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Wednesday 20 January 2016

A race against time to complete a wooden masterpiece

Hidden away in a shed in the Huon Valley, in Tasmania's deep south, are two remarkable pieces of art.

The first is what is believed to be the longest table made from Huon Pine in the world - with a river running through it and capable of seating 50 people for dinner.

The other is an organically-shaped building designed to float on the Huon River that has been a labour of love for local carpenter and boatbuilder Robert Sweeney for the past three years.

The amazing design was part of a five-year plan but Rob was recently diagnosed with liver cancer and has only a short time to live. He may not see the completion of his "floating wooden masterpiece".

He tells the story: "Two months ago l was feeling ill and saw my doctor, he ordered some tests (MRI) which lead to the detection of cancer of the liver, which is terminal and my time on this planet has been severely shortened, so time is precious.

"My present condition has meant I’ve had to stop all commercial work which was been funding the project; my life expectancy has been severely reduced so I'm unable to earn the money to continue the task.

"Fortunately, my wonderful and dedicated sons and grandsons are also amazing carpenters so with their loving help it will be feasible to launch this project onto the Huon River within my life."

Friends of Rob Sweeney, an eccentric and much-loved character in both Cygnet and the Huon Valley, are seeking financial assistance to make his dream a reality as soon as possible.

So far the building, which is designed to float on a barge at Woodstock and Petcheys Bay, has consumed 10 tonnes of hand-crafted ancient Huon Pine. The structure is magnificent, finely detailed and beautifully hand-crafted with finesse.

This extraordinary project, which I saw for the first time this week, has captured the imagination of all who have seen it. 

There will be an open day at the shed on Lymington Road, Cygnet, on Sunday, January 31, from 1-5pm. For further info or donations contact Zara Creative on 0432082631 or see

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