Miniature making is a big hobby at GemLife

Gordon Ray took up model making in the 1970s and has returned to it in his retirement. (supplied)

Few people can boast owning a Spanish galleon, a paddlewheel drogher, a couple of sail boats and an amphibious combat vehicle – let alone claim to have built them by hand – but Gordon Ray can.

The GemLife Woodend over-50s lifestyle resort homeowner is currently building a model of the Santa Maria, the 15th century caravel which was one of the three ships that Christopher Columbus used on his journey to the New World.

Learning the history of the boats he builds is all part of the enjoyment of modelmaking, which Gordon says he first took up in the early 1970s and then came back to in 2009.

“The models I build are about three feet in length and they’re built from scratch,” said Gordon. “The only exception is a plastic model of amphibious combat vehicle.”

Using plywood, along with wooden ice cream craft sticks, the larger models such as a Spanish galleon can take up to one year to make.

“I start by looking around the internet to see what I’d like to build first then look for plans, good profile images, and scale up from that,” says Gordon. “The models are fairly detailed but not like museum quality pieces. I call them ten-footers because they look at their very best from ten feet away.”

One of Gordon’s models holds special significance – a replica of the river-going drogher, a flat-bottomed with paddle wheels at the rear.

“My great grandfather was captain of one of these vessels in the NSW Hunter Valley,” he said.

“These cargo vessels plied the Clarence and Richmond Rivers, taking cargo from the ports to the communities situated upriver.”

Gordon’s models are more than just gorgeous to look at, they’re also designed to sail on lakes as well.

“The models of tall-masted ships like the caravel are difficult to sail because one gust of wind can capsize them,” he said. “They’ll go out on the water a couple of times before being put up on display.”

The last of GemLife Woodend’s final stage home sites are selling now. Each site features one of a selection of three-bedroom home designs with between 187sqm to 212sqm of living space, a generous array of premium inclusions and designer finishes plus a 6-star energy rating. 

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