2010 Melbourne Boat Show opens today

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Organisers celebrate the show's 50th anniversary

2010 Melbourne Boat Show opens today
Melbourne Boat Show opens today

The Annual BIA Melbourne Boat Show will celebrate half a century when it opens its doors today and to mark the occasion the organisers will display a fascinating selection of historical marine memorabilia.

The BIA Victoria display will include classic boats from the event’s earliest years, photographs, programs and boats from the 50 Shows, all of which are said to parallel the BIA’s own 50-year history.

Back in 1961, boat prices ranged from £30 to £6000 ($60 to $12,000) and the venue dated back to 1880 — but the boats were then, as now, the latest available from Australia and around the world. The event was promoted as "the ideal family outing" with ample parking.

"Professionals, amateurs, mums, dads, kids and all, will find hours of absorbing interest at this educational display," the original advertisements proclaimed.

"International boating trends from world manufacturers" were on show, with sailing craft, speedboats, dinghies, runabouts and cabin cruisers — plus a competition for the best photograph of the "Girl in the bikini".

The Show’s early days marked major changes in boating, with deep-vee hulls and fibreglass dominating by the mid ‘60s and beginning a trend which has continued ever since.

By the mid ‘70s the fashionable trim colours were pale purple and burnt green, and a 14ft runabout could be purchased complete with trailer and 60hp outboard for less than $3000.

In 1978 the BIA Victoria bought the show from Trevor Riddell of Riddell Exhibitions Promotions Pty Ltd, and in 1996 it moved to the new Melbourne Exhibition Centre.

The 50th Annual BIA Melbourne Boat Show runs from Thursday, July 1 to Monday, July 5. Doors are open from 10am daily, with ticket prices held at last year’s levels and special half-centennial discounts for online ticket buyers.

Online ticketing offers a $2 discount on all adult and concession tickets, a $1 children’s ticket, and a special $25 two-day pass available only online. Visitors will also have the chance to win one of "50 prizes for 50 years" which can include anything from sunglasses to fishing rods to lifejackets to a Hobie kayak.

The Melbourne Exhibition Centre is located at Clarendon Street in Southbank (Melway Map 1C Ref G5). Visit www.biavic.com.au/melbourneboatshow/ for more information.

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