Talking Point

Talking Point The Mercury Wednesday 4th January 2023

Here are the words as submitted to the Mercury. We thank them for helping us tell the story.

So, what IS happening with Cartela?

Readers have recently been asking about the state of Cartela, as she sits looking forgotten on the banks of the Huon River at Franklin.
Yes, it doesn’t look like anything has been happening, and that’s understandable due to some valid circumstances which I will outline here.

Firstly, most boats need to be slipped to enable maintenance. The restoration of an older wooden vessel is more complex, and Cartela would need to be hauled out of the water for an extended period. The trouble is…where? A 40 foot boat can be slipped at most marinas. However Cartela is nearly 40 metres long weighing around 200 tonnes – and there are very few options.
The only suitable local slipway is in constant use for commercial vessels which are out for a few days for regular annual maintenance etc. As Cartela will need a year or more, this facility is not a viable option.

This problem of access to suitable facilities also applies to other larger wooden boats – many of which attend the Australian Wooden Boat Festival. Facilities in Sydney for major repairs are very scarce and sailing vessels operating on Sydney Harbour have to travel to Queensland for their maintenance.
So, if we can solve the problem for Cartela, it will help other similar sized Australian vessels.

Consequently the Cartela Trust has proposed a Maritime Precinct that incorporates a repair facility at Franklin, drawing on the traditional skills and fine reputation for building and restoring wooden vessels of the Wooden Boat Centre and others. The Cartela is a considerably larger vessel than usually cared for at Franklin, however the much loved May Queen was built at Franklin in 1867. So this idea builds on historic foundations.

The Maritime Precinct repair arrangements will feature a submersible ship-lift capable of lifting vessels up to 40 metres in length and 250 tonnes. It will be environmentally compliant, protecting the Huon from runoff. There will be no concrete nor any permanent change to the waterfront, and the ship-lift could be relocated in the future should the community decide.

The trust has had advice that the Cartela’s hull appears to be in good condition, although this can only be confirmed when she is out of the water. Assuming she is, Cartela will be the first vessel for restoration and will become the catalyst for an ongoing Maritime  Centre of Excellence caring for Australia’s larger wooden boats. Besides preserving these important items of maritime heritage for future generations, there are significant economic benefits from this proposed facility.

Economist Dr Martin Farley has reviewed our plans and his Benefit Cost Analysis shows that  the broader tourism benefits from the Maritime Precinct, including the operation of a heritage tourist vessel such as Cartela on the Huon and Derwent Rivers area has the potential to:

1. Increase annual visitors by in Southern Tasmania excess of 115,000 people.
2. Provide a projected annual spend in excess of $7.5m
3. A Total Direct and Indirect 10yr Employment Effect of 490 Full Time Equivalent jobs

Similar wooden boat centres overseas have been popular attractions for many years, with Mystic Seaport and Port Townsend in the US good examples.

And when she is back in survey, Cartela can employ locals in providing a wonderful experience for tourists to cruise our beautiful local waterways while enjoying excellent local food and wine. This commercial opportunity makes the restoration economically viable compared with other community and heritage buildings – some of which, although important, have little likelihood of earning serious income.

We have received support for this proposal from local community groups at Franklin as well as Destinations Southern Tasmania among others.

What about the funding? The State Government’s encouragement and support to date is greatly appreciated. To start this part of the project, we have requested the State Government give serious consideration to funding the ship-lift. Besides being built in Tasmania, this facility will provide significant economic benefit for many years to come as shown by Dr Farleys analysis.

We will also apply to the Federal Government’s Growing Regions Program to commence work on Cartela when the guidelines are announced. This will enable the new niche industry to be developed.
Besides many supportive comments from the public, every politician we have spoken to agrees that Cartela should be restored and operate as a commercial vessel if possible.
With their support for initial government funding, we anticipate raising the balance from corporates, philanthropists and the community to complete the restoration. The Trust has deductible gift recipient (DGR) status, and more information is available at or on Facebook – Cartela Project.

So what is happening with Cartela? If we had a dollar for every time that was asked, we may have enough to restore the people’s boat. We have had a few setbacks, but still believe this is a very worthwhile project for Tasmania. And yes, Ian Wallace – we believe that Cartela will be able to pass under the new Bridgewater Bridge which has a clearance of 17m, subject to maritime regulations. This means that a day cruise to New Norfolk would be possible once again – this time with gourmet food and wine from the Derwent Valley.”






2 responses to “Talking Point”

  1. Gareth Peters Avatar
    Gareth Peters

    Whilst economic return for a venture is a deciding factor. The Cartela, is a Tasmanian treasure. As tourism is a large financial dependency for the state, not realising the restoration is not an option. I commend those currently holding the banner and hope the state and commonwealth governments step up. The holistic gain for the state realising this venture and the future abilities to restore wooden boats as an ongoing educational and tourism attraction will reward Tasmania and her generations in the future.

  2. james Avatar

    What an opportunity creating a maritime precinct would be for the whole of Tasmania. The state is now so well known for its wooden boat festival.
    The idea of being able to build and maintain larger boats and ships using traditional materials is so good.It will encourage the training of skilled boatbuilders and in its own right become a tourist attraction.
    The wonderful old Cartela could become the flagship and sail the magnificent waters of the state

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