THE Mighty Mouse of the Murray has returned to Mildura.

PS Minimus, a 1/5 scale model of a 30-metre paddlesteamer believed to be the smallest of its kind in Australia, arrived in town yesterday for the PS Melbourne Centenary River Festival.

Owner Jeff Walker, 73, and his wife Dot frequently travel from their home in Geelong with the vessel in tow for river “festivals and functions” like the Melbourne’s 100th anniversary celebrations this weekend.

“We went to PS Industry’s centenary in Renmark last year, Ruby’s recommissioning … all those kinds of things,” Mrs Walker said.

Mr Walker “designed and built the superstructure himself”, a process that took about 18 months.

“The boiler alone took nine months,” he said, the only major component he did not make himself.

For practical reasons, Minimus’ boiler and paddles are not to scale, but Mrs Walker said that with those exceptions the scale model is as true to form as possible.

Eight years on from its maiden launch, what began as a post-retirement project has now become a one-of-a-kind craft, unique in diminutiveness and design.

“(Jeff) knew he was going to retire and wanted a project; he used to make model boats but his hands weren’t as flexible as they used to be so he wanted to do something bigger,” Mrs Walker explained.

“He had heard about model boats you can sit in so he looked at doing that for steamers and got the idea from there.

“Jeff has always been an engineer-type fellow, always been interested in mechanical things.”

Mrs Walker said she was unaware of any similar

vessels that are smaller than theirs.

“You always hear someone has built a small one, but they are never as small,” she said.

Aside from its miniature size, the PS Minimus is made more unique by its “feathering paddle wheels,” a “more economic” alternative to traditional paddle wheels.

“They are the only ones in Australia, as far as I know,” said Mr Walker of the wheels, which he constructed himself.

For more of this story, purchase your copy of Saturday’s Sunraysia Daily 08/09/2012.

Little visit: Geelong couple Jeff and Dot Walker with their boat the PS Minimus.Picture: Clancy Shipsides

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