The Spectacular Australian Wooden Boat Festival 2023
Image courtesy Hype TV and Alistair Bett
The iconic biennial Australian Wooden Boat Festival is one of those events which has become an integral part of the Tasmanian events calendar. As the Festival Director of the AWBF, Paul Stephanus said, “The Australian Wooden Boat Festival amplifies the identity of Tasmania and Tasmanians in a way that no other event does.”
This year's event was held over four days at Hobart’s waterfront. Salamanca becomes host to 450 boats and tens of thousands of visitors from across Australia, and the world. The Australian Wooden Boat Festival is the “largest celebration of wooden boats and maritime culture in the Southern Hemisphere” (AWBF 2022).
Image Courtesy AWBF
During the festival we enjoyed our day out on the James Craig, during the Parade of Sail. James Craig is a three-masted Tall Ship, the largest in Australia, it came down from Sydney, especially for the Wooden Boat Festival. Although the weather started off uncertain, it improved by the start of the parade. It was truly a wonderful experience seeing how it had been beautifully restored at the cost of $30,000,000 over a period of 28 years by volunteers.
We enjoyed eating, chatting with the crew, and seeing how such a large team of volunteers works together to sail this majestic ship. The setting of all the massive sails was a real team effort with crewmembers, of all ages working together and climbing dizzy heights. Moreover, it was totally unexpected to see a lone Piper playing his bagpipes on a platform amidst the sails. What an awesome experience!
When the Wooden Boat Festival returns in 2025, we hope to enjoy the same caliber which this event has been renowned for. There is plenty to see and do, even if you’re not a boat person! This year's event had many exciting activities such as expert “talks, exhibitions, films, music, demonstrations, and family-friendly activities” (AWBF 2023).
To encapsulate why we loved this event so much, we have taken these lovely words from Paul Stephanus;
“You can spend a whole day with a single boat owner, revel in their adventures of the sea, inspect the hidden nooks of their vessel, delve into the history of the boat’s design and construction. Each boat is its own vast library of fairy tales, technical manuals, and adventure novels. Multiply that by the 450 boats and you have the starting point for our festival.”
Click here to watch the Wooden Boat Festival 2023 video (credit AWBF).