Australian National Maritime Museum Supports Symposium

Chris Palmer (l.) and Steve Knight (r.) visit the Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney

Chairman Steve Knight and board member Chris Palmer were in Sydney recently for a visit to the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM).  They met with Museum director Kevin Sumption to discuss the organisation’s continuing support for the International Wooden Boat Symposium.  The symposium will be presented in Hobart as part of AWBF 2019, from 9-10 February.  Convenor Mike Ponsonby is assembling a stellar cast of presenters from Tasmania, mainland Australia and overseas. A notable catch just confirmed is Jon Wilson, founder of the internationally-regarded magazine WoodenBoat.  Since 1974, Jon has been a leader in the movement that recognises the construction and restoration of wooden boats as deeply meaningful to many people around the world.

‘The Australian National Maritime Museum’s support for the Symposium makes it possible for us to bring profoundly influential designers, authors, sailors and speakers to Hobart during the AWBF,’ said festival general manager Paul Cullen. ‘Without their commitment, and that of the University of Tasmania, we could not afford to present these outstanding talents in one place.  The Symposium contributes to the essential backbone of the event – our belief that the culture of wooden boats is important and deserves to be acknowledged and preserved.  That we can offer the Symposium as a free public event is just fabulous and we mean to keep it that way for as long as we can’.

Steve gets ‘hands-on’ with the heavy machinery

The ANMM sponsorship not only provides for bringing overseas visitors to Australia, but the museum also supplies some of the leading experts in the world in maritime archaeology, history, Aboriginal watercraft and other fields as speakers.

While in Sydney, Steve and Chris were treated to an escorted tour of the site, including a special visit to two historic vessels awaiting restoration, the steam tug Waratah (1902)and the ex-Sydney ferry Kanangra(1912).  They reported that the scale of the machinery in these two vessels, and the enormous task of restoring them made it clear why Australia needs a national maritime museum to preserve these magnificent ships.

Awaiting restoration: 1912 Sydney ferry Kanangra and 1902 steam tug Waratah

Editor’s Note:

Our thanks to Alan Stannard for the following correction to this article –

The name of the site undertaken as a tour is the Sydney Heritage Fleet Shipyard, operated by the Sydney Heritage Fleet at Rozelle Bay, Port Jackson.  Of the two vessels shown, only the Kanangra awaits restoration. The other, Waratah, has just finished her annual refit and has since returned to service as a registered commercial vessel.

Most of the work undertaken at the SHF shipyard to service and repair the other “Fleet” vessels is carried out by Fleet volunteers. I commend you and other readers to the web site of the Sydney Heritage Fleet, to visit the SHF at Wharf 7, Pyrmont and the Shipyard at Rozelle Bay on a Tue, Thur or Sat.

Vale Meade Gougeon

Farewell to our respected friend Meade Gougeon, who passed away peacefully at his home, surrounded by his family, on Sunday, August 27, 2017.

“I’ve been involved in wooden boat festivals for quite a long time now, including about 15 years of running the skills demonstrations at the WoodenBoat Show in Mystic, Connecticut. I’ve been to Brest twice, and I’ve been attending the Port Townsend festival since 1979, plus numerous other shows and festivals here and there. In general, I would say the Hobart festival stacks up most favorably against the best of them. I saw American and European designers represented from the early 20th century right up to now, in staggering variety, with no one influence dominating. That is a great, great strength of the Hobart festival, and I believe the International Wooden Boat Symposium reinforces it.“ Meade Gougeon (USA) leading sailor and designer

In 2017, Meade became the first Honorary Life Member of the Australian Wooden Boat Festival Inc. as a mark of our respect and gratitude for his encouragement and support. In 2015, at the age of 76, Meade travelled all the way from his home in Bay City, Michigan to Hobart to attend the Festival. He was the keynote speaker at the International Wooden Boat Symposium that year and delighted everyone he met with his undiminished enthusiasm for wood as a high-tech building material and for the international world of wooden boat design.

Meade, with his brothers Joel and Jan, founded the company that pioneered the use of epoxy glues and laminate timber for building boats in 1969. Their radical composite structures brought elegant boat construction within the reach of thousands of owners who could not afford the traditional service of professional shipwrights. Meade was an avid and successful sailor, on the water and on the frozen surface of the North American lakes. He co-authored The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction, which has remained a standard reference book since it was first published in 1979. The West System is the well-known brand of the employee-owned company that continues to supply innovative products to the professional and amateur boat builder.

‘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