Happy Campers!

American boatbuilders from the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building, Port Townsend, Washington. © Rachael Green | BALLANTYNE Photography

“Epic.” “Beyond compare.” “Will live with me forever.”

Superlatives for wooden boat events may at times seem hyperbolic, but not this year and not in the context or experience of American participants—90% of whom made their first trip to Australia—at the 2019 Australian Wooden Boat Festival. The world-class reputation of this event is by all accounts, true. Tasmania, and Australians in general, left hugely positive impressions, too. The long trip is worth it. We can all say with a smile, “S’truth mate!”

As colleagues this year, our greatest achievement was not just achieving larger numbers of USA attendance, providing highly successful tourism experiences, or getting higher media bumps during the year and event—though we did (all) that. It was our success diversifying the market niche appeal and laying the foundation for years of exchange—industry, tourism, education, research, artistic endeavours—between our two countries.

We friend-raised rather than fund-raised, focused on the long-term sustainability of AWBF’s many participants (owners, exhibitors, builders, educators) and toward year-round, off-year travel opportunities to Tasmania and Australia.

  • Kaci Cronkhite – US author, journalist and circumnavigator 

No-one is immune to praise and we have been enjoying some wonderful reviews and comments from many different quarters, following the 2019 MyState Bank Australian Wooden Boat Festival.  We are still analysing the statistics, but real-time reports from traders and stallholders indicate that in terms of attendance, 2019 was at least as busy as 2017, if not more so.  That means 200,000+ visitors over four days, with a significantly increased contingent from the USA as our ‘Featured Nation’.  There were some fantastic exchanges between American boat builders, craftspeople, academics and designers and their Australian counterparts.  The warm glow of new friendships was everywhere to be seen and many will last the test of time.

On the home front, we had wonderful feedback from many people, including exhibitors, boat owners, interstate visitors and the general public:

Judy Field I’m a local Hobart resident and this year’s event was amazing! I went every day and most nights at the Tavern. Well done for organising an amazing celebration on our amazing waterfront.

Stu Beltz A huge personal thanks to you all for bringing a dream alive for us – to recognise the boat building history of our own Ron Beltz. The 2019 AWBF was a wonderful event, and to the hard working organisers and wonderfully patient volunteers thanks to you and congratulations on a truly special event! We will be back!

Michael Laing You should be smiling and proud. You have presented a fantastic event. I came 2.5 days and had a ball. The boats were magnificent. The display was awesome!! The entertainment was also great. Food was excellent and not over priced. Small or large, land based or floating, boats magnificent in every way. Even no queues at the toilets!! Well spaced out. Something for everyone. Yes, thank you for the work to put this on. Can’t wait until 2021!! 

Traditional rope-making on the Festival site – © Robert Stewart | BALLANTYNE Photography

Abigail Heard I came all the way from Douarnenez, France for your festival and I loved it. Very friendly people in Hobart and not too hot like the rest of Australia. My only regret was being jetlagged and only there for 5 days – not enough time to see the rest of Tassie. Next time maybe?

Marypin South American Food. A message to the wonderful organisers of the Australian Wooden Boat Festival with my stall.  It was great event for us, and I would like to extend our thanks to the whole organisation this year, from organising bump-in times to the festival to all the little details done to make a very smooth event -we did really well and will be more than happy to be part of this event next time around. Congratulations for the wonderful workers all around the event.

Peter McGee I hardly noticed how well organised the festival was by your team of volunteers. I don’t think I could pay them a higher compliment. Once again, the seamless organisation provided the great visitor experience the festival is so well know for. Tasmania is in their debt.

Sharing hospitality at the TSIC Seafood Theatre – © Galina Romalis | BALLANTYNE Photography

Christie Strike Was so wonderful thank you so much to all organisers and volunteers, everyone we met was smiling from ear to ear, such an amazing event.

My best guess was 62 boats (stayed with us for the Festival)…average stay 5-7 days, although some are still here and their stay exceeds two months! Number of people per boat, average 3 or 4, plus some fly in visitors for the Festival. Contractors recommended and used included diesel mechanics, refrigeration mechanics, hire cars, upholsterers, sailmakers, hydraulic engineers, electricians, instrument fitters, riggers, – estimate 25% – 33% of boats required (these services).

  • David Kirkland, Manager, Prince of Wales Bay Marina

feature photo of Tetsuya Wakuda – (c) Simon Whittaker/Ballantyne Photography

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