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.