She’s getting on in years and starting to show signs of aging. There’s some wear and tear, a few marks and blemishes, her beam’s a little broad, and her get up and go has got up and left, but she can still turn heads and certainly stands out in a crowd. No, I’m not talking about Long Suffering Wife here, not if I wish to see another sunrise; I am instead referring to another prominent lady in town, HMAS Gladstone.
Gladstone was one of fifteen Fremantle Class Patrol Boats built in the early 80’s as part of our nations’ shore defence. Two of them became TV stars; HMAS Bathurst which featured in the ABC drama, ‘Patrol Boat’, and HMAS Townsville in the Channel 9 series ‘Sea Patrol’. I preferred Patrol Boat, but Sea Patrol has Lisa McCune in it, who, like ‘Gladdy’, has nice lines and is heavily armed.
Of the fifteen boats, only two remain, Townsville and Gladstone. We hit the jackpot when ‘Gladdy’ was handed over to us, and now she is waiting patiently in the marina as preparations are made to plunk her into a permanent display spot near Auckland Inlet. She’ll be the showpiece of the soon to be relocated Maritime Museum, and from her new vantage point she’ll look out over the harbour, her 60 mm Bofors gun covering the channel as a warning to all about just how seriously we take crab pot theft around here.
A number of Maritime Museum volunteers are having a bit of an affair with ‘Gladdy’. She is never far from their thoughts, and they are always keen to clamber aboard her. If you are interested in joining them, to assist with placing ‘Gladdy’ into her new home and restoring her to her former glory, then pop down to the museum and say ‘Ahoy’. Mention my name for a free coffee… and possibly a biscuit.
I gallantly raised my hand for the position of Media Liaison Officer, but was mowed down in the resulting stampede for the job upon announcing that I was going canvass Lisa McCune to come to the grand unveiling. When I eventually got up, I was given a more important role.
So, if and when Lisa turns up, while they’re showing her around ‘Gladdy’, I’ll be somewhere below, scraping the barnacles off her bottom. Lucky me!