Meet our 2024 AWDF Partners
After two decades as an exhibition, we are excited to expand this year's event into a Festiva format. The 2024 Australian Wood Design Festival would not be possible without the support of our sponsors and community partners. It's not too late to support the event!
Australian Wood Design Festival (AWDF)
The 2024 Australian Wood Design Festival (AWDF) will run from 8th March - 15th April 2024. Makers, artists, wood workers and creators are encouraged to commence production of between 1 and 3 items (sets count as 1 item) for entry now.
Late entries will be considered. Submit an entry form to email@example.com
Become a Partner
The AWDF has a rich history of supporting and showcasing the best of Australian Woodwork and Orbost, East Gippsland.
If that’s a mission you’d like to be aligned with, we would love to hear from you.
Over 2,000 (and growing) people attend the AWDF.
We are a community-run not-for-profit and DGR registered. Get in touch if you'd like to make a tax deductible donation, discuss a presenting rights or other partnership option.
Attend the Festival
Exhibition runs 8th March - 15th April 2024 in Orbost, Victoria. A range of ticketed Meet-the-Maker and Woodworking Workshops are also on offer this year. See the program and get tickets here.
Located in the wild, wild east with mountains and coast at your doorstep, now is the perfect time to plan your trip opening or closing weekend.
For updates about the exhibition, let us know you're coming and we'll send updates directly to your inbox
History of the Australian Wood Design Exhibition
The Australian Wood Design Exhibition (AWDE) has a long-standing history that dates back to its inception in 1993. Nestled in the heart of Orbost, renowned at that time for its timber industry and abundant hardwood resources, the AWDE has been instrumental in showcasing the exquisite craftsmanship and artistic excellence of Australian timber design.
The exhibition owes its origins to the formation of the Woodworkers of Orbost and District (WOOD) Inc, a passionate group of individuals with a deep love for working with wood. They recognised the need to bring together woodworkers and the hardwood industry to promote the exceptional quality of Australian timbers while ensuring the sustainability of our renewable resources. From the outset, the AWDE's philosophy has been to emphasise timbers that are not rare or endangered, highlighting the importance of responsible and ethical practices in woodworking.
In 1993, the inaugural AWDE took place in a community hall in Orbost, attracting participants from local, state, and national levels. The response was overwhelming, and the exhibition quickly established itself as a major attraction in the area. The success of the event inspired the Woodworkers of Orbost and District (WOOD) Inc to envision a permanent space that could showcase wood design year-round.
In 2003/2004, this vision became a reality with the construction of the Orbost Exhibition Centre (OEC) on the picturesque banks of the Snowy River. The OEC was spearheaded by WOOD Inc, with support from federal and state governments, the East Gippsland Shire Council, the Foundation for Regional and Rural Renewal (FRRR), the Sydney Myer Fund, and the generous contributions of the Orbost community. Donated East Gippsland timbers from local industries were used in the construction, along with countless hours of in-kind labour from dedicated committee members.
The Orbost Exhibition Centre was designed to serve as a hub for wood design enthusiasts and the local community. It not only hosts the Orbost Wood Design Exhibition but also acts as a versatile space, encompassing a public gallery, a performance venue, and a point of sale for local woodworkers, artists, and tourist trade items. The OEC stands as a testament to sustainable design practices, with its environmentally sound and site-specific architecture, a result of years of research and lobbying efforts by WOOD Inc and dedicated locals.
Since its establishment, the AWDE has attracted a diverse range of woodworkers, artists, and enthusiasts, drawing entries from near and far. Each year, one exceptional piece is selected to become part of the prestigious National Collection, joining the OEC' permanent collection of works on display year-round. This collection showcases the diversity of wood design, with a focus on the use of Australian hardwood timbers, and represents a first for Victoria.
Over the years, the AWDE has faced challenges, including the impact of bushfires, volunteer availability, and the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the resilience and dedication of the organisers have ensured the exhibition's continued success. In the face of adversity, the local community and shopkeepers rallied together, allowing the artwork to be displayed in shop windows during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the OEC couldn't be open to the public. This collaborative spirit showcases the strong bonds forged between the OEC and the wider Orbost community. Since 2020, due to the pandemic impacts and volunteer fatigue, the decision was made to run the AWDE bi-annually. Though a hard decision to make, it has ensured the AWDE continues to grow and change as needed.
The AWDE has garnered a reputation for its high calibre of craftsmanship and artistry, attracting visitors from all corners of the globe. Many return year after year, captivated by the beauty and innovation displayed in the exhibited works. The exhibition not only provides a platform for artists to showcase their talents but also fosters economic growth within the community. The influx of visitors benefits local businesses, while artists gain exposure and often secure commissions for their outstanding creations.
In recognition of its significance and impact, the Australian Wood Design Exhibition was awarded Event of the Year on Australia Day 1999, solidifying its status as a premier event in the region.
We invite you to immerse yourself in the captivating world of timber artistry at the Australian Wood Design Exhibition. Experience the ingenuity, craftsmanship, and sustainable beauty of Australian wood design as it unfolds in this unique and inspiring exhibition. Join us in celebrating the talent and creativity of woodworkers and artists from near and far. Plan your visit to Orbost and be enchanted by the magic of timber by visiting our permanent collection or attending the next AWDE.
2024 Judge Panel
All of our judges for the 2024 AWDE are kindly volunteering their time to support the event. Keep your eye out for when the full program is announced in February (RSVP for updates here) - some of our Judges are running Meet the Maker sessions this year.
A third generation wood worker with a passion for beautiful timbers and the details that make them sing, Phoebe is a professional designer/maker based in central Victoria. Her style is influenced by a passion for Japanese and Shaker design, the blend of which gives a clean, crisp aesthetic.
With a background in carpentry and renovations, Phoebe holds a Certificate IV in Furniture Design & Technology and has been both an artist in residence and senior tutor at the Sturt School for Wood. Phoebe is proud to be the first accredited female designer/maker in Studio Woodworkers Australia (SWA), is a member of the Victorian Woodworkers and was the Chair of SWA from 2014-2018. She has exhibited widely, has experience judging and is a frequent contributor to woodworking publications and spoken at woodworking events.
Phoebe is a passionate teacher and mentor and runs a well established furniture making school in Central Victoria.
John McMahon is a wood artist located in Berwick, Victoria. He has been turning and shaping wood since 1996. He has won a number of awards, including the prestigious Peter Robson award for turned lidded containers, and his work is featured in the permanent collection of the Australian Wood Design Exhibition. His work is also held in a number of private collections internationally, including Italy, France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, New Zealand, China, and Japan.
John prefers to work with recycled and reclaimed native timbers, and adds value to a scarce resource by utilising commercially non-viable timber blanks. Gippsland Blackwood, Murray River Redgum, and Western Australian Jarrah are favorites, as well as burl wood from various species, and small offcuts of Tasmanian timbers. Recovered exotics from urban gardens, and recycled structural timbers also feature in his work.
Shane began his working career in Melbourne as an apprentice turner and fitter and landscape gardener before finding his true calling - woodturning.
More than 20 years ago he bought his first woodturning lathe, and adopting the title of "The Timber Wolf", set out on a voyage of woodworking discovery. Nowadays his backyard holds one of the largest collections of natural wood burls in Australia, and his factory is littered with amazing wooden artworks stacked nearby to the tools and equipment he uses daily to create them.
Having made his home in Lakes Entrance, Shane can always find time to indulge in his other love, fishing. It is this balance of work and recreation that has enabled him to continue for so many years, and for hopefully many more to come.
This is the second time Shane is contributing as a Judge to the Australian Wood Design Exhibition.