15 July 2011

Sea Life 1952. Tynebank leave Brisbane bound Port Kembla

First draft:
In the early afternoon we left our sad, lonesome berth at the Phosphate wharf on the Brisbane River; 2 tugs from the Port lower down the river came up to pulled us off the wharf . Our pilot was aboard and at his command , the tugs pulled us off the wharf and then at a further command the tugs slowly pulled us 180 degrees round to point us down river and towards the open sea. We now picked up speed and soon passed Port Brisbane on our starboard, (right-hand side) and continued into open water. There waiting for us was the pilot boat ready to pick up our pilot.

I used to usually watch over the side as the pilot, quickly shaking the captain's hand turned, and as quickly descended the rope ladder, then pausing at the bottom as the pilot boat, keeping pace with us, slowly nearing the rope ladder, the pilot ready to hop from ladder to boat in a neat, swift  motion. I was not the only one who watched the pilot’s departure, the officer of the watch, standing on the flying bridge would be there, too and usually members of the crew would pause to watch as well. It was a kind of ritual, it seemed to be done, always.

We now headed in a southerly direction. In 3 days or so we should be nearing Port Kembla, 450 nautical miles to steam.

I didn’t send an early ETA warning, with only 3 days sailing time. The Captain would decide when to do that. The message duly came from the Bridge a few hours before our arrival was due.

We picked up our pilot who took through the 2 concrete arms of the harbour and we berthed not far from the Steel Works.  Again we were here for in the vicinity of 12-14 days, while unloaded what was left of the phosphate rock cargo.

Port Kembla was just a small town with one main street, Wentworth St., as far as I remember in 1952. I understand now Port Kembla is engulfed by the nearby city of Wollongong.

I well remember the one main street with the Steelworks Hotel at the top and the men’s toilets across the road on the way back to the wharf. The main street is still there today and so is the Steel Works Pub, and across the road, is that the toilets peeking out through the bushes or is it my imagination, when peering on Google Earth? The road seems much better than the one I remember in 1952.

I also remember the milk bar (now its called a coffee bar) a short way down the main street were we would often drop in, with its big shiny American jukebox which played all the latest tunes when a coin was inserted in the slot and then you pressed your selection(s). If the place was crowded you would probably have to wait for your selection to come up, they came up in selection order.

When we finished unloading we found our next port of call was to be Ocean Island, also like Nauru, almost on the equator.

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