Gladstone Pier lyrics
From Frontline (1984), On The Frontline (1984), Anything's Legal, Anything Goes (1985), If You Don't Fight You Lose (1985), The Very Best of Redgum (1987), Against The Grain (2004) and The Essential Redgum (2011)
Gladstone Pier (Michael Atkinson)
Peter was a sailor,
Swarthy, lean and proud.
He could take schooner through
A big sea swell,
Aloof in the mainland crowd.
She loved his quiet laughter,
Like a boy he’d shrug and grin,
The beach stretched wide at Port MacKay,
With dreams upon the wind.
He wore her name in a rose tattoo,
Long weekends of gins and lime.
She lived in Cairns,
Made plans to move,
Check-out girl part-time
And rumour said there’s a boom ahead.
You can make your future here,
By the Gladstone pier.
A two-room fibro shelter,
Empty hopes, the damp, the flies.
Prices hiked, her face grew tight
And conversation died.
And the foreman at the smelter said
“You’re much too old,
Try the canefields further north”
And the clerk at the market said
“We don’t buy trouble.
There’s a strike down at the port.”
Then a six day shift in a filthy pit,
The draglines gouging coal,
The black dust gnaws at your lungs and pores.
The anger rots your soul.
And the queue round the block waits for you to drop,
Can you take it for another year.
By the Gladstone pier.
Every Sunday he’d walk alone,
Casting pebbles at the passing waves.
Plunge in brine, cleanse his pride,
And the stronger man remains.
The crunch of shales and distant sails
Ached within his bones,
Seeing ships upon the tide.
Bound for ports unknown.
Soon he drank for comfort.
She grew bitter in the weeks between
The nights of beer and hollow cheer,
When love became routine.
They fought, she left him crying.
Angry words in a last café.
Desperation on a lonely night,
She took the bus to Cairns next day.
Gladstone couples break that way,
Mutual blame and no regrets.
Boomtown blues just fate to grey,
And all that’s left are debts.
“I have to leave this dirty old town
and the rattle of broken men,
Break these chains, wash the pain,
And out to sea again.
I drained all my passion, my anger and my fear,
And sank them in a flagon
Under Gladstone pier.”
She saw him through Greyhound window,
As the dawn glowed on the chrome.
Waiting by the pier under sullen skies,
The sea winds calling home.
From Surfers up to Townsville,
Past the high-rise colonies.
Fast food, cheap motels, and two more
From the "On The Frontline" Concert April 25th 1984 at the Sydney Entertainment Center 1984 Frontline album version Live in 1987 with Hugh McDonald and Redgum