and my attention is directed towards breaking down barriers and ending discrimination for all women, especially those who don’t have the same privileges I do.

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

It’s such a delight! We get along so well, but I also think we just inherently get each other a little more because we’re all women. We’re all quite different in how we approach our jobs though, which keeps things interesting.

Where are you from?  

I’m a Newcastle gal through and through – I was born here and grew up in Kotara. I lived in Sydney for a few years for uni, but ultimately I knew I wanted to return to Newcastle!

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

I’m an early bird for sure, though not crack-of-dawn early. 

What’s your morning ritual?

All rituals usually fly out the window on weekdays, when I’m just trying to make it to work with some semblance of organisation. If I can, I make sure I stretch, then eat my breakfast while reading a book. On the weekend, I get up and go for a walk and swim at the beach.

What’s your coffee order?

This might be controversial for a HUNTERhunter employee, but I actually don’t drink coffee (any articles about coffee that have my name on them have been thoroughly vetted by the team, I promise). I’m simply a weakling and coffee doesn’t agree with me, even though I love the taste. It’s a chai – either hot or iced, but none of that frothy sugar milk nonsense please – for me.

Speaking of coffee, which local venues know your order by heart?

Momo Wholefoods or Autumn Rooms make my favourite chai which I’ll always order if I’m out for breakfast or lunch. If I’m near the beach, a chai from The Kiosk at Newcastle Beach while sitting on the steps is a must.

Tell me about your favourite HH moment…

I’m going to cheat because these are moments, plural, but all the times small businesses have let us know that they appreciated what we wrote about them, or that they’ve been busy since we featured them. It’s super rewarding and it makes me grateful for all the excellent venues (and people) we have in our city.

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

- Swim at our beautiful beaches or ocean pools. I’ll never get sick of it. Dixon Park Beach is a personal favourite for an ocean dip, and I’ve been one of the many Novocastrians soaking up the reopened Newcastle Ocean Baths this summer. I won’t say no to a walk or run along the Bather’s Way either!

- Grab a takeaway feed or picnic and eat it in a scenic spot. Don’t get me wrong, I live for dining out and experiencing the magic that can only come from eating at a restaurant, but when Newcastle is this pretty, I simply have to take my food and enjoy it with a view – preferably at sunset.

- Shop in Islington. The slew of fantastic shops along the Islington strip of Maitland Road are among the best in Newcastle. My favourites are Yardsale Trading Co, High Swan Dive, The Conscious Exchange, Jack Jack, Honey Street Vintage, Hide + Seeker, and Stoned Saint Moon.

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

A walk along the Bather’s Way really gives you a sense of what there is to love about Newcastle. The views from the top of the Anzac Memorial Walk on a sunny day? Unmatched.

If they were keen for some retail therapy, I’d take them to the Islington stores I mentioned above, as well as The Lair and Abicus, then some of our independent art galleries like The Lock-Up or Playstate on Fern.

There are so many dining establishments to impress in Newcastle. My first port of call for a fancier meal would be Flotilla, Lock’s Paddock, or Light Years Asian Diner. For breakfast or lunch, it’d have to be Equium Social, Momo Wholefood, or Arno Deli, and for somewhere more chill, I’d pick Scottie’s, Ginger Meg’s, or Antojitos.

This might be cheating, but as Hunter Valley editor, it’d be remiss of me not to add in a Hunter Valley favourite, Krinklewood. There’s no place like it in wine country – not only is the wine itself fantastic, but the space is just dreamy.

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

Where to begin? I’m pretty easy to please drinks-wise, but I’m a sucker for natural wines, a chilled red, a dry rosé, and gin.

I am very partial to Earp Distilling Co’s Just Juniper and Portside gins with a good tonic and drinking them at the source – AKA Earp’s distillery in Carrington – is even better.

My go-tos in Newcastle for interesting wine lists are Bar Mellow and HUMBUG, and I love a cocktail at Granddad’s Bar or Ginger Meg’s.

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

Mumford, the HUNTERhunter office dog, my partner Stu, and dumb videos on the internet.

What do you NEVER leave the house without?

Lip balm, my phone, and my Frank Green water bottle. Am I the embodiment of the female Gen Z stereotype? Yes. Do I love it? Also yes.

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

The Pilates Space makes me like working out – the instructors are top-tier, the classes are challenging but fun, and the space is so nice.

If I’m feeling too lazy to cook, my immediate thought is to get pizza from Masa Madre. It’s my go-to takeaway joint – I’ll never tire of the zucchini pizza with feta crust dipper.

I’ve been a frequent Doughheads customer ever since the days of their tiny store on Hunter Street. I have a massive sweet tooth, and their fluffy, fabulously-topped doughnuts always hit the spot.

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

Kahli Saunders, the founder of Dance For Fun. Kahli has created the most welcoming, wholesome community of dancers from all walks of life. Whether you’ve never danced before or you’ve danced your whole life, Dance For Fun is a safe, fun (it is in the name after all!), and exciting space to go and move each week.

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

I’m very lucky to have two sisters and my mum who I adore. I’ve been told that I’m very similar to my mum, so I guess that means she’s shaped who I am in a pretty substantial way!

My sisters will 100% cringe at me saying this, but I’m so grateful that I have their wit, intelligence, and honesty to humble me and make me laugh.

My grandma Diane is a force to be reckoned with – she’s a chatterbox whose ability to make unlikely friendships, take up new hobbies, and laugh at herself will always inspire me.

I can’t overstate the importance of my girlfriends in my life. They make my life so much better in every way, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

What are you reading / watching / listening to now?

I just finished reading Robbie Arnott’s Rain Heron which was a confronting yet stunning read.

I’ve been listening to lots of Angie McMahon, Raye, The Last Dinner Party, and the Off Menu podcast.

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

Camping somewhere on the Mid-North Coast – I love Crowdy Bay National Park and Treachery near Seal Rocks. The campgrounds are only a short walk from the beach, surrounded by bushland, and usually nice and quiet.

What’s your go-to playlist?

I’m an avid maker of playlists. Some of my favourite creations are this playlist full of noughties bangers that will get you dancing, this one full of music that I listen to when I’m making Mexican food (specific, I know), and this playlist to chuck on when friends come over for dinner.

What would you like to see more of in Newcastle?

Greek and Spanish food! Besides Italian, they’re my favourite cuisines, and we don’t have enough authentic representations of them in the city. Big shout out to The Greek Taverna and Bocados for carrying the team on this front!