Living History at Tall Ships Festival, Hobart
This week saw the arrival of a fleet of Tall Ships to Hobart, Tasmania, en route to the Centennial Feet Review, in Sydney, in a fortnight's time. Their arrival brought the crowds in droves and not even temperamental weather could keep them away. These majestic vessels brought history to life in a city, that already maintains many of it ties to its early years. Sullivan's Cove, Hobart's first port, built over 200 years ago, set the backdrop to five days of the Tall Ships Festival. On their arrival all ships ships sailed in with canvas billowing from every, mast, stay, yard, and bowsprit. As they collected at the mouth of the Derwent River, Hobart came to meet them. Sailing boats fishing boats, motor boats, canoes, jet skis, in fact just about anything that could float, brought the crowds to welcome these ancient mariners. A flotilla of over 300 vessels.
Once in harbour and after a chance to get ship shape and relax, Hobart provided a grand official welcome, a firework display that lasted for nearly half an hour. Crowds lined every vantage point, crews thronged the decks and the festival began.
Over the weekend over 50,000 visitors flocked to see the ships, Europa, Oosterschelde, Lord Nelson, Young Endeavour, Soren Larsen, Tecla and the two local vessels, Windward Bound and Lady Nelson, along with exhibitions, games, marches and a smorgasbord of local delicacies, wines, drinks and hospitality.
When the weekend rush abated, it was time for the children. Over two days, 20 schools comprising of over 1000 kids, got the opportunity to climb aboard and rig sails, haul lanyards, steer ships and step back over 100 years. The glowing faces, gave testament to the knowledge being absorbed. Over lunch they learned how to signal using semaphore, about Maritime safety and how to make sails.
And all too soon it was time to leave. Again Hobart's hospitality was on glowing display with a free breakfast for all comers, prior to the departure of the Tall Ships. Fed and watered the crews were readied and the vessels cast off. A circuit across the Derwent River to Bellerive and back in front of the iconic Tasman Bridge, before saluting the Governor aboard the MV Egeria and the show began again. All vessels put up as much canvas as possible in a final glowing salute to Hobart. Offering their own unique thanks and recognition to another World Class event, in a city that very few others could match for history, hospitality and character. in return the Hobartians gave their own salute. Thousands lined the docks, the river, office windows and any other vantage point, and nearly 500 vessels carrying over 1000 people again escorted these magnificent craft back out to sea in a final and fond farewell.
Final farewell as Hobart takes to the water to salute these magnificent ships. Lord Nelson at the rear is headed by Lady Nelson (left) Europa (middle) and Oosterschelde (front).
© Robert Oates | BALLANTYNE Photography