Queensland's premier boat show sails back to home port

Back to the future, from left Queensland marine industry stalwarts, Greg Nickerson, his father Keith, Barry Nichols who wagged school to attend the first boat show held at the RNA Showgrounds and his son Darren with newspaper clippings and photographs from the early Brisbane Boat Shows held at the RNA Showgrounds.
A little over 50 years ago, a young Barry Nichols wagged school to visit the first Brisbane Boat Show held at the RNA Showgrounds.

Today, he returned to the same spot with other inter-generational boat show supporters including his son, Darren from Wynnum Marine and Northside Marine ownership identities, Keith and Greg Nickerson.

Barry’s father, Roy who was the co-founder of CruiseCraft boats, mounted the first Wynnum Marine Stand at the Brisbane Boat Show; Greg’s father Keith did likewise for Northside Marine.

All have held executive positions with the peak body representing the industry, Marine Queensland which is hosting this year’s show at the RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane from Friday September 6 to Monday September 9.

Today, after having been brought up in a boat show culture, Greg Nickerson is President of Marine Queensland and Darren Nichols is a Brisbane Boat Show committee member.

'That first show at the RNA, we were in the Wool Pavilion and then the next year, we were in the Horticultural Pavilion,' Barry recalled.

'Those early shows included boats on display from International Marine which made the Caribbean, Bertram and Pride boats; there was Morgan and Wacker who had Mercury outboards; Olympic Marine from Eight Mile Plains and Noble’s Marine from James Street in Fortitude Valley,' he said.

'Breakfast Creek was the hub of marine dealers back then.'

Barry later went to work with his father in the business which now is in the hands of the third generation of the Nichols family; Keith began Northside Marine at Rainbow Street, Sandgate before moving it to Braun Street, Deagon after which Greg purchased the business and later expanded it into a marine megastore on Sandgate Road at Boondall.

Barry said: 'For those first boat shows, we used to paint the floor for our stand to make it look nice - we made our own paint rollers, used four, one gallon tins of paint and hoped it would be dry enough by the next morning when we brought the boats in to set up the stand.'

'The boat show used to start at midday and finish at 10 pm – there would be that many people there, you would be in a corner and couldn’t move.'

A large crowd crushing into a couple of pavilions won’t be a problem at this year’s Brisbane Boat Show – the show will have an area of 19,000 square metres of indoor and outdoor space in a newly redeveloped RNA Showgrounds.

That display area equates to almost three rugby league fields and includes a new convention development and a plaza.

The most significant changes to boat shows which Barry has seen over those 50 years?

'The technology,' he said.

'Dad used to tow me around on a door that I used as a toboggan, behind a boat he had built –a tiller steer dinghy with a seven and a half horsepower Scott McCullough outboard. It did about 12 miles an hour,' Barry said.

'But at this year’s boat show we’ll see high tech wake boards and ski equipment, magnificent boats and 300hp outboards.'

'I can remember going up to the Toowoomba Foundry with dad where they had a very big fishing club. Dad used to build these little bondwood dinghies and he would sort out a deal with the fishing club for them.'

'But the Brisbane Boat Show has seen the transition from those early wooden boats to materials like fibreglass, aluminium, carbon fibre and plastics as well as incredible developments in electronics.'

'We’ve also seen the launch of new, very specialised craft like fishing and touring kayaks.'

'But there are two things which stay the same – firstly, that there’s always so many new things to see at a Brisbane Boat Show and secondly, that they are all in the one place at special boat show prices.'

'It could be in the boats themselves or the motors, electronics, sailing equipment, fishing gear, books or magazines.'

The Brisbane Boat Show (previously known as the Telegraph Boat Show), was held at the RNA Showgrounds from 1962 to 1996 after an initial exhibition at Brisbane City Hall in 1961. The boat show was held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre from 1997 to 2012 and this year returns to the RNA Showgrounds.

More at www.brisbaneboatshow.com.au
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