The dream of building a full-scale replica of Ben Boyd’s top-sail schooner, Wanderer, at Boydtown, is without doubt both romantic and inspirational. There are also compelling social and economic reasons why the embattled project must be kept afloat.
To a large extent, Eden is pinning its future on the ongoing success of the tourism and cruise ship industries. But president of the Wanderer project Chris Nicholls makes a valid point – once they arrive, tourists must have something to see.
Imagine Eden with a drawcard the likes of a tall ship (and, dare we say it, a regional art gallery in a restored Hotel Australasia).
The Wanderer replica would be a perfect match for the Eden Killer Whale Museum, Eden Whale Festival and Bundian Way. Above all, it would tell the story of Eden's pioneering days and the strong maritime traditions on which the town and its surrounds has been built.
To coin a phrase from the movie Field of Dreams, “build it and they will come”.
The benefits a tall ship would afford Indigenous and disadvantaged youth are untold.
The Wanderer replica project has already captured the imagination of many high-profile people, including Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Lady Cosgrove during their visit to Eden in April.
And local supporters and volunteers have worked long – six years in fact – and hard – none harder that shipwright Morrie Lynch – to progress their dream. But no amount of goodwill is able to replace the need for a solid business plan to steer the mammoth task of building the tall ship and ensure its ongoing viability.
Launched in 1837, the original Wanderer brought Scottish entrepreneur Ben Boyd to Twofold Bay. He became the country’s largest landholder, spectacularly lost one million pounds in 10 years, fled Australia, only to be eaten by cannibals in the Pacific.
The building of a replica of Captain James Cook's ship, HM Bark Endeavour, in Fremantle in the 1990s proves that such ambitious projects are possible.
But there are lessons to be learnt from the experience. Originally the dream of another colourful entrepreneur, Alan Bond, the demise of Bond Corporation saw the project only saved by a charitable trust. Endeavour’s final cost was a mighty $17million.
The wreck of the original Wanderer lies off Port Macquarie. It is hoped that plans to build its replica do not meet a similar fate at the bottom of Twofold Bay.