Col's grand endeavour
COL South figures he'd have to reach the ripe old age of 140 before all his projects are finished.
While the 69-year-old is unlikely to reach that milestone, one thing is certain: he's already created a wonderful world of models few of us would ever have the patience to complete.
You name them, he's made them and all with intricate precision: from whaleboats and two-masted schooners to armed pinnaces and ceremonial ships.
“I've been building models for 35 to 40 years. I just like working with my hands,” Col told The Advocate at his Moonee home.
His favorite by far is a famous vessel which has taken him nearly seven years to bring to life - an authentic 1/24th scale replica of HM Bark Endeavour.
The retired schoolteacher says he'll be 'very satisfied' when he completes the mammoth project in six months.
His wife, Jacqui, will make a set of sails.
“Even if I did no more on it, I'd be very happy with it,” Col said.
“It's turned out better than I thought it would.”
Col's eldest son would love to have it in his home, but Col will offer it to the
National Library in Can- berra, where Captain Cook's journal is displayed in the foyer.
Col's Endeavour is two metres long, 1.8 metres high from the bottom of the keel to the top of the mast, and has nearly 1km of rigging and 2830 wooden nails.
“I've built it the same as the original would have been built.
“Everything on it works and everything is to scale,” Col said.
“The good thing about what I do is the number of problems you have to solve.
"The wheel took me three weeks to build.”
He reckons if Cook was still alive, even he'd be happy with how it's turned out.
“I think he'd be pretty pleased someone took the time to do it. I would really have loved to have met him,” he said.
“I'm a Captain Cook tragic.
“Once you start the research on Cook, you learn what the man achieved.”
Model boats aren't Col's only pre-occupation - he has a grand model railway gracing the same studio as Endeavour and he's also a talented painter and sketch-artist.
“You have to have something to do. I don't ever stand around doing nothing,” Col said.
“A man's got to have a hobby.”
Col's an old Dorrigo boy who realised in his teens he wanted to teach woodworking.
He graduated from Sydney Teachers' College as a manual arts teacher in 1960 and asked to be sent to the bush but was instead posted to Cabramatta High School.
He also earned his industrial arts graduate diploma from part-time studies at the University of NSW.
He went on to teach at Merrylands High, was promoted as industrial arts head teacher at Bonnyrigg High School and then deputy principal at Prairiewood High before becoming principal of Eaglevale High School at Campbelltown.
“I loved kids and I believed industrial arts teachers were in a lot of ways some of these kids' last chance of getting an education - they weren't going to university,” Col said.
He also became the Education Department's leatherwork expert and sat on a Federal Government taskforce to develop TAFE-accredited subjects in the early '90s.
After a stint at Blacktown's staffing HQ, he taught at East Hills Boys Technical High School, where the star pupil was future swimming champion Ian Thorpe.
Col retired in 1999.
“By then I'd had enough. The system had reached a stage where it wasn't like it used to be,” Col said.
“In the old days, you felt the system was there to support you. Now, it's not.”
Col and Jacqui built their dream home at Heritage Park.
And as you would expect, Col made almost all of the household furnishings.
“I had to do that before I was allowed to work on the passion of building the Endeavour,” he laughed.