Bob Hillier with his replica of the clipper Thermopylae.
Bob Hillier with his replica of the clipper Thermopylae. Darryn Smith

Gift in spotlight at parliament

BUNDABERG model boat builder Bob Hillier found himself in an unusual spotlight at state parliament yesterday when the Ministerial Gifts Register was tabled.

The register, which records the gifts Queensland government ministers received, showed a wooden model of the Bounty that Mr Hillier gave Premier Anna Bligh in August last year was the third most valuable gift she received, at $1200.

It came in just behind a $5500 traditional Torres Strait head-dress from artist George Nona, and a $1600 opal necklace from Winton mayor Ed Warren.

Ms Bligh is the great-great-great-great-grand-daughter of Captain William Bligh, who was famously kicked off the Bounty by a mutinous crew.

Mr Hillier, who is now 83, said it took him 700 hours to make the model of the Bounty.

“I said to her you're not getting this for any political reason, you're getting this because you're a descendant,” he said.

“I said if she didn't want it she could give it back, but she gave me a big hug.”

Mr Hillier said he had built four Bountys in the 20 years he had been building models because he thought it was a nice ship.

He was also a big fan of Captain Bligh.

Mr Hillier said because of the mutiny, Captain Bligh's reputation had been blackened over the years, when in fact first mate Fletcher Christian was the real villain.

“He was an extraordinary captain and an extraordinary navigator,” he said.

Mr Hillier said he had built about 60 model ships over the years.

“I was a shipwright and naval architect by trade,” he said.

“A lot of the time you can't get plans for these ships, but if I can get a good picture I can draw up the plans then scale them down to whatever scale I want.”

However, health problems had forced him to give up his hobby this year.

“I'm bored to tears now,” he said.



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