The MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival (AWBF) is an exciting celebration of Australia's rich maritime heritage and culture, and one of the world's most anticipated maritime events. It is a biennial event held over a February long weekend on the height of the Tasmanian summer. The next AWBF, the 12th, will be held from February 10-13, 2017.
Held across Hobart’s vibrant and bustling waterfront, the four-day festival brings together the largest and most beautiful collection of wooden boats in Australia. From its humble beginnings in 1994, the AWBF has grown to become the largest wooden boat festival in the Southern Hemisphere. In 2015 the festival attracted more than 550 wooden boats and 220,000 visitors.
The AWBF features a lively program of exhibitions, races, activities for children and a wonderful entertainment program. There’s the Maritime Marketplace, with more than 60 exhibitors with everything nautical from anchors to pennants and great how-to workshops.
The Open Boat scheme enables festival-goers to get aboard some of the most famous racing yachts, beautiful cruisers and family boats, tall ships and working boats in the country. There is superb Tasmanian food and wine to enjoy and an International Wooden Boat Symposium to attend. Or visitors may prefer take in a leisurely art exhibition or just sit on the waterfront and watch the maritime world pass by.
In 2017, the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival will feature a Dutch theme, celebrating 375 years since the Dutch navigator Abel Tasman made the first European discovery of the island that would one day bear his name. A special exhibition of early Dutch charts and maps, including Tasman’s 1642 log book, will be on display at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and an exciting project will see young Dutch shipwrights travel from the Netherlands to Tasmania to build a traditional Dutch-design boat at the Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin, near Hobart.
Best of all, with assistance from Events Tasmania and generous corporate sponsors, admission to the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival is absolutely free! There is no admission charge, no tickets and no gates. Just wander in and enjoy yourself.
There’s lots to see and do in Tasmania for the boat enthusiast, so allow enough time to enjoy the festival and then explore the beautiful cruising grounds of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel or the bustling wooden boat centre of Franklin, just 45 minutes south of Hobart.
SV TENACIOUS TO FEATURE AT THE MYSTATE AUSTRALIAN WOODEN BOAT FESTIVAL 2017
A featured vessel starring at the 2017 MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival is the magnificent three-masted barque SV Tenacious. She’s 213ft long from bowsprit to stern, has a displacement of 714 tons, carries 13,000sqft of sail and is currently on her way to Australia.
SV Tenacious is sailing from the UK via the Panama Canal and she’s due to arrive in time for the Parade of Sail that opens the Australian Wooden Boat Festival on 10 February 2017.
This is no ordinary ship. She’s the largest wooden boat built in the UK in the last 100 years. That would be reason enough to welcome Tenacious as a feature vessel at the 2017 festival, but it’s actually more remarkable than that. This ship is specially designed to make it possible for disabled sailors to ‘work the ship’ on her ocean-going, blue-water passages.
Physical disabilities, sensory disabilities or intellectual disabilities present no barriers to experiencing the trip of a lifetime aboard this amazing ship. Able-bodied voyage crew are equally welcome aboard and the ratio of able-bodied to those with a disability is usually around 50:50.
The MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival is particularly proud to welcome SV Tenacious to Australian waters because, until now, disabled Australians have not had the opportunity to sail any ship like this. There is no purpose-designed vessel of this size based in Australia.
SV Tenacious is scheduled to remain in Australia for several months after her arrival and there are many long-passage sectors available for passengers to enjoy.
While Tenacious is in Hobart, everyone is welcome to visit the ship and see the remarkable adaptations made to enable all sailors to get involved in tall ship adventure. The Australian Wooden Boat Festival organising committee is encouraging service clubs, para-athletic organisations, carers and individuals to start planning now to raise funds to enable disabled sailors (and those who’ve never sailed at all) to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Full details of the available voyages can be found on the Jubilee Sailing Trust website at http://jst.org.uk/voyages/melbourne-round-trip-6/ or by subscribing to the AWBF newsletter for news of local opportunities while the ship is in Tasmanian waters.
UNIQUELY HARVESTED FINE TASMANIAN TIMBERS DESTINED FOR DUTCH BOAT-BUILDING PROJECT
A team of young Dutch wooden boat builders will spend around three months in Tasmania leading up to the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival, specifically to build a traditional Dutch sailing dinghy from the finest Tasmanian timbers.
The timber for the project will be supplied by Hydrowood. The donated timber has spent the past 25 years preserved deep underwater in Tasmania’s hidden wilderness following the flooding of the Pieman River for a hydro-electricity development. But thanks to an incredible vision and innovative feats of modern engineering Hydrowood is now harvesting precious timbers, thought lost, deep below the waters of Lake Pieman.
The speciality timbers recovered include Tasmanian Myrtle, Sassafras, Celery Top and the legendary Huon Pine. These increasingly scarce timber species are once again accessible, thanks to Hydrowood’s tenacity and vision. Their amazing feats of underwater engineering have made it possible to recover a lost resource and make it available to extend the heritage of boat-building and fine woodworking in Tasmania. The Dutch builders are very excited to be travelling to the ‘far ends of the earth’ as their compatriots once did in the 17th Century. They will create a Dutch design boat in rare Tasmanian timber. Hydrowood’s generosity and assistance from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Australia, have made the project possible.
The boat is planned for completion on site during the festival and will be launched at the festival as a grand finale to the project.
THE DUTCH ARE COMING
There’s a long tradition of inviting other nations with strong maritime traditions to come and participate in the largest wooden boat festival in the southern hemisphere. The MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival (AWBF) has previously hosted visiting groups from Japan, Indonesia and Norway, and individual ships and boat builders from the UK, Ireland, France, USA and New Zealand among others.
2017 marks the 375th anniversary of Abel Tasman’s discovery of the island that now carries his name, Tasmania – the home of the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival. Given this anniversary celebration, the 2017 festival will have a distinct Dutch theme. A team of young Dutch wooden boat-builders will spend around three months in Tasmania leading up to the festival and will build a traditional Dutch sailing dinghy from the finest Tasmanian timbers. The boat is planned for completion on site during the festival and will be launched at the festival as a grand finale to the project.
The 2017 MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival will also feature entertainment from the Netherlands as well as Dutch-inspired foods.
There will also be an exhibition of charts, hand-written notes and the log book kept by Abel Tasman, along with other rare original documents from private Australian collections on display at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery during the festival.
The exhibition is supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and jointly curated by the Dutch National Archive, Amsterdam’s famous Scheepvaartmuseum and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.
The chairman of the AWBF, Mr Steven Knight, travelled to Amsterdam recently and visited the National Archives of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in The Hague.
He was amazed to see, and actually hold, Tasman’s original log book from 1642.
“I was stunned to see detailed drawings of the Tasmanian coastline, maritime charts, beautiful illustrations of Batavia and Tokyo Bay, along with amazingly accurate maps of the Pacific Ocean and other waterways,” Mr Knight said.
“These, we have to remember, were prepared by Dutch navigators and explorers sailing thousands of miles in wooden ships, long before the days of chronometers, sextants or even a system of determining longitude.
“They had no charts or maps of these unknown waters, except for the ones they made themselves.
“As a feat of seamanship, Tasman’s voyage to Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand, on to Tonga and a safe return to Dutch Batavia must be judged one of the most remarkable in the history of navigation.”
Visitors to the 2017 MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival will have a similar opportunity at the festival exhibition The Early Dutch Explorers presented in cooperation with the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in February 2017.
In addition, the ever-popular International Wooden Boat Symposium, an integral part of the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival, will feature speakers addressing this remarkable period of our history, as intrepid explorers went to sea in small wooden vessels.
At a Glance:
What: 112th MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival
When: February 10-13, 2017
Where: Sullivan's Cove, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Event Blog: http://awbf.com.au