This is an unusual year for us, with two festivals to produce in the next ten months, the Australian Antarctic Festival in September and the Australian Wooden Boat Festival in February 2017. You might ask what Antarctica has to do with wooden boats and why the AWBF is involved in producing another free public event here in Hobart. The answer is that we were approached by the Mawson’s Huts Foundation for help in producing the festival, a celebration of the large Antarctic community resident here in Tasmania. Australia plays a leading role in the Antarctic, with a territorial claim to 42% of the landmass on the frozen continent, and we have a long history of exploration and research there. The first Australian Antarctic expedition, led by geologist Douglas Mawson, sailed south in the wooden steam yacht Aurora, built in Dundee, Scotland. The ship was massively built of oak, with steel plate armour in the bow. This proved very useful in an environment crowded with icebergs and rocky landfalls.
The Australian Antarctic Festival will feature a full program of events and, similar to the AWBF, takes place over four days on the Hobart waterfront. Visitors can expect to see Antarctic equipment and meet expeditioners, tour the icebreaker Aurora Australis, learn about the science done in the Antarctic and even meet a team of live huskies pulling a vintage Antarctic sled along Franklin Wharf. With a film festival, Antarctic Expo in Princes Wharf One and a gala fundraising dinner at the Hotel Grand Chancellor. It’s an event not to be missed for anyone with an interest in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.
Plans for the AWBF 2017 are shaping up well and we’re in the final stages of planning the Dutch presence, in honour of the 375th anniversary of Abel Tasman’s visit in 1642. With the support of the Dutch Embassy in Canberra, the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery will present a small display in December of this year and a major exhibition during the Wooden Boat Festival in 2017. We’ll see very rare and beautiful items from the National Archives of the Netherlands and the famous Scheepvaartmuseum (Dutch National Maritime Museum) in Amsterdam, including a facsimile of Abel Tasman’s log book, recording the first European visit to Van Dieman’s Land.
We’ll release more details as the time approaches, but you can be confident that the Australian Wooden Boat Festival will deliver an even more exciting mix of entertainment, information, activities and fun in 2017.