Held every two years, the Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart is a real treat, whether you are a mad keen boatie or not. The event has grown from a social gathering of wooden boat enthusiasts in 1994 into the huge event it is today, but the idea is the same: to celebrate maritime heritage and culture and the enduring beauty of wooden boats. Last time it was on some friends from Sydney were visiting Hobart especially for the festival and we enjoyed it very much.
I spent part of yesterday on the Franklin History Group stand, which was part of the Franklin Village display that included The Living Boat Trust, the Wooden Boat School, Franklin Marine and the Huon Trail tourism folk. One aim of the Franklin Village display was to talk to people about the big idea brewing to see the old Franklin river port reborn into a 'working waterfront' and a home for the building, conservation and preservation of wooden boats. Quite a few people from the Franklin area travelled to the festival by wooden boat themselves, on the Tawe Nunnugah raid from Recherche Bay to Hobart, stopping at Southport, Dover, Cygnet, Oyster Cover and other local ports along the way on a 10 day voyage. What an adventure that must have been.
Today David and I went back into Hobart on the motorbike for another look around the festival and some satay from the Indonesian Village display. We saw the lovely model boats and the steam ferry again. A replica viking ship called 'Rusich' had travelled all the way from Russia (it was spotted in Sydney Harbour a few weeks ago) and the all-black 15th century Portuguese Caravel 'Notorious' (apparently Australia's oldest boat reconstruction) complete with pirate flags was very popular with the kids. Oh and navy and red striped shirts were the costume de rigueur.
Two cruise ships docked in Hobart during the festival, including the Oosterdam pictured below. The passengers sure had a big party waiting for them. The whole dockside area was full of boats, displays, food and entertainment. If you missed it this year, you'll have to wait two years for the next Wooden Boat Festival, but it wouldn't hurt to book a hotel. The place was packed. Here's a nice ABC News video showing the viking boat and some of the other 550 boats on display.