Management Committee Newsletter - October 2017

3333 Huon Highway, FRANKLIN Tas 7113

Owned and operated by the Franklin Working Waterfront Association Inc


Management Committee

President:  Alan Cato (

Vice President 1:  Graham Rankin (

Treasurer:  Sonia Shimeld (

Secretary:  Neil Purdom (

Public Officer:  Helen Gasparinatos (

Ordinary committee members:

1.      Garry Parker (

2.      Julie Hinks (

3.      Mike Johnson (

Wooden Boat Centre Manager:  Anne Holst (

Newsletter editor:  Alan Cato



It is with pleasure that we welcome Garry Parker, Julie Hinks and Mike Johnson to the Management Committee. We also welcome Graham Rankin into the role of Vice President. All these have an intimate knowledge of the Wooden Boat Centre as they have all been involved with the Centre for some time, either as volunteers or as an instructor. As such they have already made a significant major contribution to the running of the Centre.




Garry Parker

 Garry began his involvement in community organisations as Treasurer of a local astronomical society and later as Treasurer of a golf club in a small country town. He was employed as an assistant accountant at an abattoir (which employed up to 620 people during peak periods of production) before being appointed as manager of a cooperative of orchardists responsible for the refrigerated storage of

10,000 tonnes of shareholders’ pole fruits. For the last 15 years of his working life Garry was a high school Mathematics teacher in both NSW and Qld before retiring to the Huon Valley.


Julie Hinks

 Julie (Smythe) has had an interesting, challenging and exciting life, prior to becoming a volunteer at the WBC. As a wife and mother she accompanied her husband, a Naval officer – Pilot on postings throughout Australia as well as a diplomatic posting to Japan where he was the Assistant Defence Attaché in the Australian Embassy. After the breakdown of her marriage she moved with her five children to the Gold Coast to be close to grandparents. From 1988 – 2004 Julie was General Manager of AWB White Wedding and AWB Photo and Film Company – which arranged weddings for Japanese honeymooners. They had offices in Sydney, Gold Coast and Cairns in Australia, Christchurch and Queenstown in New Zealand and bridal salons in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka in Japan. The company built Barrier Reef Church in Cairns, Our Lady on the Sea, a floating church on the Gold Coast, and restored St Margaret’s Church on the Gold Coast. A fleet of vintage and classic Rolls Royces was obtained. In 1993 the business was the fastest growing private company in Australia. They also had offices at Coolangatta airport (where they kept their two helicopters and a twelve seat aircraft) as well as a horse stud in New Zealand.


Julie has also been very successful with her own Knitwit Sewing store (1984 – 1986) and Julie Hinks Sewing Studio (2004- 2014). She has been at various times Secretary and or President of assorted school committees as well as The Gold Coast Bush Walkers Club. She was on the Board of Management of the Gold Coast Family Support Group as well as the Board of Top State Queensland and was Treasurer of the Gold Coast Media club. Julie is looking forward to being involved with FWWA.


Mike Johnson

Mike loves messing around with boats and wood. As a 16 year-old he built a pram dinghy and restored an old clinker dinghy about 20 years ago. Mike spent 30 years working at Telstra in material management. His last position was as Logistics Team Leader, managing stores and staff in Tasmania. After a period working with IBM Global Logistics, he had a variety of jobs, then two years at Inland Fisheries as a Technical Officer.


In 2013 Mike fulfilled a long held dream and completed the seven-week clinker dinghy course at the Wooden Boat Centre with Peter Laidlaw as instructor. After the course, Andy Gamlin offered him some work at the WBC, which eventually evolved into his current position as a boatbuilding instructor. That means Mike has been the committee member with the longest history at the WBC.



At the Annual General Meeting, there was a recommendation from the Management Committee that annual subscriptions remain at $10. It was suggested that rather than increase membership fees, it would be preferable if members could add a $10 cash donation (or whatever they could afford) with their annual $10 subscription (as the WBC does not have to pay GST on donations).





It had been the intention to celebrate the WBC ownership anniversary, but with so many events planned for October, a suitable date has so far eluded us. We are now aiming for a low-key celebration on Sunday the 22nd October, at around 3:30pm. Readers are asked to watch this space for further details. It will be in the form of an afternoon tea at the Centre (with a celebratory drink and birthday cake), with all friends of FWWA, WBC, LBT and their families welcome, as befitting our community organisation.


To that end, this newsletter relays a history of the Wooden Boat School/Centre, from its beginnings at Shipwright’s Point. This has been generously provided by Ruth and John Young, who had the vision and determination to create this iconic institution.


Shipwright's Point School of Wooden Boatbuilding began in August 1991, as a business partnership between John and Ruth Young at the boatshed and slipway formerly owned by Athol Walter at Shipwright's Point. At that time there were very few wooden boat builders offering apprenticeships, with the likely outcome that traditional wooden boatbuilding would not continue as a skill into the next generation. The original intention behind the School was to keep those skills alive by hiring existing boat builders to teach short courses in aspects of the trade, with the ultimate aim of devising an accredited course in wooden boatbuilding for professional boat builders.


Athol Walter built about 50 boats in the shed and it was hard for him to leave it, so he turned up every few days and so did all his old mates from Port Huon and his family, who came because they always used to and nothing much changed there, except everyone stayed longer because of the newly installed wood heater.  There was a happy atmosphere.  Many Port Huon people helped with information, introductions, conflicting advice and physical labour, helping to repair the slipways. 


The School advertised a programme of short courses early in 1992, including a "Build Your own Clinker Dinghy" course, with Adrian Dean as the teacher.  As the Shipwright's Point shed was being used for a Skillshare course in clinker dinghy building, the School rented part of the Port Huon Wharf shed, owned by the Marine Board of Hobart, for the "Build Your Own" course.  It was a freezing place.  The only warm thing there was someone's dog, who was the subject of endless and inexplicable (to him) hugs and cuddles. The six boats built at the wharf shed were later launched together in Franklin, behind what is now Petty Sessions restaurant, at a joyful mini wooden boat Festival which included rowing, sailing and swimming races.


By the middle of 1993, after several attempts, it became clear that expansion of the School at Shipwright's Point was impossible. Part of Athol's shed had been built on his freehold land, part on a Crown lease and most of the back corner was nestled on land belonging to the neighbour, Don Fairless.  The space around the shed was territory whose ownership was a matter of dispute between the Shipwright's Point Regatta Association and Esperance Council. If a professional course was to be offered, the School needed additional and larger facilities. In Franklin on the other hand, Crown Land was available for lease on the western side of the Huon River, south of Price's Creek, formerly the site of Peacock's jam factory. 


The School leased this land and purchased a large wooden shed, the welding shed at the Hydro town of Tarraleah. The shed was carefully dismantled at Tarraleah by a 21-year old and transported in sections to Franklin. While this shed was being re-erected, short courses continued at Shipwright's Point and a Diploma in Wooden Boatbuilding course was devised. The course was finally accredited nationally after a year of writing, discussions, revisions and consultation with wooden boat builders and the Tasmanian education authorities. One copy of the hand-signed curriculum was available for public perusal the day before the School's big chance to recruit students for the first Australian Diploma in Wooden Boatbuilding, at the first Australian Wooden Boat Festival, held in Hobart in November 1994.


The 1995-6 Diploma course began in Franklin with a group of eight very different students, one of whom was American, which involved a whole new and panic stricken process of applying to the Federal Government for registration as a provider of education to overseas students. Franklin people were very supportive of the School and gradually began to join in the BBQs the students insisted on having every Friday night.  The Shipwright's Point shed and particularly the slipway, enabled the School to provide Diploma students with an array of repair work on boats of different sizes and continued in use for recreational courses. Students built five boats during the course, learning boat design, clinker, carvel and hard chine construction in the process. Their final project, the 30 footer Lady Franklin, designed by New Zealander H.E. Cox, was launched by crane from Franklin wharf behind the Evaporators at the end of 1996. In spite of the fact that Peter Laidlaw played his bagpipes (he hadn't played for a while), the launch attracted hundreds of people from the Huon Valley and elsewhere.


Although the School rarely advertised, it was inundated with visitors from all over the world, many of who spread the word by mouth. Many photographers and journalists began to take an interest and write articles about their visits to the School in an array of magazines.  When applications opened for the 1997-8 Diploma course, there were far too many to interview, let alone accept.  Nine students from WA, SA, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Japan began their course in February 1997.  By 1999, two women were accepted as students and there were more than a hundred people on a waiting list for the next course. The tourism potential of the School was immense, but difficult to manage whilst students were working towards a professional qualification. A mezzanine floor was added, with an external stairway, so that visitors could view the work as it happened from above, rather than in amongst the students. 


Several of the graduates of the School are still working as wooden boat builders more than 20 years later.  The School's students were all brave and adventurous people, who put their faith, their money and two years of their lives into what was an experimental venture.  In some cases, they and their partners gave up jobs and they were uprooted to live in a small town with few facilities and a low standard of accommodation. In some cases, the students were separated from their families for long periods.  Their course of study was physically and mentally arduous.  But they all made the best of their circumstances.  Many joined Franklin's clubs and associations and worked for Franklin businesses in their holidays. Some of their partners with young children re-started the Franklin Playgroup in the old Courthouse. They injected new life into the town of Franklin, with all its quirks and foibles, contributing as much as they had of skill, community spirit and friendship and Franklin people reciprocated with great kindness. 

The School was sold to Southern Tasmania Employment and Training Solutions (STEPS) at the end of 2000.



WBC Manager’s Report to Franklin Working Waterfront Committee Meeting

12th October 2017



·       Ea finishes up with the Wooden Boat Centre on 20th October. She will concentrate on Yukon for the coming tourist season, which is expanding activities in partnership with Fat Pig Farm.  We wish her (and Captain David) every success with their new and expanding ventures.

·       Dave Nash overseas until 16th October, when Seniors Week begins.

·       Pete Heading is away for a couple of weeks in Queensland enjoying time with family.

·       Pete Laidlaw is working on the rigging and final bits for the Viking boat.

·       Mike Johnson is in preparation for the 2 kayaks build beginning on the 16th October.

·       Jono Vey-Cox will join us in the shed again in the next couple of weeks to do a laid teak deck on a local steamboat.

·       Francis has begun as a woodcarving instructor one day per week for the next 6 weeks.

·       Jen and Julie will split Ea’s role during the busy summer months. Jen will be the main volunteer coordinator with Julie focusing on tourism. Both of them will share the lead role front of house. Jen is already on staff and Julie will join the staff in the next couple of weeks.

·       Thanks to Christina Kent for her work on the Viking Lofting Mural. This project was Ea’s idea and was executed beautifully by Christina.


·       Tourism numbers were down for September. There is no apparent reason for this downturn other than the colder than expected weather for the month.

·       Bookings for Seniors Week are coming in steadily. Nancy is especially popular with this group.

·       We will open on Saturday during Seniors Week and hope to open Saturdays during the peak tourism season – 1st November – 31st March.


·       There are places available in all our courses. 

·       The August Clinker Dinghy course completed last week. David (the boat sponsor) will finish up in the shed this week and build some oars, mast and spars, before he takes his new dinghy back to South Australia.

·       A strip planked kayak course will begin next week to build 2 kayaks.

·       Francis Shepherd’s Wednesday relief carving course began last week. There are places available in this course 10 – 3pm Wednesdays.

Boat builds:

·       The Viking build is very near to completion. Shields are complete, boat cover complete and sail complete. The boat is being rigged and put back together after more oiling and boat builder trials.

·       Mick has moved his dinghy out of the shed now. He spent three weeks sanding and finishing his clinker dinghy with a little advice here and there from the boat builders.

·       Pete Heading’s 2 canoes are complete shells/hulls. Extra work to the gunwales and adding seats will be done on his return in a few weeks. One canoe will then be available for sale through the ‘front of house’.


·       Leshelen work progressing steadily. We are expecting the owner Bruce Hummerston to make a visit for a few weeks later in the month to affect some of the painting and finishing jobs on the boat.

·       The Fazackerly dinghy repair will be completed ready for collection this week. Some fibreglass patching and adding extra flotation is the last job to do.

Asset management:

·       Exit sign batteries tested and changed.

·       The Viking lofting mural was completed and hung at the end of the workshop.


·       Facebook group following 907 currently.

·       We have begun to make use of the web-based news on the WBC web page and worked out how to update the gallery. This now sends out an email based weekly newsletter that also connects to Facebook and twitter. Thanks to Richard Forster for assisting me to link these platforms together.

·       An article about the Viking Boat is in Wooden Boat Magazine October edition.

·       Advertising in Afloat Magazine October edition to seek additional students for the coming year.

·       A 5-minute tourism focused piece on Channel 7 Sydney about the WBC encouraging visitation – not sure the origin of the materials. This was aired Saturday evening 7th October.

·       An article about the Viking lofting Mural – Huon News 28th September.

·       There has been multiple interest in An Old Captivity due to its current listing on Gumtree. We have just sold the fold-up dinghy via Gumtree. This dinghy will feature in a traveling art exhibition with various artists using vessels to feature their work.

·       The launch and showing of “In the Wake of the May Queen” at the State Cinema included good footage of the WBC, Yukon and surrounds.


·       No accidents or incidents.

External interactions/opportunities:

·       Application through the Huon Valley Council Community Grants Program was made to increase our energy efficiency by replacing the ‘front of house’ heat pump as well as installing an opening window and insulation to the upstairs office.

·       Application through the Commonwealth Stronger Communities Program to replace the rusty section of workshop roof; external painting; office roof insulation.


·       We have a need for more tour guide support during the coming busy season. Anything from a single tour around morning or afternoon teatime to half-day or even full-day guiding assistance would be most appreciated. 













Francis Shepherd and his woodworking talents

The dragons head and snakes tail fore and aft figureheads for the viking boat

The dragons head and snakes tail fore and aft figureheads for the viking boat

For someone that has just started carving wood Francis Shepherd's work is amazing.  Actually it's amazing no matter your woodcarving history.  

Francis is currently running a relief carving course on Wednesdays for the next 6 weeks.  Students will learn basic carving techniques while working in Huon Pine.  There are places available in the course.  Please get in touch if you wish to join.  Tuition: $250, materials $25

A pile of wooden fish under construction on Francis' bench.

A pile of wooden fish under construction on Francis' bench.

Another Clinker Dinghy course wraps up

David, the proud boat owner with instructor Mike Johnson

David, the proud boat owner with instructor Mike Johnson

Today is the last day of the seven week Clinker dinghy course that began in August.  Lyndon also contributed to this course, leaving earlier today to get on the road back home to NSW.  I didn't really wait till you left for the photo, Lyndon, but does sort of look that way.  David's friend Duck also contributed to the course and dinghy build whilst visiting for a 2 week period. Again the group have had a lovely time in the shed, honed their woodworking skills and created another beautiful traditional dinghy.  Well done also Mike for charting the course for the student group.

The Wooden Boat Centre Managers Report for last year

WBC Manager’s Report to AGM of Franklin Working Waterfront Association

24th September 2017



·       In the past year we have been able to maintain the employment of our boat builders: David Nash; Pete Laidlaw; Jon Vey-Cox (for most of the year) and our instructor Mike Johnson.

·       Ea Lassen has run the ‘front of house’ effectively with increased visitation and merchandise sales.

·       We have seen a constant level of volunteer support again this year – with some turnover and additions, as is always the case.  This support and diversity of personalities, opinions, story telling and humour makes the rich fabric that is the WBC and reflects the community nature of the organisation.

·       A vital component for the sustainability of our business is the 27 volunteers that work ‘front of house’, as tour guides or as workshop assistants.  Our 2 volunteer Shipwrights – Peter Heading and Adrian Dean have been invaluable in their ongoing support and advice.  We are also pleased to have Mark McBride as our groundsman for another year.

·       Added to the volunteer list are the 10 volunteer committee members on the Franklin Working Waterfront Association that oversee and support our activities.

·       We have changed bookkeepers, with Ninka Koc now assisting us, taking over from Torscha Pearson in November last year.

·       We have also added 2 new part time casual staff – Francis Shepherd for his woodcarving and creative talents and Jen Tubman for her ‘front of house’ assistance.

·       Everyone has again made a fantastic contribution toward making the Wooden Boat Centre what it is – supporting our community near and far and ‘spreading the word’ via tourism.

·       Sadly we have also shared the loss of Greg Guy.  Greg’s support and enthusiasm for all things WBC and maritime has inspired many.


·       We have welcomed 8,179 tourists on guided tours in the past financial year – 2,529 adults; 4554 concession; 184 children and 228 families (assumed to be 4 people).  (See Table 1 for indicative place of origin information).

·       It is estimated that 1/3rd of visitors to the Wooden Boat Centre pay to join a guided tour, putting our tourist visitor numbers at approximately 24,537.  We regularly allow visitors (that we cannot talk into a full tour) to view the discovery area for a small donation, which has increased our donation income for the year.

·       We discontinued the ‘River to Rainforest’ packaged tour.

·       There have been increased group tours by bus throughout the year as well as by water with Coral Expeditions visiting in the summer months.  This is expected to increase incrementally this season. (See Table 2 for group tour numbers).

·       We are currently in consultation with a Chinese tour operator and expect to offer this clientele guided group tours soon.

·       We consistently receive very positive feedback from our visitors on tour completion.

·       Tourism remains our best method of getting our message out – maintaining traditional wooden boatbuilding skills; being an example of an engaged boating community; and offering the opportunity to share that experience through participation in courses.


We have hosted 56 students at the WBC during their training for periods of between 1-12 weeks.  One of our courses (Yukon course) was conducted off site at the Woodbridge slip for a one-week period.


·       In the past year we have run recreational courses in:

o   Clinker dinghy construction x 4 to build 5 dinghies;

o   2 Skin on Frame Kayak courses to build 8 kayaks;

o   1 oars and spars course

o   1 boat design/half model construction course;

o   I course to work on a large vessel – the Yukon Garboard Strakes course;

o   Viking boat course;

o   1 Canadian canoe course;

o   1 strip planked kayak course;

o   1 coastal navigation night course

o   1 Marlin Spike Seamanship night course.

We have continued to host the build of Adrian Dean’s 16’ workboat on Tuesdays.  Adrian instructs 5 volunteer students on this build.

Thanks to the organisation of the Australian Wooden Boat Festival (AWBF) Committee, we hosted the construction of the Dutch BM16 in the December to February period with Bert Van Baar instructing 5 final year Diploma students during their final intern placement.  This vessel was then launched and auctioned by the AWBF, with the boat now residing in Victoria.

We are currently running a Clinker Dinghy course with 3 students.  We have commitments from 7 students for strip planked Kayak, Clinker dinghy and Skin on Frame Kayak courses scheduled to run in the next 6 months.  We are also receiving regular enquiries in relation to the recreational course timetable planned for 2018 and early 2019, hence our courses continue to be in demand.

The development of accredited training course material and partnership negotiation with TasTAFE is ongoing.  It is expected that accredited training courses will be offered early in 2018.

Boat builds:

·       Through our recreational courses we have built 5 clinker dinghies; 8 skin on frame kayaks; 1 strip planked kayak; 4 half models; 1 set of oars; 1 Viking replica boat and 1 completed and 2 pending Canadian canoes.

·       We built a 11’5” Clinker Dinghy for sale by the WBC, during one of our courses.

·       We completed and installed the commissioned  ‘airport biosecurity counter’.

·       We continue to use as much as possible of our precious specialty timbers.  Boatbuilding scrap is used to craft souvenirs and Huon Pine wood shavings are being sold as a sensory memento of workshop visits.


·       Leshelen work is progressing steadily with launch expected by Christmas 2017.

·       2 Fazackerly dinghies were repaired.

·       Insurance repair work to Gemma was undertaken.

·       The Montagu Whaler restoration and relaunch was completed in partnership with the Living Boat Trust, including a canvas cover thanks to a Huon Valley Council grant.

·       We have begun to hire out our powered wharf facilities for on water repairs performed by boat owners.  We hope to expand this capacity in the near future.

Asset management:

·       General de cluttering and reorganising of the workshop.

·       We repainted the ‘front of house’ area to lighten and freshen it up.

·       A garden blitz removing blackberries was undertaken thanks to Fiona Peate.


·       A Work Health and Safety advisory group has been established in recent months to oversee WHS issues, reporting, policy and direction.

·       WorkSafe Tasmania visited on request to provide advice on our WHS management system.

·       We now have a suite of WH&S policies and procedures in place – all part of a WHS management system that is consultative and continuously improving.


·       Our cash flow during the winter period continues to be a significant issue, as we remain at the mercy of tourism fluctuations.

·       We are reviewing our costing structure to enable us to invest more into asset improvement in the future.

·       We are always looking for additional volunteers – especially front of house and tour guides.  Training and support are provided.

General Comments:

We have had a busy, engaged and productive year at the Wooden Boat Centre.  Being an Australian Wooden Boat Festival year we staged a solid presence at this event at our own stall as well as through continued oar making demonstrations in the Shipwrights’ Village.  We have enjoyed the good company and fantastic contribution from so many people.  Thankyou to everyone involved – volunteers, staff, committee, suppliers, customers and supporters.


Anne Holst.



Build of the SEACREST - 2017

I February 2017 Australian Wooden Boat Festival (AWBF) celebrated the 375 year of Abel Tasman formal possession of the land that he named Van Dieman's land.

As part of the celebrations, the AWBF invited a group of dutch boat building students and their teacher to build a very special boat - the Bergumer Meer class 16 m2 sailing boat.
The AWBF made this project possible by seeking volunteers and sponsors for support.
The Wooden Boat Centre made workshop space available for the build. It was exciting for visitors to follow the build and great for the community.

Hydrowood Tasmania donated Celery Top pine for the build.
In 1986, The Reece Dam was constructed on the Pieman River creating the 50 km long Lake Pieman which drowned thousands of ancient trees. In 2015, after three years of planning, Hydrowood Tasmania found a way of harvesting these magnificent trees still standing at the bottom of the lake. From a barge, the harvester with a hydraulic arm, reaches down to a depth of 26 metres to hold and cut each tree with a chainsaw.

The donated log was taken to the local sawmill and cut into planks, shipped from the sawmill to Franklin where the students build 'SEACREST' in only 9 weeks, the last week working night shifts! SEACREST was launched and auctioned at the AWBF.


The launch of Franklin's new St Ayles Skiff

The Bittern's crew taking 'Freyja' for her first row.

The Bittern's crew taking 'Freyja' for her first row.

Franklin's third St Ayles Skiff, built at the Wooden Boat Centre in 2016 was launched yesterday.  The community celebrated the launch as part of the Swiftsure Regatta activities.  The vessel was named 'Freyja' to honour both her Scottish design heritage as well as being named after the Norse Goddess 'Freyja'.  The boat will be used regularly for community rowing for fun and fitness as well as for competition rowing in the International St Ayles Skiff regatta circuit. 

The Airport Biosecurity counter

Mike Johnson with the biosecurity bag search counter in the workshop in late July.

Mike Johnson with the biosecurity bag search counter in the workshop in late July.

The counter is a beamy clinker dinghy design, planked in King Billy Pine, with a Celery Top Pine laid deck for a counter top.  The fore deck is Tas Oak and provides a space for the Biosecurity dogs to sleep in between flights.  The counter will have a stainless steel plinth added to it to complete a counter to the correct work height for the Biosecurity staff when searching passengers bags on entry to Tasmania.  

The almost finished counter installed in the arrivals area of Hobart Airport.

The almost finished counter installed in the arrivals area of Hobart Airport.

The April Clinker Dinghy course

Students at the beginning of their 7 week course with instructors Pete Laidlaw and Mike Johnson

Students at the beginning of their 7 week course with instructors Pete Laidlaw and Mike Johnson

In April 5 students joined us to complete a Clinker Dinghy building course.  Students came from varied backgrounds. Wayne from Northern NSW who reconnected with his earlier industrial arts teaching skills; Max who had recently finished high school in country Victoria; Jay a Canadian backpacker looking for cool experiences; Ellie a British backpacker looking to extend her cabinet making skills; and Ray a psychologist from Melbourne.

Ray, Jay and Max who were instructed by Pete Laidlaw to build 'Jeanie', Max's rowing dinghy.

Ray, Jay and Max who were instructed by Pete Laidlaw to build 'Jeanie', Max's rowing dinghy.

Together the group built two clinker dinghies a rowing and sailing version. 

Mike Johnson with students Ellie and Wayne.  Wayne made the sailing version of the 11.4' dinghy to sell at the next Wooden Boat Festival.

Mike Johnson with students Ellie and Wayne.  Wayne made the sailing version of the 11.4' dinghy to sell at the next Wooden Boat Festival.