As this post goes to air tonight, the members of the Gladstone Maritime Museum will be voting on my membership application. It’s been a long time coming.
Several years ago I waddled down to the museum, and was quietly impressed with what I saw. The shed housing the numerous items collected by a dedicated band of volunteers used to be the building where sailors would gather in the old days, drink heavily and fight like a bag full of cats. I got to see some of the wild side of life as a 15 year old when I was given the green light to work on the tug boats during my work experience stint in high school.
I’d actually put ‘Sailor’ down on my work experience application, hoping they’d let me set off on one of the bauxite ships which run up and down the coast from Gladstone to Weipa, but it was deemed too dangerous by my teacher… clued up lady that one!
My very limited time on the tugboats was fantastic. I met some great blokes, learned to cook scones and pikelets, paint (everything needed painting), tie knots, and loved the shift work lifestyle. Unfortunately to get a job on the tugs you needed to either:
a) to buy the company, or
b) stand in a very, very, very long line, and pray like hell that everyone in front of you meets with some sort of untimely accident that would eliminate them from the running. Sort of like trying to crack a full time job in the coal mines during the 70’s and 80’s… and probably now come to think of it 🙂
On our way down to the tugs we’d pass the ‘sailors pub’, and it was pointed out to me as a place to be avoided at all costs. Rumours abounded about some of the terrible fights and brawls that erupted all too frequently in the place. My wide eyes would glimpse happy, laughing men gathered round tables full of empty glasses as we drove past, and my furtive imagination filled in the blanks…
The pub closed, and years later re-opened as the museum. The blokes running the place are keen on local maritime history, and even keener to share it with anyone who strolls through the doors. It’s one of my top 3 favourite places here in town, and after much procrastinating (years working round the house, and taking the odd trip away) I filled out a form and handed it to one the smiling volunteers.
I don’t know how many applications they get each year, or what sort of activities they’d like me to participate in, but like anything in life, you’ll never never know if you don’t show 🙂