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Passion for paddleboats spans three decades

Heathcote's Denis Carroll has a love of building boats.

BARBARA SUNGAILA February 22, 2013 4:40am

Heathcote's Denis Carroll shows off the paddle boat he built. Photo: Monique Preston.


Heathcote’s Denis Carroll’s passion for paddleboats began more than 30 years ago.

That love for boats has resulted in him building two boats, the most recent of which was sold last week.

‘‘I think I always had a bit of a romantic interest in steam, probably from the early days,’’ he said.

‘‘We used to go to Echuca and steam was the big thing up in Echuca of course.’’

His first boat was built over 12 years while he was still working as a builder.

‘‘The idea was that when I retired, my wife and I would retire on the river,’’ he said.

‘‘But my wife’s a professional dressmaker and you can’t really do bridals and debutantes and all that sort of stuff when you’re travelling around.

‘‘It never ever got to that stage so I sold it to a farmer over in Murray Bridge in South Australia, and we became family friends and still are. Not long after, he started to talk me into building another boat.’’

For the past four years, Mr Carroll has worked on his second boat.

‘‘This boat was built purely on that basis, but I’d retired by then and I love that sort of work and it gave me something to do,’’ he said.

This second paddle wheeler has just been sold to a buyer from Yarrawonga to go on Lake Mulwala.

‘‘It was not quite finished,’’ Mr Carroll said.

‘‘It was a staged job, and the next stage was very expensiveit’s the hydraulic system and very expensive to do. So I put it on the internet as a work in progress and found a buyer.’’

The boat has been something of a local landmark.

‘‘I’ve had such a lot of people over a long period of time stop their cars, slow down, some of them get out,’’ he said.

‘‘The last thing you expect to see if you’re driving in a little country town like this is — hello, there’s a great big boat sitting there.’’

Mr Carroll said he would not be building another boat although he would miss the work and the challenge of the building process.

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