Australia: Melbourne International Tall Ships Festival

Melbourne International Tall Ships Festival

Sailors from HMAS Cerberus saw seagoing vessels in a very different light when they attended the 2013 Melbourne International Tall Ships Festival between 6-15 September.

Chief Petty Officer Danny Mulheron headed up the Navy Community Engagement Team, which fielded questions from seasoned sailors through to the newly interested.

With the event being held in Williamstown, the most popular questions revolved around the Navy’s newest addition NUSHIP Canberra – which has long been an impressive visual fixture in the port of Melbourne.

“The interest from the public was overwhelming. Once they’d had a chance to walk along the wharf and look at the fantastic tall ships tied up either side, it was like going back to another era.”

“Then they’d look approximately 200 meters across the way and see the profile of NUSHIP Canberra. It’s a stunning comparison of where we’ve been to where we’re going,” said CPO Mulheron.

Taking advantage of such a significant milestone, sailors from Cerberus and the Navy’s Community Engagement Team manned their own display showcasing today’s Navy and speaking with crowds on careers and lifestyle. The comparison between life on a tall ship to that of current conditions was the hot topic of most visiting the festival.

“The festival organisers made an effort to get into the period with shanty themes and costumes which really helped the crowds get into the swing of things.”

“Funnily though, it took most people a while to realise that we weren’t actors in costume. When we explained that we really were in the Navy, it just opened the floodgates on the questions,” CPO Mulheron said.

The Festival drew impressive crowds of over 16,000 people who stopped to see the classic sailing icons. The waterfront was crowded with sails and masts of varying sizes affording a glimpse into the conditions in which sailors started their affinity with the sea.

Four Australian tall ships, STS Young Endeavour, the Windeward Bound, Soren Larsen and Melbourne’s own Enterprize, took part in the festival, along with three Dutch vessels and the Lord Nelson British tall ship. Event organisers claim the festival is the biggest fleet of tall ships to dock in Williamstown in about 100 years.

Press Release, September 11, 2013; Image: Australian Navy