Message from the Chairman – November/December 2018

Whilst the countdown to the MyState Bank Australian Wooden Boat Festival in 2019 is certainly on, I would like to pause to reflect for a moment on some of the extraordinary effort and support that goes into producing this wonderful event.  Our management team, headed up by General Manager Paul Cullen, now has “all hands on deck”; our huge group of volunteers continue to register; and hundreds of people have been booked, organised, registered or contracted to undertake a flurry of work to construct the festival site, and then deconstruct it after the event.  We have to build and then demolish a small town within a matter of a few days either side of the festival!

All of this depends upon the incredible enthusiasm of these people, but the event simply couldn’t occur without the generosity of our wonderful sponsors.  Our major financial support is of course the Government of Tasmania through Events Tasmania; the financial contribution of the government is significant, and is primarily responsible for enabling us to conduct the event without having to charge an entry fee.  Our relationship with the government has lasted now from many years, and I am confident it will continue for many years to come; I would also like to thank the Premier and Minister for Tourism, the Honourable Will Hodgman, for his personal support of, and interest in, our event and organisation, along with the manager of Events Tasmania, Adam Sproule.

Our naming rights sponsor, MyState Bank, has also provided a significant contribution. It is a great thing that a major Tasmanian institution such as MySate provides such significant financial support to a community event like ours.  As our largest private sector supporter, I would specifically like to thank MyState, its board, and its management team, for their help and support; and I would encourage all festival supporters to support MyState in turn!

Our other major sponsors include the City of Hobart, and TasPorts.  We depend on both – particularly TasPorts – for the use of the port and surrounding areas, either owned or controlled by these organisations.  Both TasPorts and the City of Hobart provide willing and cheerful assistance and contribute greatly to our event, and also provide, in the case of the City, significant financial support.

Blundstone is another Tasmanian company synonymous with the “Tasmanian brand” and is also a great supporter of our event.  Of course, boat owners and their crews all require work wear to undertake work on their boats whilst they are slipped – and most, if not all, would wear Blundstone boots for that purpose!

We also get great support from Dobson Mitchell Allport, Lawyers.  This practice, one of the largest in Tasmania, has been in operation since 1834.  It was therefore a business which had been operating for 68 years when this country was formed!  The support we get from this practice is tremendous, and much appreciated.  We also receive significant support from the Allport Bequest, for the benefit of the citizens of Hobart.  Again, an acknowledgement of this wonderful organisation.

And of course, wooden boats are not just for leisure and play – they are also wonderful things for work and industry.  Tasmania has many beautiful wooden fishing boats in its fishing fleet, and we also receive great support from the Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council. Again, a big thanks from us at AWBF!

We have a number of other sponsors, and I would urge readers to review our website, and to pause a moment to consider the important contribution these businesses and organisations provide to our organisation, and to the MyState Bank Australian Wooden Boat Festival.  For the first time, this festival is budgeted to exceed $1.5 million to produce, and without the support of our sponsors, the event would not occur, or at least be what it is.  Please support and thank them!  (and please, if there is a business, organisation or an individual out there who would like to help support us, please get in touch – it is an expensive business to host a festival such as ours, and your contribution would be very much appreciated!)

On another note, our first American boatbuilders have arrived and have headed to Franklin, where construction is about to start on a beautiful dinghy to a USA design, constructed of Tasmanian Hydrowood.  We are expecting a significant number of attendees from the USA to our festival, and of course there are two containers of American vessels on their way to Hobart. What a wonderful contribution all of this will make!

I always enjoy watching festival attendees sidle up to a wooden boat on land, where they can look at it at close quarters, touch it, feel it, and “smell” the boat – particularly varnished timber exposed to seawater!  These boats make a wonderful contribution to our event and demonstrate the extraordinary skills of many of our local boat builders and artisans.

One of the biggest “boats on land” that we have ever had will be Mistral II, an early Sydney to Hobart yacht race participant. This 64’ vessel has just been donated to the Windward Bound Trust, and I am sure Captain Sarah Parry, and her crew and supporters, will soon have her looking “shipshape and Bristol fashion”! However, in the meantime, the placement of Mistral IIon dry land will enable visitors to the festival to look at the hull of a large wooden boat out of the water, and to appreciate the design of the vessel, the way in which her hull has been constructed, and to see all of the bits that are generally underwater!

Finally, as we all head towards the final part of the year, I would like to wish everybody a very healthy, happy and safe Christmas, and a wonderful New Year.  I look forward to seeing all of you at the 2019 MyState Bank Australian Wooden Boat Festival!


Steve Knight


Australian Wooden Boat Festival, Inc.


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