Our August 2013 Club Night featured Craig Bramich, Director of Seaworks, who gave an informative talk on the current status of the organisation.

The Seaworks project began with strong support from the State Government, but with the departure of Steve Bracks as Premier nine years ago interest and support from the government waned. Parks Victoria have control of the site and operate as “landlord” to Seaworks who have a 25 year lease. The buildings are old and decaying. Many are non-compliant with modern regulations and so on.

A new board has taken control of Seaworks and there is more development activity occurring. There is only one staff member, the Executive Officer, Therese.

Sea Shepherd Foundation now have a five year lease to use Seaworks as their base and are working on improving some of the buildings for their own use.

The boat building school is making some progress in becoming viable in the longer term with some staff from the closed Newport TAFE.

The Pirates Tavern also earns revenue for Seaworks and hosting of major events such as the Harley Davidson Centenary and the Eede Festival have helped to make Seaworks financially viable as well as creating links with the community.

The Tall Ships Festival 6th – 13th Sept. Will also be valuable in this regard but it is only one event in five years. More regular events are needed. A major project has been the preservation of marine artefacts and books from the Polly Woodside collection. The National Trust was unable to afford the storage costs of these items and had begun to auction them off. Seaworks managed to find $14,000 and used the money to buy as much of this collection as possible. As a result 5,000 books, thousands of photos, a microfiche collection, a set of Lloyds of London Registers dating from 1838 and other items have been added to the Seaworks collection and await sorting and classifying. There are hundreds of hours work in this.

The current projects are to install new signage, lighting, solar panels and water tanks. There is no volunteer base to call on for this work and the Board is not sure it wants to develop one. The Master Plan for continued development at Seaworks is still being written and should be out soon.

Leigh McNolty

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