‘Early Dutch Explorers’ exhibition travels abroad.

At the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival earlier this year, we produced a special exhibition marking 375 years since Abel Tasman and his crew on board the Heemskerck, visited the island that would one day carry his name. The exhibition, presented at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, was the result of an international collaboration between Dutch journalist Kaeren Meirik, Tasmanian graphic artist Julie Hawkins, New Zealand researcher Dave Horry and Tasmanian cartographer Henk Brolsma.

Who would have thought then that this exhibition would travel on to both the Netherlands and New Zealand? We are delighted to see that this extraordinary story is of interest all over the world.

At the Noordelijk Scheepvaartmuseum in Groningen everything is ready to open Dutch version of the exhibition of the exhibition that we mounted in TMAG some 9 months ago. It will open on November 24th, exactly 375 years after Abel Tasman first sighted the west coast of Tasmania.

The English language version will be on display in New Zealand at the Maritime Museum in Auckland on the weekend of 2-4 December, 2017 and at the Golden Bay museum in Nelson at their commemoration of the First Encounter between Maori and Europeans.

Find out more about the Dutch exhibition at their website: tasman375.groningen.nl/en


Bark Europa Returns to the Southern Ocean

Bark Europa

Who can forget the magnificent Bark Europa, or the visit of the Dutch fleet for Tall Ships Hobart back in 2013? Along with Tecla and Oosterschelde, this beautiful tall ship drew thousands of people to see her at Princes Wharf. Europa lives an exciting life and the latest news is that she is back in the Southern Ocean and on her way to Antarctica. Fresh from the Bermuda to Boston Tall Ships Race, Europa is about to embark on a 6,000 nautical mile voyage from Nova Scotia in Canada to Montevideo, Uruguay. Then it’s time for a stopover, preparing the ship for the real adventure: on to Antarctica. If a genuine blue-water passage on a traditional tall ship is on your bucket list, have a look at the details on the ship’s website here:

Bark Europa Adventures

We are hoping that tall ship expeditions in the Southern Ocean will become more familiar, perhaps extending to adventure cruises to the sub-Antarctic islands and East Antarctica from Hobart. Now, wouldn’t that be something? Hobart’s growing reputation as an Antarctic gateway city might get us there.

Seacrest – It Started with a Log

If you own a wooden boat (or if you used to own a boat and you’re all better now), this little story might ring a bell:

Once upon a time there was a log.  It was a very nice log of celery top pine and along with a slightly smaller log, it was donated by the clever people at Hydrowood, who are reclaiming valuable boat-building timber from the Tasmanian highland lakes.  Here at the AWBF, someone said ‘Hey, free wood! Those logs would make a great boat, wouldn’t they?’  So the log was milled by local wooden boat enthusiast Dave Golding and the lovely clean timber was brought to the Wooden Boat Centre at Franklin.

But of course if the timber was ever to be anything more than a stack of wood, we would need a team of boat builders to knock it into shape. We were lucky to find a team of six student shipwrights and their instructor who were willing to come out all the way out from Holland to build our boat.  Well, they needed somewhere to stay and somewhere to build the boat, so the kind people in the town of Franklin helped to find them places to live and the Wooden Boat Centre gave them a workshop to build the boat in.

Sure, the air fares and the accommodation and the tools and the extra materials and the transport all cost a few dollars, but hey, it was free wood and volunteer labour, right?

And then one day, it was done! We had a beautiful Dutch-design sailboat called a BM16m2 and it was christened ‘Seacrest’.  We hired a truck and a crane (oh, we had to build a cradle for it to sit in)  and then we shipped it up to the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival, where it was a big hit and everyone admired it.


In fact one man, a retired rock lobster fisherman from Victoria named Gerhard Wilmink, liked it so much that he pointed it out to his partner, Cherie.  ‘Look, that’s a lovely boat and it’s up for auction today and I bet it will go for a good price and wouldn’t the grandchildren love it?’ (If you have ever watched a patient partner listen to the ravings of a wooden boat lover, you can imagine the eye-rolling and the resigned expression).  Gerhard bid carefully in a lively auction and soon the boat was his!

But, of course it would need a final coat or two of varnish, so it was back to the Wooden Boat Centre for a little more loving, while Gerhard sorted out a  a very sturdy twin-axle trailer to transport the boat back to Apollo Bay in Victoria (and yes, the fares on the Spirit of Tasmania can make your eyes water).  Soon, it was ready to go.  But as it happened, the boat and the trailer were a little too much for Gerhard’s car, so he had to go out and buy a new truck to tow it.

Which is the story of how a couple of free logs turned into Seacrest, a Cinderella of a sailboat, ready for the warmer weather and some excited grand-kids to go sailing.

Of course, we are teasing a little.  The project that built the Seacrest was a wonderful example of international cooperation and the community of wooden boats. Gerhard Wilmink is a highly respected skipper and a repeat visitor to the Australian Wooden Boat Festival.  His previous boat, the 50′ rock lobster boat Johanna Cherie, was built by renowned shipwright Gary Stewart at Port Fairy, Victoria.  The Johanna Cherie is still in the industry, operating out of Currie on King Island.  Gerhard and Cherie have become welcome friends in the community at Franklin, Tasmania.  Many thanks to photographers Rob Oates, Daryl Peebles and Barbara Murphy for their contributions.