The tempo is building as the boats begin to line the dock for the 2019 MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival, the must see event on the calendar of boat lovers everywhere.
But it is not just boat lovers who flock to this festival. Anyone who appreciates the natural beauty of timber and fine craftsmanship will be in awe of the nearly 500 boats on display. It is a photographer’s and artist’s dream and a wealth of information and inspiration for people interested in Australia’s maritime heritage.
Similarly, there are those who choose to dine on Tasmania’s finest foods and beverages while enjoying a multitude of entertainments on the festival site; children playing in the nautically-themed Kids’ Zone; or families watching and learning as old maritime crafts such a steaming and bending timber for wooden-boat planking or weaving crayfish pots, are demonstrated.
The MyState Bank Australian Wooden Boat Festival is also a prime exhibition event for many maritime-based companies and organisations, with over 60 exhibitors featured this year.
For those who are serious about wooden boat design, sail-making, rigging or maybe planning on sailing around the world, the International Wooden Boat Symposium hosted by the Australian National Maritime Museum has a line-up of world-renowned experts on these and many other topics.
The MyState Bank Australian Wooden Boat Festival was judged one of the top three events held in Australia in Qantas Australian Tourism Awards 2015. Held biennially, it is one of Tasmania’s leading events and one of the few international events held in the state.
The Tasmanian Government has supported this festival from its inception and this ongoing funding ensures that it remains a free event for the public while securing a significant return on investment for the Government.
Over 200 000 are expected to visit the festival this year and reliable post code data from a comprehensive survey taken during the last festival indicated 48 per cent of attendees came from interstate and two per cent from overseas.
This perhaps isn’t surprising as the MyState Bank Australian Wooden Boat Festival is the largest wooden boat festival in the Southern Hemisphere.
Tasmania in February is generally at its best and with the added attraction of the MyState Bank Australian Wooden Boat Festival it is simply irresistible but with accommodation booked throughout the south of the state pretty much booked out, you may just need to book now for 2021.
One of the early highlights for the festival was the arrival of Wright of Passage Mercator. A dilapidated 53-foot wooden ketch, Wright of Passage Mercator, and the crew from the inaugural Sailors with disABILITIES (SWD) Wright of Passage Program launched their labour of love at Woolwich dock in NSW, sailed down the coast and into Hobart.
The Wright of Passage program is a unique joint project between SWD, TAFE NSW and the Oatley family. It is supported by a long list of donors and a volunteer team of 15 providing disadvantaged and disabled youths with positive employment and work-ready skills for the marine industry.
Delilah Scott, a trainee on the Wright of Passage Program managing severe Type 1 diabetes says: “When we started the program I didn’t think any of this was possible. But here we are in Hobart which is both thrilling and terrifying. I can’t wait to share my experiences and let others know they too can achieve the same thing. I know I’ll be out of my comfort zone but I’m so excited and so keen to be here.”
The five Wright of Passage trainees, aged between 16 and 21, were joined by skipper David Pescud and four other ocean sailing veterans as crew: Andrew Davidson as Project Manager, Andrew Rogers, Clive Hassett and Deborah Sandars as carers on their journey south.
The crew will join in the festivities at the MyState Bank Australian Wooden Boat Festival this weekend where ‘Wright of Passage’ will be open for people to walk through and learn about
its history and restoration program. And, more importantly, celebrate the success of the current team of Liam, Delilah, Mark, Josh and Jackson who have attained traineeships or employment as a result of the program.
The 2019 Festival will run from February 8-11.