The ferry at Louth on blocks for repairs.The Louth ferry

The article about the Harwood punt by Noel Parkinson last month prompted memories of vehicular ferries that Colin Carpenter’s father worked on when he was employed by the DMR (Department of Main Roads) for some 25 years.

Dad was a carpenter by trade and regularly worked at the slipway beside the Mortlake Ferry, overhauling the ferries that the DMR controlled. Coastal ferries were towed to Mortlake and slipped at high tide by pulling up with a bulldozer. There was no winch capable for retrieving the ferries.

For letting down, they tied off using fibre ropes prior to releasing the steel cables. When ready they chopped through the fibre ropes with an axe and the weight soon broke the rope and the ferry slipped into the Parramatta River.

Many trips to the country were made when ferries were in use prior to bridges being built.

The photographs show the flaps for the Louth ferry leaving the Rosehill depot. The flaps were assembled in Rosehill and transported to Louth, a village 99 kms south west of Bourke on the eastern side of the Darling River, for fitting during the overhaul.

The escort vehicle was a Ford Prefect utility. The trip in the early 1950s would have taken many days and I remember him telling me that they slept under the load and experienced very cold nights.

Punt across river at Nelligan.The Louth ferry, pictured, was dragged up on the approach ramp and jacked up for work on the hull prior to the new flaps being fitted.

Other trips away, as I recall, were to Bourke, Port Macquarie, Nelligan, Wisemans Ferry and Webbs Creek. Local ferries operating were at Mortlake and Sans Souci.

As a young boy I visited the Mortlake slipway when they were replating the hull with rivet construction, an eye-opener for me with the red-hot rivets thrown, caught and then hammered tight through the plates.

Leaving DMR depot enroute to Louth.On the way home across the Parramatta River at Mortlake to Putney he took me down into the bowels of the ferry when it was still operating on coal, the fireman had to wheel off a barrow load of ashes on the Putney side after each crossing.

The decks and flaps were of heavy timber construction, bitumened over. Father often had bad backs from handling the heavy timbers, all very manual labour without materials handling facilities.

Many years ago an overhauled ferry was being towed up to the north coast for placing on a run. As I remember, it sunk off Terrigal. Was it heading for Harwood?


Haphazard ashore.A tough year for hazardous Three Peaks

At 2pm Good Friday, with no wind in the river, teams in Tasmania’s annual H&R Block Three Peaks Race rowed away from the start line at Beauty Point and headed towards Bass Strait aided only by their oars and an outgoing tide, although Peccadillo did unveil a ‘secret’ pedalling system with high aspect propeller blades that moved the big cat well.

First across at the start was team Whistler Sport, a Thompson 920 sports boat with two sets of sweep oars. By the time the yachts rowed into a strengthening northerly, Whistler Sport had the jump and was first past the Low Head light and its ominous fog horn farewell. Fog blanketed Bass Strait as the yachts made slow progress towards Flinders Island in a light north easterly. But a front was due.

Later Friday evening the expected front swept through the fleet, the wind backed to the west and increased until it was blowing a steady 50 knots with gusts into the mid 60s – well beyond expectations.

Leader Mobile Travel Agents reduced sail progressively until they were doing 19 knots under just storm jib. Advantedge destroyed her mainsail, UK Peaks Challenge couldn’t get their main to work to windward and ran through Banks Strait and out to sea, while Whistler Sport sought shelter behind Clarke Island.

MTA arrived at Flinders Island first, followed by Deguello Brierley Marine but each took nearly half an hour to tidy up and motor to the wharf. Advantedge struggled in as first monohull, Haphazard ran aground on a sandy spit, and eventually Euphoria Furniture, Peccadillo, Elphinstone Weigh To Go, Centre Euro Wines, Apollonius and Tilt Genesis Fitness all made it safely into port. [Haphazard was subsequently refloated from White Beach on Saturday evening, and sailed back to Beauty Point on Tuesday with no damage to boat or crew.]

Organisers held the fleet until conditions abated from gale strength to strong wind, before sending them on their way to Flinders Island.

MTA almost threw the race away when they elected to take the Denison Canal shortcut. Strong tidal outflow and 20 knot winds blowing out of the canal prevented transit, and they were also forced to wait out the compulsory midnight to 4am bridge closure.

Only manhandling the big cat through with crew in the water and lines ashore enabled MTA to sail to Hobart ahead of their opposition.

By Monday evening the winning multihull team MTA, which included solo record holders Bruce Arms and Jessica Watson, had received their accolades after the final mountain run, and all other teams had arrived in Hobart and their runners were all off Mt Wellington.

Snow, sleet and strong winds had buffeted the runners on the final peak completing the kaleidoscope of conditions that defined the race.

Although Peccadillo rested in Port Arthur for a few hours and were behind Euphoria Furniture into Hobart, their gun runners retook second in the multihull division.

Advantedge’s persistence brought them the Monohull division trophy. Centre Euro Wines and Apollonius both officially arrived in Hobart with a time penalty to add, but the Apollonius runners did not complete the mountain together, leaving Centre Euro Wines as second placed monohull.

Terry Travers

Solving the deepest challenge 

Following explorer-filmmaker James Cameron’s recent successful record-breaking descent to the deepest part of the worlds oceans, McConaghy Boats confirmed its significant involvement in this remarkable project.

For more than 45 years, McConaghy Boats in Sydney has been solving complex composite engineering problems in the marine, aviation, military and industrial markets.

Internationally recognised for building high-performance, record-breaking racing yachts, McConaghy was approached 18 months ago to assist the explorer-filmmaker James Cameron and his engineering partner, Ron Allum, with the complex construction of the Deepsea Challenger submersible, a submarine capable of diving to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the Western Pacific, eleven kilometres down at the deepest part of the world’s oceans – with Cameron himself onboard as sole pilot.

The challenges involved in this project were immense. The pressures involved at these extreme depths meant any faults or voids in the materials or construction process could prove catastrophic.

During a three-month period, McConaghy developed a solution for bonding more than 250 sections of the submersible’s core-buoyancy material – an extremely hard and high-strength composite foam structure innovated by Cameron’s team called Isofloat and forming the 5.8m main structure of the submersible.

This beam had to be constructed to withstand 16,500 psi (114MPa) of sea pressure – allowing the main beam to become massively compressed at its record-breaking depth at the base of the Mariana Trench, resulting in the submersible becoming 60mm shorter than it is at sea-level.

Having overcome the problem of bonding the core buoyancy materials, McConaghy continued to work closely with the Acheron Project, Cameron’s and Allum’s Sydney-based team, fabricating 95% of all composites in the project, including the main beam, thruster units, doors, access panels and battery housings.

Cameron and Allum were delighted with both McConaghy’s commitment to the project and its engineering capabilities.

“It’s safe to say we couldn’t have done this without the McConaghy team,” said Cameron.


Not even a boatful of water stopped Angus MacGregor.Brothers finish top two in Access 2.3 Worlds

Sixteen year-old Angus MacGregor from Tinaroo in Queensland is showing just why he is the defending champion of the Access 2.3 single-person class courtesy of four wins, a trio of seconds and a fourth place at the Macquarie 2012 Access World Championships being hosted by Middle Harbour Yacht Club on Sydney Harbour last month.

His 22 year-old brother, Duncan, a university student living in Canberra, counted two wins and a trio of seconds in his score. Like his younger brother, he did not stray outside the top five, despite being out of the class for a while because of studies.

Angus, who won the Australian Sailor of the Year with a Disability in 2010, has an enormous amount of talent and a bright future ahead in sailing, if he should pursue that course.

“I wanted to win the title again – so I feel a bit relieved that it’s all over – but it wasn’t a life or death sort of wish,” Angus said laughing.

Duncan explained: “When you turn up to big world class regattas like this, you don’t know who will be here. There’s always new people, and people from overseas you haven’t raced before, so you never know what the level will be.”

Greg Hyde, who represented Australia in windsurfing at the 1984 Olympic Games and went on to claim fame in the 16-foot skiff class and in ocean racing, winning the 1993 Sydney Hobart, won five out of eight races in the Access Liberty single-handed class to claim the world title.

Greg Hyde carves it up in the Liberty one-person.Hyde, from Clontarf near Middle Harbour, contracted encephalitis 14 years ago, then had a stroke in 2008, resulting in partial paralysis, short-term memory loss, and speech difficulties, none of which have affected his great skill in tactical racing.

As they say, you can’t keep a good man down, and while many threw down the gauntlet this week, Hyde was not distracted from the task at hand … winning.

Hyde’s nearest rival was Christopher Cook (AUS), a national and international champion who received Ballina Council’s Australia Day award for outstanding work as a volunteer. Cook finished 12 points behind Hyde, with Frenchman, Gerard Eychenne third, a further 13 points away.

Now competition is over, Hyde intends getting back into the 2.4mR Paralympic class with hopes of competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“Winning,” Hyde said, “is a matter of choice. Making the right tactical decisions, going training, staying positive.”

He described the mixed conditions of the week, which included 26, 15 and 6-12 knot winds, as “challenging”.

“It has been tactical, definitely, with all the wind shifts and pressure.”

Hyde, who feels fortunate that his health has not affected his sailing ability, said Cook and Eychenne both gave him a run for his money.

Meanwhile, able-bodied sailor Michael Leydon (AUS) claimed the Access 303 international title from Stephen Churm (AUS).

Sydney sailor Churm, a recent inclusion in the Australian team for the London Paralympics in the Sonar three-person keelboat, looked to be in the money. However, Leydon was on a winning streak and Churm could not combat the onslaught of five wins. Tasmanian able-bodied sailor, Rodney Viney finished third.

Di Pearson

Courageous return to sailing takes Bugg to ParalympicsCourageous return to sailing takes Bugg to Paralympics

Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania member Matt Bugg has been named in Australia’s team for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the climax of a courageous return to sailing after suffering severe physical disabilities in a snow-boarding incident six and a half years ago.

The Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) announced that Bugg would represent his country in the 2.4mR single person keelboat class in the regatta at Weymouth.

Bugg will be joined by Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch, both from NSW, who will sail the two-person Skud 18, and the three-person Sonar crew of Colin Harrison (WA), Stephen Churm (NSW) and Jonathan Harris (NSW).

“I am going over there to win a medal,” the 31-year-old said with great confidence as he worked on his boat at his club, the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania in Hobart. “Gold may be tough, but I feel I am certainly in the running for a medal.”

Encouraged by his father Ron, Commodore of Derwent Sailing Squadron, and later by high performance coach Richard Scarr, has seen Matthew steadily built up his skill in sailing the 2.4mR, achieving excellent results in international regattas and winning back-to-back open national titles.

“Matt is now in the top five 2.4mR sailors in the world, winning and placing in many regattas around the world, including the World Cup in Miami earlier this year,” Scarr said. “We leave in mid-May for regattas in Holland and at Weymouth in the final lead-up to the London Paralympics.”

Despite being confined to a wheel chair, Matt has fitted out the fiberglass hull of the new 2.4mR boat, a design that resembles a scaled-down version of the 12-metre class yachts of America’s Cup fame.

He has built the boat’s sail control console and seating from carbon fibre, swaged the rigging and built the mast and boom from basic sections.

“I’m pretty good with my hands,” the former professional chef said.

His new boat will be flown to Europe in the next few weeks for Matt to sail at his next international regatta at Medemblik, Holland, in late May, for by the Go for Gold Regatta at Weymouth, England, in June.

According to his father, Matt was afloat in the family yacht when he was just six months old. He started his sailing as a crew in Cadet dinghies, went on to become a Sharpie sailor and competed in two Sydney Hobarts before heading overseas.

He was working as a professional chef in the snow resort of St Moritz when the snow-boarding accident happened. He fought back from his disabilities, took up sailing again in the 2.4mR class five years ago – and the rest is history.

“I really got serious about three years ago, and with the excellent coaching of ‘Scarry’ (Richard Scarr), I have steadily improved my skills and my attitude to international sailing…and now I am off to the London Paralympics,” an elated Bugg added.

Australia has won three medals in sailing at the Paralympic Games – one gold, one silver and one bronze – since it was introduced as a Paralympic sport in 2000. More are in the offing at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Peter Campbell

Division Three really was all about one boat and this is her – Watermark II.Terra Firma stands out in final round of Club Marine Series

In a world of options, upsizing and cross-selling, it was good to see a stock standard day on Melbourne’s Port Phillip for the last round of the 2011/12 Club Marine Series.

There was a bit of sun, some cloud and a south to sou’westerly shifty breeze of mostly between 10-20 knots and a 1-1.5m seaway, built from good, solid breezes over the previous few days.

Terra Firma was probably the stand out vessel of the day, taking two IRC wins and a second. Veloce also had a good outing with a third and two seconds for their day’s work. This was enough for these vessels to take second and third places respectively, when all the tallying had been done.

“Terra Firma did really well today and we’re very happy to get International Rule, Club and Performance Handicap System (PHS) double. It comes down to a strong crew, great communication and we’re well in to the 12-month campaign and looking good,” co-owner Jason Van Der Slot said.

On the day, Division One’s 40-somethings like Wicked, Audacious, Swordfish Trombone and 38 South dominated, but in terms of IRC, the 2011/12 Club Marine Series really belonged to Ikon. They ended up 12 points clear of Wicked and another of the Sydney 38s, Chutzpah38 got in for third.

The very popular AMS saw Swordfish Trombone dominate the final standings, with a win over Ikon and Chutzpah38 making another third. For PHS, the much loved and well-sailed Jazz Player got the nod, with the Inglis 37 Addiction and 38 South taking the minors.

Jazz Player got the Performance Handicap crown in Division One, as a mark of her consistency.Division One’s Ikon had a great time of it and walked away with the prestigious IRC crown. Skipper, Bruce McCracken was pleased with his yacht’s consistency.

“Very similar to the last and great to have Reverie, Schuss and Wicked around to work against. It’s good fun. We have a great crew, seven out of the core 11 sailors are family and been with it all for a while now. I am really pleased that my daughter, Breeahn (mainsail), and her fiancé Rodney (foredeck), managed to look at the calendar and not choose today for their wedding, which is next Saturday!”

There’s been up to 10 boats making Division Two the racing to watch. Penfold Audi Sport did more than enough to hold their first place in IRC for the series, with Absolut taking second and Executive Decision getting third on countback. The little, but oh-so-mighty Toecutter2 took AMS, even though they did not sail the last race.

In Division Three, Outlaw took AMS on the day and also walked away with the PHS win for the entire series, ahead of Good Question and Sea Eagle.

“We’ve been working on consistency,” David Judge from the Outlaw consortium said. “Giles Lesser has been doing the driving and the other spots have been Jock Murphy, myself and Chris Hens on the pointy end and he’s really stepped up. Staying in touch with Div3 stalwart, Intrusion, has been a delight.”

Watermark II took both IRC and AMS to make sure there were no doubts in Div3. Wavelength and then Rhiannon fell in to step behind Watermark II in AMS.

John Curnow

Rag & Famish and Appliancesonline fight for the lead at the rounding mark.Coxon takes out 18ft Skiffs Club Championship ahead of Jarvin

The Australian 18 Footers League’s 2011-2012 Season concluded on 25 March when the club staged Race 11 of the 18ft Skiff Club Championship on Sydney Harbour.

Although finishing only fourth, Michael Coxon, Aaron Links and Trent Barnabas won the championship in Thurlow Fisher Lawyers with an overall score of 16 points, followed by Gotta Love It 7 (Seve Jarvin) on 35, Smeg (Nick Press) 50, Lumix (Jonathan Whitty) 55, Rag & Famish Hotel on 56 and (Marcus Ashley-Jones, sub for Micah Lane) on 63.

It was also the last race together for the Thurlow Fisher Lawyers’ team as Aaron and Trent are both retiring (hopefully only for one season) from the 18s.

The Yandoo team of John Winning, Andrew Hay and Dave Gibson took out the Season Point Score trophy, which is based on the handicap performance of each boat for all club races staged throughout the season.

Race 11’s winner was Rag & Famish Hotel (Jack Macartney, Peter Harris and Mark Kennedy), which took line honours by 19s from Gotta Love It 7, with Appliancesonline a further 2s back in third place.

While the wind was a light and variable 4-12 knots from the south east, the race was one of the most exciting of the season due to the extremely close battle for the lead between Rag & Famish Hotel and Appliancesonline.

Thurlow Fisher Lawyers, club champion.Rag & Famish won the race to the first windward mark and held a 30s break over Appliancesonline as spinnakers were set for the long run from Rose Bay to Robertson Point. Gotta Love It 7 was a further 20s back, followed by Yandoo and De’Longhi-Rabbitohs (Simon Nearn).

At the bottom mark, little had changed in the leading group, but the battle behind was tight among the next five teams.

Rag & Famish continued to hols her 30s lead over the next three legs of the course but a change came over the race on the spinnaker run from Rose Bay to Taylor Bay when Appliancesonline elected to go west of Shark Island, while Rag & Famish went to the east.

Gotta Love It 7 capsized on the windward leg back to Rose Bay leaving Appliancesonline and Rag & Famish (5s apart) to fight it out for victory. In the fading breeze Gotta Love It 7 closed to grab second place just metres from the finish.

Frank Quealey

Dipolar Software’s Ed Blackman and Paul Carpenter ‘go down the mine’.Brett Hobson wins 12ft Skiff Australian Championships

The 12ft Skiff Australian Championships were held at Woollahra Sailing Club over Easter with 24 skiffs from Queensland and Victoria joining the three Sydney clubs – Lane Cove, Abbotsford and Woollahra for a six race series.

On Friday most of the fleet selected their second rig. Lane Cove’s Gemmell Sails (Murray Press/ Ben Gemmell) cleared out to an early lead only to suffer a failed trapeze wire, dropping both crew into the water and Murray onto his tiller extension thus earning the nickname ‘Twinkle Toes’ for the remainder of the regatta. The race was won by Garde (Brett Hobson/Alex Johnson) with PB Towing and Lincoln Crown filling the minor places.

Saturday greeted the fleet with wind gusts over 30 knots. In these conditions the nimble 12ft skiffs barely touch the water on the spinnaker runs, except when things go wrong and they hit the water in what’s referred to as “going down the mine”. Garde again showed masterly class by winning both heats, with Lincoln Crown, Gemmell Sails and Skoll sharing the minor places.

On Sunday the ever consistent Hobson & Johnson sealed overall regatta victory with a first and second, giving them the Australian Championship with a race to spare.

Monday saw a late change by the fleet to No.2 rig as a stronger westerly breeze came in before the start. Unfortunately this was merely a show, as the breeze again died, giving those wily enough to stay with big rig, a winning advantage. Gemmell Sails took the honours followed by Lincoln Crown and Hey Charger.

Overall championship results saw Garde, Gemmell Sails and Lincoln Crown filling the top three places. Overall handicap winner was Panadol Rapid (Andrew O’Brien & Allan Jackson).

Brett Phillips

Strong Winds dominate Mega Multihull RegattaStrong Winds dominate Mega Multihull Regatta

The Multihull Central Mega Multihull Regatta, hosted by Kurnell Catamaran Club for the 17th year, saw 80 crew members from 13 boats enjoy strong to moderate winds on the flat waters of Botany Bay over the Easter long weekend.

A Corsair Dash 750 trimaran was first across the line in each race as this pocket cruiser often reached speeds in excess of 20 knots to the exhilaration of her crew and onlookers, while it was the vintage designs that had success with the corrected times as a Seawind 24 Drift Wood skippered by Joseph Dagher took out the overall position.

Tony Wainwright’s Seawind 1160 Manyana won the Racing Division, the Simpson 11.6 Dellajoy skippered by Warwick Rasdall took out the Cruising Division, while What A Corka a GBE Sportdeck skippered by Greg Bridges took out the Invitation Race on Good Friday.

Women on Water keep the Challenge alive 

Manly Yacht Club’s annual Women’s Sailing Challenge, aimed at encouraging more female sailors to take the helm, proves there are no gender barriers to fun and success on the water. In its 17th year the event has proved as popular as ever. A total of 42 yachts and centreboard boats competed for glory and the Helly Hansen prizes.

The most hotly contested division is the Access 303s with female Sailability members, including many with disabilities, racing for the coveted One design Trophy.

This year in the Access Division, Margaret Price with Eli Demeny as crew, beat off Judy Cole with Kate Boyd, and Jackie Morgan with Jessika Kelderman for the top spot.

Other divisions included sailors from around Sydney Harbour, Pittwater and as far away as Hobart and Brisbane.

Women and girls bought their own boats to the event or borrowed boats. Some crews took on the extra challenge of sailing with an unknown boat owner, an unknown boat and sometimes crew members they didn’t know.

Others trained for weeks to hone their skills. All in the essence of good racing, good fun and the prospect of winning  their division.

The weather was kind this year with moderate south easterly breezes a change from last year’s wild conditions.

Last Tango helmed by Wendy Tuck took out first place in the all girl crew Division One. Division Two was won by One More No More skippered by Kath Hughes. Ruth Lawrence aboard Alcamy saw success in Division Three, while Lee Ebeling on Lautrec took the honours in Division Four.

In the J24 Div 5 the winner was Emma Reid on Okavanga Delta. Sqwall Candace Christenson won the Lasers Div 8.

Manly Yacht Club thanks all the competitors and sponsor Helly Hansen for supporting the Women’s Sailing Challenge.

Ivana Gattegno and Judy Cole

Wooden Boat Festival of GeelongWooden Boat Festival of Geelong

A larger than expected fleet of wooden boats gathered at the Royal Geelong Yacht Club during the Labour Day weekend giving the public a mind boggling festival from 10-11 March which started with the arrival of absolute classic yachts over the finishing line in the Classic & Modern Wooden Boat Passage Race.

With well in excess of one hundred craft on display, it was no wonder that the sleek greyhounds of the sea were like magnets to the general public.

The 1897 Topsail Cutter Sayonara with her 2,079sqft of sail and Windward II built in 1929 were both archetypal examples of the class of exhibits on display.

Lupa Wylo built 1936 in Adelaide of jarrah and kauri has been magnificently restored over a two year period by owners Lilliane Caron & Fabrizio Tassalini. With beautiful bronze winches, traditional timber turning blocks and an oregon mast and boom with stainless steel rigging, she is easily managed by a small crew under all conditions and makes a great long distance racer.

Wooden boats came in all sorts of shapes and sizes and the two steam boats choof-choofed around the marina to the toot of their steam hooters!

Firefly 2 a Scruffie Marine 16ft day boat was built from a kit and modified a tad. A couple of the frames were added to make the interior larger and the decks planked. She’s now about seven years old.

The other tea urn (which actually had an urn beside the boiler!) was the steam driven Osborne. This delightful craft is 24ft overall with a beam of 5ft. Built of Western Red Cedar, Queensland beech and Tasmanian Blackwood she hits a speed of 6 knots with a steam pressure of 100psi.

Many power boats were part of the Navigation Rally which was won by Cadora owned by Chris Ackerman, Rear Commodore of RVMYC in Williamstown.

Herons are the type of yacht that many of us ‘grew up’ with and Ralph Brown’s Heron Sarie was the victor in the Heron series taking out the Norglass Trophy.

Geelong lad, Rob Ballard, on board his 23ft Norwalk Islands Sharpie Route 66 won the Corio Bay Cup. Route 66 is a trailable and was designed by Bruce Kirby, based on the traditional oystering sharpies of Long Island Sound, USA. Rob built Route 66 in his garage from a kit.

The judges had a tough job with the Concours d’Elegance. The overall winner Windward II is unquestionably a rare and real classic. She was designed by Norm Dallimore and built by Percy Coverdale in Hobart in 1929 using King Billy pine on Blue Gum frames. She is rove copper fastened and has a lead keel. With oregon spars, her overall length is 54ft 6ins and she displaces 13 tons.

There aren’t many vessels that can be said to have been present at the birth of a city. But it was from the original topsail schooner Enterprize that a handful of settlers disembarked on the Yarra River on August 30, 1835, to begin the settlement which is now a capital of around 3.5-million people.

Today’s replica Enterprize was constructed in Melbourne and launched in 1997 to commemorate that event. Colonisation was already under way in Tasmania in the 1830s, and the schooner brought settlers from Launceston. Throughout the entire weekend the Enterprize was kept very busy carrying out sea trips.

Bob Appleton

The Beach Fisherman by Kenneth Macqueen (1897 – 1960), watercolour, 1934. Lent by New England Regional Art Museum, Armidale. Gift of Howard Hinton.Australian art through fish-eye lens

From Indigenous rock paintings and scientific illustrations to 20th century still lifes and contemporary multimedia, the Australian National Maritime Museum is taking an unconventional look at Australian art in a major new exhibition showing how the simple subject of fish has been a source of artistic inspiration for hundreds of years.

Spanning centuries, art movements, and mediums Fish in Australian art presents more than 170 works from well-known Australian artists such as Margaret Olley, William Dobell, Yvonne Koolmatrie, Rupert Bunny, Anne Zahalka, John Brack, Michael Leunig, John Olsen, Craig Walsh and others … all within the unique context of fish and fishing.
“While there have been many books and exhibitions on plants, flowers and birds in Australian art, fish have been virtually overlooked,” said exhibition co-curator and art historian Stephen Scheding.

“Drawing on the National Maritime Museum’s own collection of maritime art together with works on loan from public and private collections around the country, this fish-eye view of Australian art history reveals a remarkable and surprising body of work from the purely descriptive to the wonderfully eccentric,” he said.

This unusual introduction to Australian art history begins by looking at the influence of fish and fishing in Indigenous culture through rock art, traditional weavings and bark paintings.

Works by renowned Indigenous weaver Yvonne Koolmatrie and Yolngu artist Galuma Maymuru show how representations of fish in Indigenous art are often linked to stories that reaffirm and communicate Indigenous people’s connection to freshwater and saltwater country. Images of Indigenous people fishing also feature in rarely seen works by the Port Jackson Painters who arrived on the First Fleet.

The exhibition looks at portrayals of fish in 18th and 19th century scientific drawings by artists and naturalists who sailed with James Cook, William Dampier and Matthew Flinders.

Ventriloquist and Skate, by Arthur Boyd, 1979 – 80. Reproduced with permission of Bundanoon Trust.Still life works by Peter Churcher, William Buelow Gould, and Margaret Preston show the role of fish in domestic life. While our fascination with fishing as a popular past-time is also evident in works by Conrad Martens, Kenneth Macqueen and Joshua Smith.

However, Australian artists’ fascination with fish hasn’t been limited to drawings or paintings. The exhibition includes a range of art forms including scrimshaw, sculpture, multimedia and even decorative arts.

Visitors will see works by Chris O’Doherty (Reg Mombassa) and Michael Leunig, John Olsen’s colourful 2009 piece The Bouillabaisse, James Gleeson’s surrealist 1983 study with fish, Arthur Boyd’s Ventriloquist and Skate together with decorative vases, an extravagant fishing trophy, advertising, jewellery, children’s toys and artistic displays of fishing tackle!

The exhibition was jointly developed by art historian, author and collector Stephen Scheding and museum curator Penny Cuthbert.

Fish in Australian art continues until 1 October 2012.

Justus VeeneklaasJustus Veeneklaas

Viking, benefactor and champion yachtsman

Bruce Stannard bids farewell to an old friend

When Justus Veeneklaas, an old and much-loved friend died in my arms recently, the sudden and dramatic loss left me profoundly shaken and set me thinking about the tenuous nature of our existence.

While most people naturally prefer not to dwell on the all too brief span of our lives, very few of us appear to be prepared for, much less reconciled to, its inevitable ending. I was one of them, but not any more.

Justus, who would have been 70 in July, had a distinguished career in international business. He and Marianne, his wife of 50 years, shared a passionate interest in music, the theatre, literature and art – all areas in which he was an exceptionally generous benefactor and patron. He invariably had constructive and carefully considered opinions on most things and was never shy in expressing them. I admired his candour and his sparkling good humour.

Justus was a tall, sandy-haired, blue-eyed Frieslander, a native of the Netherlands’ northern-most province, but woe betide anyone who called him a Dutchman.

He saw himself as a Viking, a descendant of the seaborne invaders who swept out of Norway in the 10th century to conquer the Low Countries and overrun much of Britain and Europe. His abiding passion, which we shared, was an interest in traditional wooden sailing boats. He was a champion yachtsman with a long record of success in bluewater classics and in around-the-buoys regattas.

On the day of his death we had spent a delightful afternoon together aboard the lovely Huon Pine Couta Boat he had aptly named Tenacity. The name was a direct reflection of his own indomitable spirit.

Life had dealt him some pretty tough cards: triple bypass heart surgery, kidney failure and a more or less constant regime of dialysis, but he never complained and was always up-beat and optimistic. Although most people of his age have long since retired, he remained busy building a new start-up company. He found time for golf three days a week and had even plunged into learning the clarinet. So here was a man who plainly loved Life and enjoyed it to the full.

We spent an unforgettable four hours together on his boat on Pittwater. The autumn sun was shining out of a cloudless blue sky. A gentle nor’easter was blowing and so we went out to encourage his two young grandsons, Finn and Charlie, who were off in their own little Optimist dinghies, being coached by their father, Menno.

There was an easy banter between them all as the boys crouched in their dinghies and watched the tell-tale ribbons in the rigging for signs of the breeze. Justus was clearly very proud of the wee boys and he spoke to them with respect and admiration.

Justus VeeneklaasWe went back the Veeneklaas family home at Newport, made the boat fast to the jetty at the foot of the garden and tucked into a splendid salad luncheon under the shade of a waterfront gazebo.

Here was the quintessential Australian experience: kids in their dinghies under the eyes of a doting Dad and their beaming grandparents. In a world full of chaos and uncertainty for so many people, here was an Australian family doing what Aussie families have always done. It was reassuring to me at least, that in the midst of so much social change, some things stay the same. But then, just when everything seemed so blissfully perfect, along came the killer blow.

We were attaching the cover on Tenacity when Justus suffered a massive heart attack. He died in my arms on the foredeck. I cannot imagine a more fitting end for any sailor. Justus Veeneklaas was faewelled in a private ceremony and, according to his wishes, his ashes were scattered at sea just north of Barrenjoey Head.