The Blundstone Big Log Project (Pt III)

An Australian Wooden Boat Festival Initiative (Pt III of III)

Shipping Out - Hobart to Port Arthur, Tasmania

From the felling of the tree to the arrival of the Bullock Team in Hobart, the Blundstone Big Log Project had proved a huge success. It had captured the attention of young and old and transported them back to the years of their forefathers. But it wasn't over yet!

In Shipwright's Village, work began at a quick and steady pace, logs were split, timbers graded, separated and tasks assigned. Fence posts, Roof Tiles, Fishing Baskets, Oars, you name it they could make it.

The more challenging tasks of shaping timbers for barrels and boats would be done elsewhere. Man powered lathes, shaped legs for furniture. Adze, axe, hammer and chisel worked almost everything else. The sense of industry was all around, the wharf was alive with interest.

Coupled with the activity in Shipwrights Village, the Bullock Team returned, this time with with a dray laden with goods bound for the infamous penal colony of Port Arthur.

Sacks of Oats and Wheat, Barrels of wine and casks of Brandy, feedstocks and tools. All would be loaded aboard the trader Stormalong, in preparation for a journey that was often treacherous. Once clear of the Derwent River, Stormalong would be in the teeth of the Roaring Forties and the Southern Ocean. Fortunately this journey caught them both on their benign days. 

With course mapped and sails set, Stormalong departed Hobart beginning an 8 hour journey by sea. On route it would pass some of the highest cliffs in the Southern Hemisphere, towering a massive 300m (1000ft) above the ocean waters.

Travelling the Southern Ocean, the sharp eyed will spot, whales, dolphin, albatross, gannets, seals and Fairy Penguins. All call this home. A body of water that has one of the richest and most diverse food chains in the world.

And then comes Port Arthur. 100 years ago this was one of the most feared places on earth. Convicts shipped from the UK and other British Colonies dreaded this penal settlement. It was hard labour. There was no reprieve. No one escaped.

For Stormalong and her crew, fortunately times had changed. The Big Log Project was completed.

Port Arthur is now an historic Heritage Site with well organised tours that take you back to the days of the Convict settlement, illustrating clearly the life of both prisoner and those tasked with guarding and reforming them.

Our thanks to Blundstone for their support in this historic project and to the people of Hobart. You made this a truly memorable event.

Finally thank you to Eric Graudins, Greg Norris and Marion Madams for their wonderful pictorial coverage of the event.

© Robert Oates | BALLANTYNE Photography Travel and Events Photography and Editorials