Town Tour Gladstone

Friday late morning Aileen gave me an introduction to Gladstone. She’s already living in town since 46 years, but is still not accounted as local 😉. Aileen introduced me to the Good (Botanic Gardens), the Bad (Coal & LNG harbour) and the Ugly (Aluminium refinery – QAL) 😆. So we went first to the Ugly, the largest Aluminium refinery in Australia, which processes bauxite, which arrives as orange ore from Northern Queensland by barge, into fine Aluminium powder. Hence, the whole place is covered in orange dust. It operates since almost 60 years, and replaced the old meat works at the same place. Then we drove through the town centre, with all the small businesses and old pubs, yes there’re quite some pubs with much more gambling possibilities. Then we stopped at a lookout to get a view across the Bad…the harbour with all the coal loading facilities. We got also a glimpse over to Curtis island, it’s a pretty large island, but since five years it’s mainly known for it’s large LNG export terminal. From the three operating plants the LNG is exported mainly to South Korea and Malaysia. During the 4 years of construction, a lot of construction workers came from all over Australia. Real estate prices just increased dramatically, as everybody wanted to participate during this boom, and the population of Gladstone just increased by a fair amount. But in essence, most of the LNG plants was prefabricated in Taiwan and brought over by ship, and then just connected here. Which meant, it was much faster completed as some of the people hoped, and needed by far less local labour than expected, which is reasonable at the labour costs in Australia. The companies even want to export more LNG, but they can’t get enough to do so. And even the harbour turned out to be to narrow. The waves which are caused by an LNG tanker are pushing the coal ships too hard to the jetty. Hence, now discussions arousing a discussion to further extending and deepening the harbour. After all the industrial and especially economic back bone of Gladstone, we went on to the Good, the nice botanical gardens. We enjoyed a cappuccino each at the cafe near the pond and watched out to be not attacked by the birds. In the evening I went with Clarke to his pub. This pub was only populated by locals, who want to have some drinks after their working week in one of the heavy metal industries. He introduced me to some of his mates, and we had a couple of beers while listening to the music. It was pretty interesting to see this, and not only the “backpackers” having party at one of the beaches along the East Coast.

The Ugly…
…the largest Aluminium refinery in Queensland…
…processes bauxite into Aluminium powder
The Bad…Black coal, the million year old swamp, is simultaneously loaded onto several ships to be exported into the world…as the cheapest and dirtiest energy carrier at all. But it’s all about “jobs, jobs, jobs”
Crops and fuel are also traded next to the coal
The flying ship in the harbour 😉

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