Anchors aweigh for 2017 SA Wooden Boat Festival

BOATIES: Armfield Slip members Bob Morris, Dave Saunders, Peter Shipside and Lowrie Phillips with Bob Jennings and Bill Johns ready for the Wooden Boat Festival.
BOATIES: Armfield Slip members Bob Morris, Dave Saunders, Peter Shipside and Lowrie Phillips with Bob Jennings and Bill Johns ready for the Wooden Boat Festival.

GOOLWA – Enthusiasts of boats all shapes and sizes will celebrate Goolwa’s river port history at this weekend’s Wooden Boat Festival.

Held every two years, the South Australian Wooden Boat Festival is one of the region’s biggest events. It will attract thousands with the sights and sounds of river boat culture dating back to the 1800s.

The program will feature wooden boats from humble putt-putts to paddle steamers, family entertainment, live music, art exhibitions, maritime displays and regional food and wine.

At the heart of Goolwa’s boating culture are the Armfield Slip volunteers – a men’s shed style group who repair and build wooden boats at Goolwa.

The group will have two of their historic boats on display: The Hideaway, which featured in the 1976 Storm Boy film, and the 100-year-old river cruiser Lotus.

Armfield Slip member Lowrie Phillips said the boats attract great interest from visitors.

“We rebuilt the Lotus about 12 years ago, some thought it was really just firewood when we got it, but brought it back into great shape,” Lowrie said.

“It was used as a pleasure craft and as a work boat at Chowilla Station for the transport of produce to and from Renmark.

“As a group we aim to maintain the skills of traditional small wooden boat building, particularly related to the Lower Murray and to foster interest and enthusiasm in the building, restoration and use of wooden boats.”

The Armfield Slip boatshed, 56 Riverside Drive, will be open across the weekend with boat-building and repair demonstrations.

The Wooden Boat Festival will kick off 9am Saturday, April 22. 

BIG EVENT: Thousands are expected to attend the South Australian Wooden Boat Festival at Goolwa Wharf.

BIG EVENT: Thousands are expected to attend the South Australian Wooden Boat Festival at Goolwa Wharf.

After the official opening at noon, a grand parade of all boats will be led by the PS Oscar W and PS Marion.

The always-popular Rough and Ready boat-building competition will be held across the weekend. The construction of vessels will begin at 2pm on Saturday, culminating with the Rough and Ready race at 2.30pm on Sunday.

St Ayles Skiffs will grace the water in the morning and afternoon on both days.

Visitors can book paddle steamer cruises on both days, with cruises running from 10am until 5pm.

Saturday night will provide a visual spectacle with the boat fairy light parade as the sun goes down, followed by fireworks from the Hindmarsh Island Bridge. 

The Brigand, pond yachts and wooden yachts will also be a feature at the Goolwa Regatta Yacht Club.

Local music will include Suzie and the Jets, Nostalgia, Mactones, Jenn Cole, Water Port Jazz and Buckleys Chance.

For the family there will be face painting and craft activities on offer, as well as a jumping castle and sumo wrestling suits.

A Pirate Trail will guide families around the Wooden Boat Festival area in search for unique collectibles. 

For more information visit www.sawoodenboatfestival.com.au