Category Archives: Gladstone Maritime Museum

Backyard of Origin

95 Origin Series It’s Origin time! The beer’s chilled, the phone disconnected, and my sacred 1995 Origin jersey, well, apparently one of my daughters ‘borrowed’ it to wear at Sydney Stadium tonight. Hopefully it will be returned in one piece, minus any blood stains or bullet holes.

And before the game, I like to reminisce about the two greatest footballers I ever saw play in the boyhood arena of Backyard Footy.

The first was Vito, the son of Italian immigrants, who we nicknamed ‘Vito Brits’ after our brekkie cereal. At the age of fourteen, Brits stood six feet tall, sported a full beard and was a bit psychopathic about winning. Survivors still recall the day Brits turned a friendly game of dominos into a full contact sport.

Then there was a lad from Burma who was so small he looked like a kindy kid who had strayed into our footy game. His name was too hard to pronounce so we nicknamed him Polly; and he eventually started answering to it.

Now, Polly only ever got tackled once; unfortunately by Brits. As soon as he got out of hospital, we wheeled him straight out to the backyard, plunked a ball under his arm, then undid the lock on Brits’ cage.

Screaming for mercy, Polly raced around the yard sixteen times, pursued by a howling Brits, until eventually Brits gave up and wandered off to head-butt a fence post.

It didn’t take long for Brits, and the worlds’ fastest Burman, to turn our little team into the terror of neighbourhood footy games. And the two of them became as dinky-di as Vegemite™ used to be before the Yanks bought the company.

Eventually Polly moved away to a slightly less violent place (the Middle East), and Brits is sadly no longer with us. But tonight, in a lounge-room in Gladstone, they are fondly remembered by their old backyard teammate who still misses them; and his ’95 Origin jersey.

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Council Election Time In Gladstone!

Citizens of Gladstone!  It’s council election time!  ‘Big Deal,’ you say; well, that’s the response I’ve been getting here at home.

Now, some of you may be wondering, ‘What do councillors actually do?’  So I contacted a few of them and received a variety of answers.  One even bribed me with beer to remain anonymous, so I said, “No worries Clyde, I’ll call you Mr. X., and make it a schooner please.”

Anyway, here’s what our newly elected Councillors’ can look forward to:

You’ll start each morning with ‘The Councillors Prayer’, “Please God, let someone call me today with good news.”  Turning on your mobile phone you’ll see fourteen new messages; none of them contain good news.

Reading the Letters to the Editor during breakfast, you’ll wonder why these geniuses, with all the answers to Gladstone’s problems, didn’t stand for election.

As a councillor, you’ll be given a council department to oversee, eg: Parks, Roads, Airport etc.  Being lumbered with the sewerage portfolio could mean you’ve really upset the Mayor.

Congratulations!  You’ve also automatically become a member of every club, community and special interest group in the region.  Each week you’ll drive round an area roughly the size of Tasmania, attending meetings, AGM’s, working bees, judging things, cutting ribbons, making speeches and eating sandwiches.  And you’d better like sandwiches, because everywhere you go, someone is going to cram fistfuls of them down your throat.

You will also gather the views of your constituents, ie: people who ring at all hours of the day and night, or bail you up in the street, shops, pub, beach or your driveway, and abuse you for things you have no control over.  Armed with this ‘feedback’, you’ll meet with the Mayor, and various council folk, to discuss possible solutions, and make plans for our regions’ future.  At these meetings you will be served sandwiches.

Late at night you’ll return home, brush the egg and lettuce crumbs from your jacket, turn off your phone and hit the sack wondering why God made you want to serve your community.

Folks, we should take an interest in those crazy enough to do this job, because as shareholders in the multi-million dollar enterprise known as ‘The Gladstone Region’, we’re going to be paying their wages for the next four years; fortunately the sandwiches are free!

*Edited bits

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Gladstone Maritime Museum – I’m In!

For those of you who haven’t been able to sleep since I applied for membership, just a quick note to let you know that my application was successful. 

Will keep you posted.



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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


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