The Australian Wooden Boat Festival, Tasmania’s Warm Embrace

December 16, 2015

The Australian Wooden Boat Festival in “Tassie” is remarkable for its size, the quality of its boats, and the beauty of its location. But what will keep bringing us back is the warm hearts and generous humor of its people.

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The Australian Wooden Boat Festival

Ned Trewartha

Driftwater Fly Fishing and Accomadations


For a more complete historical perspective of Tasmania from Steve Stone:

Tasmania & the Australian Wooden Boat Festival 

From Off Center Harbor Guide Kaci Cronkhite:

Wooden Boats from Tasmania, Part 1

Wooden Boats from Tasmania, Part 2: Rescuing the 8-Meter VARG

Wooden Boats from Tasmania, Part 3: Day Tripping North, then West


Joe Shemesh

Doug Thost (timelapse)


Australian Wooden Boat Festival


Laura Hill

Julien DeVerainne


All Off Center Harbor Tasmania Videos

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– [Narrator] It’s easy for us in the Northern Hemisphere you know to think of Europe and the East Coast of the U.S. as the spot as far as wooden boats and classic boats are concerned. So when we started hearing about the Australian Wooden Boat Festival it kind of came as a surprise, especially when we heard it was one of the largest festivals in the world for wooden boats. Yeah, so we started looking into it where was it in Australia. And it was in Tasmania, well where’s Tasmania Lee? Tasmania’s a separate island state off the coast of Australia, separated by the Bass Strait. This is, this is one short hop from Antarctica how could a huge wooden boat festival be in such a remote location. This is an island centered initially around whaling and fishing. Then when you start looking at the terrain it’s rugged, and the water is cold, and the weather is intense. The island of Tasmania was covered with fantastic wood for boat building. The combination of these conditions has created, you know, generations of sailors. Real sailors, and bred a culture of self-reliance. It’s a wild place. And for sailors today, the southern coast of the island is known as one of the world’s great cruising grounds. And all of a sudden all of this maritime culture descends upon the cosmopolitan Port of Hobart in a day from other places in Australia and New Zealand, and internationally and it’s not easy to get there. I mean that, that strait to come across there is rough. The docks fill up, and the festival is on. Imagine over 500 boats on display most of which you can get on board, talk to the owners, the people are welcoming and friendly and there’s music playing and kids are having fun. And 220,000 people walking through and checking it all out. There’s tall ships, there’s tiny boats, power boats, sail boats, there’s cuda boats, pinors ponts, there’s yachts, there’s working boats, all kinds of boats. And every boat has a story. Cuda boat is one example. Cuda boats were great Australian fishing boats and they pretty much completely died, and they were all gone, except a boat builder in Southeast Australia picked up a couple and fixed them up and then they started winning races and everybody figured out, wow, these are great boats. The boats are fantastic, but really it’s the hospitality and the people that are just phenomenal. The Aussie hospitality is legendary, and it’s there in force. ♫ When the moon is covered in clover ♫ And the stars are a lazy shade of pale ♫

– There was no better example of the hospitality of Australians than Gypsy. Some of these guys have been sailing together on this 100 year old yawl for decades. But they welcomed me aboard for an afternoon sail, handed me a beer, it was as if I was one of the crew.

– There’s just years and years and years of history. We’ve had a lot of, that’s what I was just mentioning.

– An office in the harbor member steered us to Ned Trewartha, just a guy building beautiful boats in a very humble shop, who’s the real deal. Tasmania is known to have one of the best fisheries in the world for fly fishing. So I was, I was hoping to go fly fishing, and sure enough at the festival there was a drift boat. Ten minutes later I had booked 2 days fishing in the Northern Islands with Peter and Karen at Driftwater. Again, just the hospitality is, was pretty incredible, I felt at home in a place I’d never been. ♫ Embrace, your embrace, ♫ your embrace, your embrace ♫ ♫ How I would like to, ♫ I’m going to fill your empty space ♫ Over and over, your embrace ♫ Going over warm embrace ♫ When the moon is covered in clover ♫ And the stars are a lazy shade of pale ♫ They don’t shine quite like they used to ♫ No one told me there’d be so much space ♫ No one told me there’d be so much space ♫ No one told me there’d be so much space ♫ Won me over with your warm ♫

– So the festival’s early February you really got to go for a month, so just, just plan on booking the whole month of February for Tasmania.

– Thanks guys.


13 Responses So Far to “The Australian Wooden Boat Festival, Tasmania’s Warm Embrace”:

  1. Avatar Robert Kunzig says:

    Wow – open my heart and the beauty that is the wonder of the world steps in, once again!
    Super time lapse footage etc.etc. Thank you OCH, your work (can you even call it that) enriches my soul.

  2. Avatar Randall Colker says:

    Great video. Been to several wooden boat festivals around the US, and Hobart was the best I’ve been to. I’m in love with the young lady and her haunting voice on the video. Ordered her CD. Can’t wait to get it

  3. Avatar David Butcher says:

    Greeting from the Uk where I sail on the south coast – Solent Cowes West Country in my 1962 Buchanan Vashti 39’ wooden ocean racer converted to crushing. I love your site and wish you all well – getting ready for winter maintenance here. Thought you might like the attached pic of us rounding the needles – heavy going!!!
    How do I send you a pic?

  4. Avatar Bob Thornberry says:

    I absolutely love your video on the Tasmanian wooden boat festival! I never knew it existed! Thank’s so much for bringing this to light!

  5. Avatar Clint Chase says:

    Have to go, have to…

  6. Avatar William Mangum says:

    Absolutely amazing place! Wish I could be there!

  7. Avatar Bert van Baar says:

    Nice video. I might see this happening: going to build a wooden boat with 6 boatbuilding students from Amsterdam & Rotterdam, Netherlands, this “winter” in Franklin, Tasmania.
    It will be a sort of a “Dutch” gift from Holland (The Tassies wil pay for most of the materials!). This will take place because of the Abel Tasman year: 375 years ago he ‘discovered’ the beautiful island and named it: Van Diemens Land but the Dutch did not do anything with it, otherwise the Tassies would have spoken Dutch! The British took it and eventually gave it her new name: Tasmania!
    We are planning building an old 16m2 in a wood core manner as a link between then and now. Dutch Design we wanted it to be.
    If you are planning to come to Tasmania, just hop by for a quick look!
    We’ll be there from 5/12/2016 till 15/3/2017 and after that maybe a small summer holiday
    in our winter!

  8. […] Organisers say they are delighted to see the festival gaining an international reputation.  Steve Stone, a professional film maker from Maine, USA was a guest at the 2015 event and has produced a heart-warming portrait of Hobart with his short film ‘Tasmania’s Warm Embrace’.  AWBF fans can see the video using this link:  Off Center Harbor […]

  9. Avatar Brian Hollars says:

    Stunning glimpse into a spectacular place!

    Thanks for sharing!

  10. Avatar Judie Romeo says:

    Just beautiful!

  11. David Tew David Tew says:

    My daughter lived in Hobart for a year, 2002-3. She worked at the festival and sent us photos of the boats and people. What a great event and spectacle!

  12. Avatar Nigel Lawrence says:

    a lovely homage to both Tasmania and the Wooden Boat Festival, Steve. The wood. The boats. The people. The craftsmen.

    And only a little more than twelve months until the next festival!

    Can’t wait to see more of the footage from the festival itself, and some of the 500+ boats that attended.

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