Joining the Gladstone Maritime Museum

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.

HMAS Gladstone - waiting to be placed into it's new home

HMAS Gladstone - waiting to be placed into it's new home

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…

HMAS Gladstone Crest

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 🙂

Wonder how the votings’ going? 
Maritime museum yard

Maritime museum yard


Filed under Gladstone Maritime Museum

3 responses to “Joining the Gladstone Maritime Museum

  1. This blog’s where its happenning. Keep up the good work.

  2. Steve H

    As unfortunate as this may sound GB, this would nearly classify you as a local if voted in. I may have to use my contacts as a “genuine local” to sway/bribe/defer the final count!

    Seriously though, the life of a tug worker was great in days gone past. My father worked for 33 years on the various tugs and companies that ran them. My childhood life was spent on the Golding, Tom Tough, Wistari and Rodds Bay to mention a few following my dad to work at all hours of the day, night and weather….loved it. Like yourself keen to work in this industry and even with contacts, the only way I could get a start was to work on the ships as a cabin boy and work up to a level to transfer accross. Unfortunately this did not appeael to me at the young age of 16 as there were other priorities in life then!

    It is great ot see the local community get together and support this worthy group as we have a vast maratime history in Gladstone.

    All the best of luck my friend!
    Cheers, Steve H

  3. gladbloke

    Hey Steve,

    Yeah, I’ve often thought about trying to get back on the boats as well. I served on the Tom Tough during my stint at high school, and was fortunate enough to be invited back after the work experience finished (my pikelets making skills were in big demand apparently!) They really were a great bunch of blokes down there.

    But, like you I wasn’t keen on being known as ‘Roger, the cabin boy’, (Captain Pugwash) for 9 years, when there were cars to drive and girls to chase 🙂

    Will let you know if and when I make membership status. Will that really make me a local?!

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