Letter from the Chairman – April 2018

The City of Sydney is a place very fondly regarded by many Australians, particularly it’s magnificent harbour.  It is a very fitting place for the Classic and Wooden Boat Festival, which was held recently at Cockle Bay, and organised by the Australian National Maritime Museum. We at Australian Wooden Boat Festival Inc have enjoyed a very long and rewarding relationship with the Australian National Maritime Museum, and we were very pleased to be able to support the event, and whilst there, publicise our own MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival, in Hobart.  Regrettably, I was not able to make the trip, but by all accounts, our general manager Paul Cullen, board member Geoff Pickard with partner Sue, and members Roscoe and Cheryl Barnett and Mike Ponsonby had a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding time.  They were very flattered by the interest in our own event, and I should record our thanks to the Australian National Maritime Museum for its support, and making a space available for us during the course of their Festival.

I would like to thank those who represented us in Sydney, for their efforts; and to congratulate the Australian National Maritime Museum in conducting a wonderful event!

Early indications are that we are going to enjoy a strong level of support from interstate and in particular from Sydney and surrounds, with many Sydneysiders not only bringing their own wooden boats to our event, but coming to enjoy it.  We look forward to seeing you all!  Further, we hope to have a number of square rigged ships come and enjoy the fun at our festival; we love having them here, and they make such a marvellous spectacle whilst sailing up the River Derwent to join us, at the opening Parade of Sail.

Readers will note that expressions of interest are now open for those who want to display their vessels on water during the Festival.  I would urge all those interested to lodge their expressions of interest as soon as possible.  We would dearly love to be able to accommodate everybody who wanted to bring their wooden boat to our Festival, but history shows that we will have far more boats than we have available space, but we will, as usual, do our very best to accommodate as many beautiful wooden boats as possible.


Steve Knight

Chairman AWBF


AWBF 2019 – Open for Business

We are delighted to say that the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival 2019 is officially open for business, with release of the Expression of Interest portal for Boats Afloat and a brand-new website to help you find it.

Yes, the run-up started officially on April 15, as promised, with the upload of a fresh new-look website and a much simplified system for registering your interest in joining us for the largest wooden boat festival in the Southern Hemisphere.  Boats Afloat (competitive application for one of our 350+ places afloat in Sullivan’s Cove) starts a process that will unfold as Boats Ashore (6 May), Model Boats (14 May) and Trade Exhibitors (14 May) open progressively over the next few weeks.  Food & Beverage Exhibitors (18 July), Community Groups (27 August) and the all-important Volunteers Registration (1 October) follow later in the year.

The new website is a progressive step for us, simplifying navigation through the site, refreshing links, adding colour and movement.  Using modern software platforms like WordPress, the website is now faster, more easily updated and corrected in-house.  We’ll be able to add interactive maps, boat listings, stories and news items at a speed we couldn’t dream about just two years ago.  There are still a few of kinks and wrinkles to smooth out, but we’ll be able to attend to them quickly.

Congratulations to an impressive team of brains and flying fingers who contributed to the project, including web designer Sean Ravenwood, tech specialist ‘Effy’ Zavros, registration guru Chris Palmer, office manager Bronnie Hansson and AWBF friends and Board members on the beta testing team organised by Peter Higgs.  We’re certainly not finished yet, but it’s a terrific start.

Ready to file your Expression of Interest (EOI) for Boats Afloat in 2019?  Go straight to it HERE.

Classic & Wooden Boat Show in Sydney

Many thanks to our hosts at the Australian National Maritime Museum, for great hospitality and a prime position at the recent Classic & Wooden Boat Show in Sydney.  It was a wonderful chance to catch up with lots of friends in the wooden boat community and spread the word about the upcoming MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival in 2019.  The two events are perfectly poised to cross-promote, falling as they do in opposite years.

Roscoe (right) talks punts with the punters

The results were excellent in bright, hot, sunny Sydney weather.  A few of us Tasmanians were melting around the edges, but blustery winds kept the temperature within reason and the crowds were out to enjoy themselves.  We met up with representatives from the Museum (sponsor of the International Wooden Boat Symposium in Hobart), the Sydney Heritage Fleet (confirming intentions to bring the magnificent James Craig to Tasmania for 2019) and Tall Ships Australia & New Zealand (who offered promising news about tall ships Soren Larsen and One and All).

The line-up at the Classic & Wooden Boat Festival was magnificent, with more than 140 boats present, including the stunning Edwardian steam launch Ena and screen star Hurrica V.   The array of shiny Halvorsens at the Darling Harbour waterfront had classic boat enthusiasts drooling and across the water at Cockle Bay, a really fascinating collection of vintage and veterans boats including ferries, workboats and ex-Service vessels.

Beautiful boats everywhere

Thanks go to to AWBF On Water Manager Ross Barnett and his wife Cheryl, Sue and Geoff Pickard and Symposium convenor Mike Ponsonby for their long-serving hours of help, staffing the AWBF stand and answering questions with great patience.

The atmosphere was upbeat and friendly, the entertainment charmed the crowd and performances by the angelic Australian Girls’ Choir brought the odd tear to a few Crusty Old Salts’ eyes.  There seemed to be a livelier and more interesting assortment of displays this year and from the exhibitor’s point of view, the site crew and security staff could not have been more helpful.