The Great Gatsby comes to Darling Harbour with the Classic and Wooden Boat Festival

Celebrating the beauty and diversity of Australia’s heritage vessels and their craftspeople, the Australian National Maritime Museum will present the Classic and Wooden Boat Festival from 15-17 April 2016 in Sydney’s Darling Harbour.

The Australian National Maritime Museum’s CEO, Kevin Sumption said, ‘The free festival will give visitors the chance to get up close and personal with over 100 beautiful boats ranging from 10 to 60 foot long, both afloat and on land around the museum and the Wharf 7 building, from morning until after dark.’

A huge range of boats will be on display including Halvorsens, yachts and skiffs, classic speedboats, steam launches, tugboats, whalers and Navy workboats from all around Australia. Also featuring the stunning 1924 luxury ketch Hurrica V, featured in Baz Luhrmann’s film The Great Gatsby.

A symposium of talks will focus on historic vessels in a contemporary world and will feature keynote speaker Lin Pardey, the internationally renowned cruising sailor, coupled with an expert panel of museum staff and boat owners followed by a Q&A facilitated by Jessica Watson, OAM.

A maritime marketplace featuring 30 stallholders from trades of all types will showcase their wares for festival goers to peruse and purchase.

Behind-the-scenes tours will focus on an array of items from the museum’s collection, and visitors will be able to cruise on some of Sydney Heritage Fleet’s vessels, taking in all the atmosphere of the festival and our beautiful harbour.

Maritime demonstrations and competitions will include line throwing, sculling, caulking, and the ‘Quick and Dirty’ boat building competition, where the race is on to create makeshift boats and sail them on the harbour in record time!  

Each day a host of arts and crafts activities for kids will take place in the ‘kids’ boatshed’ where crafty kids can make, float and race their very own foam boats to win a trophy!

A swimwear parade through the ages will showcase a colourful selection of ‘cossies’ from the museum’s collection.

There will be entertainment throughout the weekend, including live music performances from artists including Sam Joole, Bill Hunt and Stu Tyrrell. So that you can make the most of the festival, the program will extend into the evenings with entertainment including reggae artist headliner Declan Kelly and the Rising Sun, and a waterfront pop up bar/restaurant where you can relax, listen to live music and watch the setting sun highlight the Sydney skyline.

The festival will officially open on Friday 15 April at 10am with a spectacular ceremony featuring an Indigenous smoking ceremony, parade of sail, Nawi canoeing, the official welcome and entertainment on the Tall Ship Endeavour.

Join the fun at this free festival at the museum and feast your eyes on glorious boats of all shapes and sizes with something for all the family!

Friday 15, Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 April – Australian National Maritime Museum. Festival entry is free. Tickets are available through Eventbrite for special performances, cruises and talks.

For more information and for tickets visit

In association with the 2016 Classic & Wooden Boat Festival, join our maritime photo competition via Instagram #cwbfsydney or via email, by submitting your photo to win cash prizes worth $4600. Each winner will also receive an engraved trophy crafted from a timber spar salvaged from the HMB Endeavour replica.

Jeanneau JY55
M.O.S.S Australia
Cyclops Marine
M.O.S.S Australia