The Voyage of Te Rapunga

Bruny Island Coastal Retreats and Nature Pact together with the help of some fellow sailing enthusiasts have acquired the boat Te Rapunga. Our goal is to realise Erika Grundmann’s “nostalgic vision” - to fully restore and return Te Rapunga to the Sea - her rightful home.

 

We were taken to see Te Rapunga, not in the water where she should have been, but in a front yard...Recognition of her heritage value along with full restoration remains a nostalgic vision.

 
 
 
 
 
Erika Grundmann, Te Rapunga and the Quest of George Dibbern
 

Erika has kept the story afloat by writing in enthralling detail the biography of George Dibbern in her book, Dark Sun: Te Rapunga and the Quest of George Dibbern. This book, together with George’s own book, Quest, inspired us to go out and find this remarkable boat. A small 32-foot ketch that travelled vast distances without motor or communications, from Germany to New Zealand onto Bruny Island and beyond, placing George at the mercy of strangers and the vicissitudes of the ocean - the world’s ultimate medium of connection.

Nothing better immerses in and harmonises with the forces of nature than a wooden sailing boat. We felt that this little “bathtub” of a boat, the vessel of George’s spiritual quest, deserves a better fate than to languish in a suburban front yard in Auckland. So, we have taken up the challenge to refloat Te Rapunga, bringing it back to Tasmania, where the art of wooden boatbuilding, itself at risk of disappearing, still burns brightly. This project is a joint celebration of both the boat’s restoration and the craft that makes her salvation possible.

In a world of growing political polarisation and discord, we also felt that George’s message of global citizenship and his life’s purpose to be a bridge of goodwill, to be of particular pertinence and could do with some amplification.

The sea epitomises island life, wooden boats and the tradition of exploration. Seafaring vessels have always been crucial to Bruny Island, connecting it, at times in surprising ways, to a world otherwise so isolated from it.

We are fascinated by the hidden histories and local stories that form part of our cultural landscape, especially those that interact harmoniously with the natural environment.

In the vein of the early explorer’s, naturalist’s and expeditioners, we are setting sail in our little bath tub of a boat on a voyage of discovery, not knowing where the journey will take us or what we will learn.

We invite you to join us in our foray to delve deeper into the ever-increasing web of connections and associations, to appreciate the poetry of nature, and to use history to give place and landscape a connectedness, in a new and exciting way.

 

I know the day will come when once more I sail into your beautiful harbour. Put your faces towards the sea and watch for a little sail on the horizon.

 
 
 
 
 
George Dibbern on leaving Hobart,
Mercury, 6 March 1935
 
For further updates on the restoration of Te Rapunga, keep an eye on this page, follow us at Facebook and Instagram, or receive updates in your email by subscribing to the Bruny Island Journal.

If you have any information regarding George or Te Rapunga - we would love to hear from you at info@brunyisland.com.au