The Huon Valley south of Hobart is famous for its Huon Pine, a tree native to southwest Tasmania. The tree is quite rare nowadays, even though it’s the oldest tree species in the world with a lifespan of over 1,000 years.
Huon pine’s inability to rot and its light weight made it ideal for wooden boat building. The art and craft of wooden boat building is still alive in Tasmania, thanks to the Wooden Boat Centre located in Franklin on the banks of the Huon River. For the past 25 years it’s been a hub for hobby wooden boat builders or those wanting to learn the shipwright trade.
Nowadays anyone can come along and learn how to build their own wooden kayak, canoe, skiff or dingy in a 3- or 4-week intensive course. If your heart beats for boats, as well as for wood craft, then this is the place to be.
We visited the centre on our first trip to the Huon Valley, and had an entertaining tour of their workshop. we even got to see one of the students showing off their newly built (and buoyancy tested) wooden kayak.
The centre also offers tours up and down the Huon River on the Yukon, a sailing ship salvaged from the bottom of Copenhagen’s harbour. If you’d really like to test your sailing mettle, then a sailing tour around Bruny Island or out along the southwest coast are also possible. Vikings everywhere you go.
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