News

Born-local reflects on life of wharfs and good looking girls

Norman Wyatt is born and raised in Gladstone. Photo Brenda Strong / The Observer
Norman Wyatt is born and raised in Gladstone. Photo Brenda Strong / The Observer Brenda Strong

In this week's 'Everyone has a story', we meet long-time Gladstone resident Norman Wyatt.

IF YOU were to take a drive through town with Norman Wyatt, chances are he'll point out the three NRG chimneys that overlook the city.

"You see those three chimneys, I cut the steel for those," Norm said.

It's a story his family has heard one too many times, but Norm still tells it with pride.

At 92, Norm is your definitive local.

He was born here, raised his family here and has seen Gladstone grow from "a heap of mudflats" to the prosperous industrial town it is today.

He represents what many people say has been lost in Gladstone - community, passion and hard work topped off with a cracker sense of humour.

When asked what the best thing about Gladstone is, Norm cheekily replies: "All the good-looking girls".

He's quick to correct himself.

"No, Mabs (Colleen) was the best looking girl in town," he said.

"I remember the first time I saw her. She was walking down Goondoon St.

"I was talking to some mates of mine and they told me I had no chance."   

Norman Wyatt is born and raised in Gladstone. Photo Brenda Strong / The Observer
Norman Wyatt is born and raised in Gladstone. Photo Brenda Strong / The Observer Brenda Strong

At first Mabs wasn't interested, but Norm persisted.

"I used to walk with her down the road," he said. "We gradually became friends."

It was the start of a friendship that would last more than 70 years.

Norm and Mabs were married on February 2 in 1942.

"I thought I was god's gift to women," he said. "You could say she brought me back down to earth."

Norm sadly lost Mabs earlier this year.

Her photo is one of many that sits on the coffee table in the house they shared since 1962.

The lounge room is full of photographs, mostly family photos.

Some framed wall medals hang on the wall.

Like many young Australians, Norman was called up to join the army in 1940.

He was away on and off over the next five years.

"They were some of the worst days of my life because it meant I had to leave my wife and my little girl," he said.

"When I came back, it was a bit hard settling in because I'd been with the chaps for so long."

After the war, Norman returned to work on the Gladstone wharf.

His father and grandfather had both been wharfies; you could say it ran in the family.

He worked on the wharf for many years until an accident forced him to try something else.

"I fell down the hold of a ship and hurt my back," he said.

"I got out and worked for ARC Engineering for 12 years, cutting steel and that sort of thing."

But the lure of the wharf was too strong.

Norm returned to the job at 62, working as a casual until he retired at 65.

These days, he spends a lot of time sitting and thinking.

"I like to listen to all the political brawls on the television," he said. 

"Being an old wharfie, you know which side I'd take."

Topics:  everyone has a story gladstone history



Foodies' scavenger hunt: are you up for it?

IF YOU want to give your tastebuds the flavour sensations of a lifetime, here is the ultimate foodie’s scavenger hunt through Brisbane.

5 minutes with Israel Folau on footy, life and love

Israel Folau and Silver Fern netballer Maria Tutaia announced their engagement last last year.

WE CAUGHT up with football star and Brisbane ex-pat Israel Folau.

10 reasons to head to South Bank this summer

Head to the only inner-city beach in Australia!

South Bank has a ridiculous amount of fun things to do.

Five mammoth events you need in your life

No Caption

BRISBANE isn’t known for doing things by halves…

How to make your child's every dream come true...

Take a dip at South Bank in the inner-city beach.

‘I DON’T want to do fun things, Mum and Dad’… said no child ever!

How to do Eat Street the right way

Know where to start and where to end to avoid a huge food coma before you get to experience all the goodies!

EVERY Friday and Saturday night, Hamilton comes alive.

You can do WHAT in Brisbane?!

Talk about arriving in style! Take your pub crawl to the next level with a helicopter!

BET you didn't know you could do these things in Brisbane...

BREAKING: Man, 66, dies, his wife injured in 4WDing crash

Ambulance generic

Reports a car has rolled after it crashed near Boyne Valley.

NEW FIGURES: Thousands on the hunt for more work in region

New figures reveal how many people were unemployed last month.

'Game changer': Gladstone businesses take in $600k from job package

Glenn Butcher MP.

Gladstone businesses sign up for work package boost.

Local Partners

NEW FIGURES: Thousands on the hunt for more work in region

AS GLADSTONE begins to even out after a tough 12 months, the latest jobs figures showed there were 7500 people who are unemployed throughout the region.


New Year New Yard

Win $1000 Bunnings Voucher
Learn More

Puppetry of the Penis secrets revealed ahead of show

The famed Puppetry of the Penis is coming to the Sunshine Coast for shows in Noosa and Caloundra.

WARNING: This interview contains adult themes and traces of nuts

Noll meltdown won't affect Gympie Oz Day concert

Shannon Noll

Photo Contributed

Shannon Noll is still expected to perform in Gympie next Thursday

11 huge events coming to Gladstone in the next 6 months

Events coming up in Gladstone in 2017.

Your guide to exciting events coming to the Gladstone region

Madonna hopes for election unity

Madonna hopes Donald Trump's election will "bring people together"

JK Rowling rules out Cursed Child trilogy

JK Rowling has ruled out a 'Cursed Child' movie trilogy

Buckley's chance in psychological thriller

James McAvoy and Betty Buckley in a scene from the movie Split.

Broadway veteran back on big screen with James McAvoy

Daniel MacPherson: acting’s a bit like channel surfing

Australian actor Daniel MacPherson in a scene from the American TV series APB.

THE Aussie export talks about making his mark in the US.

Shopping isn't fun if you can see dead people

Lisa Marie Woodham will be giving readings in Gladstone until Saturday January 21.

Shopping isn't fun if you can see dead people

Buderim man strips off for speed dating with a twist

RAW AMBITION: Buderim local Jackson pictured with his blind date Candice in a scene from SBS's new dating show Undressed.

People have done stranger things for love

By the water's edge

Secure your seachange

Gladstone market's confidence coming back for 2017

Core Logic property statistics reveal the region's median house price dropped 16.7% to $275,000 in the September quarter.

Region's median house price drops 16.7% to $275,000

HOT PROPERTY: Money to spend on land, buildings

File picture.

Sale, leasing of industrial real estate picks up in Mackay

Collapsed Coast company could owe up to $5 million

Staff, ATO, landlords among those out of pocket.

Ipswich block of dirt sells for $582 a square metre

JUST SOLD: A property on the Brookwater golf course sold for a record-breaking $612,000.

Property smashed 2007 record by close to $100,000

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!