Words and photos: Linda Nathan, Wood Review editor
Heading down from Brisbane on February 10, 2017 to the biggest maritime festival in the southern hemisphere I started to feel Iike I was definitely caught up in a current with quite a few others.
Couples in tropical shirts, shorts and flowing sun dresses, mostly grey haired it has to be said, were populating the airport gate lounges I was waiting about in. Holiday time in the sun was the vibe, and maybe I was just projecting a vision of the 220,000 crowd of people I would soon be seeing on the Hobart waterfront.
Since 1994, the Australian Wooden Boat Festival has biannually delighted crowds of boat loving people. There were many ways to be involved. You could register your boat and display it on the various dockside areas that run between Salamanca Place and Hunter Street. You could participate in regattas and parades of sail, or sign up for tall ship cruises. You could see demonstrations of boatbuilding and other artisan skills. Or you could simply just wander through the marinas and marvel at the diversity of the various boats afloat, and swap notes with like-minded others while soaking up the festival atmosphere.
The setting is idyllic. The Port of Hobart is situated on the mouth of the Derwent River. With minimal hi-rise in the adjacent CBD, there are open vistas of water and rolling hills to enjoy. The waterfront area is redolent with the history of an island state. Parliament House, Mawson’s Hut, the Maritime Museum of Tasmania, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery are all within walking distance of Sullivan’s Cove, the marinas and docks.
Add to all this the interest of nearby galleries and restaurants to the festival fun of street food, buskers and entertainment programs, and it’s small wonder that this maritime festival has achieved an international reputation as the place to flock to once every two years.
Some snaps of the festival can be seen in the gallery above, while the June issue of Wood Review will detail more of the action.