Canberra Classic Boatfest
Nostalgia abounds on Lake Burley Griffin as the Traditional Boats Squadron take their boats to the water for the Canberra Classic Boatfest.
Boat Squadron committee member Robyn Thorne says that 24 boats have come along for the weekend, with aside from the weather on Friday, a beautiful weekend shaping up. “We normally have around 30 boats, but there are a lot of events on, so its hard to get more.”
The sun shines down on the rows of boats pulled into the bay under the Yacht Club.
“It’s nice to see the lake used and our old boats can putt around for people,” he says.
With the strong trend towards retro and antique styles at the moment, I figure that the aged and at points archaic boats on the water will be a popular drawing card. I’m not disappointed.
There are stalls set up for visitors to look at, antique and nautical knick-knacks, a sausage sizzle and even the Boat Squadron choir, belting out songs from the sea. A good crowd mingles around the yacht club, mesmerized by the rich tones of marbled timber, chugging little engines and the polished swooning hulls.
John from Weston says that seeing the old boats out reminds him of growing up. “My dad had a few boats down in Bega over the years. I love coming here to see the old things putt around, it’s great to see something so old still on the water.”
The festival generally runs every two years and has been around since 1994, with a few gaps in between. Nowadays it draws a few interstate visitors along with it, both to view the boats or to show them off.
“The furthest person we had come along this year was from Portland, Victoria,” says Robyn Thorne.
“A couple people from Sydney, the Northcoast and Victoria. People come from all over. The active club members come from the city and the surrounding region, but a lot of people come along.”
I also speak with Amy, who took a ride on one of the boats with her kids Michael and Sarah. “It’s such a nice day, we get to come down here and have a look at the old boats. It’s so good to see the lake getting used, I just wish we had a boat now.”
The event takes place around Lake Burley Griffin in Yarralumla, but this year the boats even went up into Kingston, where some of the skippers departed for a brief coffee on the foreshore.
The boats range from a few electric launches to more conventional diesel and petrol powered boats, a few sailboats and even three steam powered boats.
The oldest craft range from 1910 and the newest is a replica, being put on the water for the very first time. All the boats of course, are well loved.
By Sam Kromar