The Tao of Woodcraft



photo: Doug Thost

Among the woodcraft luminaries coming to the Australia Wooden Boat Festival in 2019, the latest to confirm is Jim Tolpin, an acclaimed woodworker, teacher and author who has published a dozen books and sold 750,000 copies world-wide. Jim is co-founder of the Port Townsend School of Wooodworking and a member of that thriving community of shipwrights, sail makers, artisans and craftspeople in the Pacific Northwest. Jim takes a naturalistic, reflective approach to shaping wood to a purpose and his beautifully crafted projects are a joy to the eye.

photo: Doug Thost

The connection to Tasmania and the Australian Wooden Boat Festival is clear – our island state is home to some of Australia’s finest boat builders, restorers and furniture makers, and to quality centres of learning including the School of Architecture and Design at the University of Tasmania, Alex Jerrim’s Wisdom Through Wood south of Hobart and the Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin. Coupled with a long history of heritage skills and craftsmanship, Tasmania has a great deal in common with North American centres of excellence like Port Townsend.

Australian bush joinery at the AWBF with Alex Jerrim

The Australian Wooden Boat Festival (AWBF) is committed to preserving traditional wooden boat building and to passing on the skills that make it possible. Even for the amateur enthusiast, there will be a feast of woodcraft on the program at AWBF 2019. And best of all, these presentations are entirely free to the public. Stay in touch through the AWBF news blog to get the earliest news of what you can see and do at the festival, February 8-11, 2019.

STV Tenacious Departs for UK

The Australian Wooden Boat Festival was delighted to host a visit from the sail training vessel Tenacious during the 2017 festival in Hobart.  This remarkable craft, the largest wooden hulled ship actively sailing in the world, is even more remarkable for being adapted for disabled sailors.  With amazing features like a speaking compass, internals lifts and the capacity to get wheelchairs up into the rigging, this is not just a great ship, but a great project and we take our hats off to them.  Tenacious was with us as part of the Jubilee Sailing Trust Australia/New Zealand sailing schedule for 2017.

Thank You from the Jubilee Sailing Trust

We understand that the ship will not be able to make the 2019 festival, but we hold high hopes that she will be able to join us again in 2021. The JST has rated their Southern Hemisphere program a great success and promises that the Austral summer schedule will be repeated in coming years.  That’s good news for sailors of all abilities, as Australia has no similarly equipped ship of its own.

Jubilee Video: Sea Change

The JST recently released a remarkable video, Sea Change, which vividly depicts the life-changing experience for many people living with a disability that the ship (and its sister ship Lord Nelson) can provide. Founded as a Queen’s Silver Jubilee project in the UK, the unheard-of plan was to build a fully-rigged ocean going ship adapted to allow disabled and able-bodied crew to work together as equals.  This has proved to be true for both groups, blending as they have into a single crew over the space of an ocean passage.  The two JST ships have now travelled tens of thousands of sea miles and circumnavigated the globe.

You can learn more about the JST, book your own ocean-going adventure or support the foundation by logging on to their website at

AWBF applauds the Jubilee Sailing Trust and wishes Tenacious a safe and successful voyage home.



‘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:

And at our website