Hobart is home to the Australian Wooden Boat Festival, a spectacular 4-day celebration of maritime culture and craftsmanship. More than 50,000 visitors, boat owners and enthusiasts are expected to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of this unique event which offers more than just a taste of Tasmania’s best food and beverages. The variety and quality of boats on show is matched only by the generosity and passion of their owners.
A complete festival program will be published towards the end of 2008, but in the meantime, here are some of the highlights you can expect to see at the 2009 Australian Wooden Boat Festival. Held over four summer days from 6th– 9th February 2009, the Australian Wooden Boat Festival celebrates maritime culture and the unique character and appeal of craft constructed from timber, the world’s traditional and time-honoured boat-building material.
Over 500 wooden boats of all shapes and sizes – end to end they would form a flotilla of over 4.5km. UNBELIEVABLE DETAIL Marine Models – you won’t find a better collection of marine models than at the Australian Wooden Boat Festival. JUST FOR KIDS – daily puppet shows, model boat pond, par buckling, wood carving, and the I-Spy booklet are all part of the entertainment program created especially for the little’uns.
Every boat has a story, and every owner treasures finding out more about the history and provenance of their vessel.
Admiral – see the continuing restoration of this 28ft long Huon Pine 8-oared rowing ferry that was built in 1865 and is perhaps Australia’s oldest existing boat. Britannia - built in 1898 on Flinders Island by Richard Day, Britannia is one of the oldest boats still sailing. Minocqua - owned by the Honorary Consul to Monaco, Minocqua is a 50’ bridge-deck Halvorsen cruiser.
Torea – this 30ft sailboat, with all the hallmarks of a Charlie Peel design, is thought to have been built in Melbourne in 1938. Vigilant - The Vigilant was purpose built by Ray Kemp for Tasmania Police as an offshore patrol and rescue vessel and is the only operational wooden police boat in Australia. Westwind – eagerly anticipated is the arrival of Westwind, a 36’ double-ended Huon Pine cutter.
The inaugural Australian Wooden Boat Festival was staged in November 1994, and continued to be held every other year in November (1996, and 1998), until it was decided to hold the event over the February long weekend, which has been the tradition since 2001. Before we get on to registered boats, we are delighted to advise that a very big boat owner, TT-Line, has offered passenger discounts on the Spirit of Tasmania for travel between 24th January and 1st May 2009 for festival-goers travelling across Bass Strait.
There are always things to look forward to at the Festival, but the arrival of two Jock Muir built boats, Maris and Westwind, is something we are looking forward to with great excitement!
The elder by 23 years, Westwind is a 36’ double-ended Huon Pine cutter and was the first big boat built by Jock Muir.
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The James Craig was a hulk in Esperance Tasmania for many years before being brought to Hobart where it remained for many years whilst volunteers made the hull seaworthy enough to tow it to Sydney.
In February 2009, over 500 boats - wooden craft of all shapes and sizes - will congregate on the city’s historic waterfront for the eighth festival.


From model boat sailing to clambering around a tall ship; from watching shipwrights at work to cheering on the community boat building teams; from handling the latest products in the maritime marketplace to having a go at par buckling, there is just so much to see and do! The Festival is a collection of boats, skills and people who share a desire to protect our environment, resources and our maritime, craft, fishing and wood-working culture – their stories and experiences are of enormous value. Housed over 2 acres of water and dockside venues, the festival always draws a big crowd, and it’s no wonder. Tall Ships – see them lead the Parade of Sail on Friday, then snoop around below decks during the weekend to see an amazing snapshot of life aboard these gracious old vessels. Seataste – if you want more than just “a taste” of good food, and more to look at than your plate of stuffed mushrooms, then ours is the Festival for you.
Surf Boat Jamboree – you won’t see anything else like it – a sensational new addition to the action afloat and ashore – up to 15 old wooden surf boats from around Australia will feature at the 2009 Festival.
Steam Power – they huff and they puff and they whistle with delight – their gleaming engines always eager to get moving. Quick ‘n’ Dirty – watch the school teams go from relatively clean, to absolutely covered in paint and glue as they race to build, decorate and then race their craft around Constitution Dock in one of the highlight events of the weekend. Model boats, classic yachts, whale boats and surf boats will take to the water for some friendly racing and skills displays. Community boat building – new to the Festival, this exciting boat-building project will see groups of friends, families, work colleagues and other community teams get together to build their own wooden boat during the weekend. If you don’t know how to row, and you’ve always wanted to have a go, you can climb on board one of Mission Afloat’s rowing boats and learn for free.
Shipwright’s Village – adzing, steam bending, roving, half model making and name board carving.
Maritime Marketplace – find your boating solutions with the latest products, advice, and marine technology all under one roof in the Maritime Marketplace. The Maritime Museum of Tasmania is mounting a unique display of historic photographs of wooden boats and associated maritime events. Here’s a small selection of some of the vessels you will see at the festival, and a tiny taste of the stories behind them. In her day, Admiral was licensed to carry up to 30 passengers between Bellerive and Hobart.
Originally constructed as a double ender, she was a freight-carrying and later a fishing cutter with a gaff rig and centreboard. She’s certainly an elegant 70-year old, having been through a couple of restorations in the 1990s and a more thorough rebuilding programme in 2005.
Not only because it will be her first visit home in 69 years, but she was the first big boat built by the legendary Jock Muir.
Three hundred and fifty boats are now registered, so to celebrate we are dedicating this September edition of the newsletter to boat stories.
Both have different tales to tell and if they could talk we might learn that these long-lost siblings knew each other on Sydney Harbour sometime in the late 1950s. This amazing scene of colour and activity provides the perfect setting for an extensive program of dockside entertainment, music, demonstrations, and displays.


Coming from Sydney for the Festival, these competitive replica historic boats will be racing twice a day in Sullivan’s Cove and on the Derwent River. Gourmet Tasmanian produce, wines and entertainment, all served in the lively atmosphere of a unique maritime festival. Just some of the traditional skills being demonstrated in the Shipwright’s Village, proudly presented by Tasmanian Perpetual Trustees. She was found on an island in the Manning River in northern NSW, under the name Myra, and brought home to Tasmania for restoration by The Admiralty Restoration Group, led by maritime figure Bern Cuthbertson. Britannia was built of Kauri below the waterline and Huon Pine above using batten-seam construction.
Previously owned by three Commodores - Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, the Cruising Yacht Club and the Australian Yacht Squadron, she was used in the Queen’s bi-centennial functions in Queensland in 1988. Constructed similar to a Couta Boat with a bowsprit and 1.5 tonne of internal lead ballast, but with no centreplate, Torea has a roomy self-draining cockpit and spacious cabin, and a Bermudan cutter rig with Oregon spars.
Jock began building her in 1935, for himself, in his parents’ back-yard, but in 1940 she sailed to Sydney and was sold. There are a number of smaller “classic” and “wooden boat” events held around the country, but Tasmania hosts the only “Australian” festival, and continues to attract more and more entries from interstate. In October we will advise on the teams chosen to participate in the inaugural Community Boat Building, and give you an update on other programmed events and highlights including steam-powered vessels and more news about the Sydney 18footers!
Jock began building her in 1935, for himself, in his parents’ back yard, but in 1940 she sailed to Sydney and was sold. Opening with the wonderful Parade of Sail on Friday, there is action aplenty on the water throughout the weekend including wooden surf boat racing, a classic 18ft skiff challenge, and the ever-popular “Quick ‘n’ Dirty” kids boat building and race. Bought by her current owners in 2000 from the estate of Alfred Davis (Bruny Island), Britannia was first displayed at the Festival in 2001, after being hauled out and partially restored. She has Oregon planking above the waterline with Spotted Gum below and replacement ribs of Celery Top Pine.
Although registered for the 2007 Festival, she had to withdraw when it was discovered that the flat sections of her hull at mid-ships required bilge stringers. Details of the next 40 years are sketchy, but in 1997 she was “rescued”, rebuilt, and will be sailing to Hobart from north Queensland after a recent trip up the east coast. If I ever get over to the east side, a visit to the maritime museum will be right up there on my list. These had not been replaced in 2005 but were found to be necessary to provide the required stiffness.



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