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Australian Wooden Boat Festival 2019

Overview of the 4 day Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart from SWD's Roving Reporter & Volunteer Crew Member Renee. (Photo Credit Steve Kelly).

Day 1 and 2 of the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival 😀 (February 9 & 10)

And what a great introduction to what it's like to show off your boat to the public it has been! I was already really proud of what the Wright of Passage program has achieved in the past 12 months, but I'm now just discovering how very, very, over the moon and into a whole other galaxy proud I really should be.

I'll openly put my hand up to being very new to the world of boats, as well as having near zero understanding of anything to do with wood work, carpentry, building, painting, maintenance etc. I've seen Mercator's before and after. I know that quite a number of people have been working very hard over the past 12 months, and that an estimated 6000 work hours have gone into Mercator. But my ignorance meant that I didn't fully grasp what's been achieved until I spoke to a couple hundred wooden boat enthusiasts.

I have two methods of engaging people on the dock; give them under a minute to look at the story board banner on the stern of the boat, and then watch their reaction when I drop the bombshell that those pre-work photos were taken exactly 12 months ago; or, start talking about the project and then bring out the 12 month old pre-work photos, and again enjoy the shocked expressions. I'm a researcher in my paid career right - so such reactions from such a big sample size of experienced replicates definitely means that what Wright of Passage has achieved in terms of Mercator's progress is absolutely huge! I don't think words can describe it really.

The other program achievement I'm more proud of now than ever before, is the ability of our young people. I knew transformations were there, but I've seen the young people doing things over the last two days that I thought they might have a hard time with. They've been engaging with the people that walk past the boat, telling them all about their personal experiences in the program and what it has meant to them, and they've been proudly giving people tours of the boat and talking all things technical with those who ask. I can't begin to tell you what this sight is like to behold, and how proud we all are of them. 

As for how the festival itself is going? Well, there are hundreds and hundreds of beautiful wooden boats of all different shapes and sizes, there have been literally thousands of people along the docks so far, from a wide range of ages, background experiences, and countries, there's lots of beautiful Tassie produce for lunch, and sounds coming from the different live stages. We are getting some good engagement with our boat, and it's been amazing to discover the large number of people who knew a bit about the Wright of Passage program and recognised Mercator from all the recent media coverage we've been receiving. I've been meeting friends and supporters of SWD, as well as some of our sponsors. This morning I had some of the men from Norglass come down to our berth to see what we have done with all the paints and finishes they generously sponsored us with.

We are all happy and well and having a great time, though a little tired by all the work activity and excitement (apologies for a delayed report on the beginning of the festival - fatigue was a bit of a problem for me on Day 1...). 

Visit our crowdfunding page to see more information and to make a donation to keep this fantastic program running

Thank you again to our sponsors:

The Oatley Family and Woolwich Dock


Australian Wooden Boat Festival

Distinctive Timbers

Anagote Timbers

Survitec RFD

P & L Communications

Searoad Logistics

Bob Scott Marine Trimming

Bainbridge International

DUWA Joinery Leichhardt



Day 3 February 10th

Another fabulous day, even with a few minor hiccups that included our most important storyboard banner going missing, and the Tap & Go machine going for a swim... Lots more great engagement with the wooden boat community and some great contacts made. 


Day 4 and the final day of the MyState Bank Australian Wooden Boat Festival 2019 😀 February 11

Hobart turned on some glorious weather today, and spirits were high (once we got some coffee into us - we're all operating on some level of excited and enthusiastic tired at the moment). Crowd size was a little down compared to the previous three days. That was to be expected though. Regardless, we were still engaging people on the dock and having quite a number of them hop on our boat for a tour. Having a quieter day crowd wise also made it easier to talk and spend more time with those boaties who have a real potential to be useful to the program.

One of our youth in particular came alive today, and was out there on the dock on his own, talking to people, making good conversation, and getting donations and raffle ticket sales. In the previous days of the show he preferred to stay in the comfort of sticking close to me, and needed quite a bit of prompting to approach an interested person on his own. I'm proud of all our young people, though today I was most proud and most impressed by his work.

In the afternoon, as the festival came to a close, we enjoyed watching a large number of different wooden boats all motoring past us on the end of a marina finger, and off into the River Derwent. We spent some time packing up our festival materials and organising gear, before then drawing the raffle winner of the Zhik 3-piece set of Isotak wet weather gear - see other post, but again, congratulations Kim, thank you to all those who bought tickets in support of our fundraising effort, and thank you Zhik for providing us a great prize worth $1999.

This evening I enjoyed a great dinner prepared by one of our young people, and we spent a good hour, sitting around the kitchen island, as the young people and David and Deb talked about the whole big adventure of the last 12 months. There was laughter, tears, and a fabulous discussion. A number of special things has happened in a number of lives - and not just for our young people. So thank you to everyone who has made this journey possible... Words cannot begin!

From SWD's Roving Reporter (& Volunteer Crew Member) Renee.

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