Australian Power Boat Racing History
Ode to Graeme Williamson

We had the pleasure of catching up with Scott Williamson, when he called into the GILFLITE factory to say ‘Gidday’ – a while ago. During Scott’s visit with myself and Dad (David Gill), I asked Scott if he would provide me with some photos and info about his Dads boat racing days so we could pay him a tribute in ‘Boat Talk’ by GILFLITE and ensure that Graeme’s memory lived on as he had worked at GILFLITE for many years before retiring. Highly regarded by David Gill as being one of the best, and most highly skilled at doing what he did in the industry.

I remember: Often on my way to the tea room from my office as I walked through the factory I would see in my passing a cloud of dust and the puffs of smoke from the red glow of the end of a cigarette hanging out of the mouth of Graeme, as he gradually appeared from the aura of fibreglass dust that surrounded him while he worked.

(Note: photos in this article relate to a period before this time).

Graeme was a very talented man in his profession, yet a man of few words. A smile and a nod from Graeme was like winning the lottery, it felt like a real sense of approval from a bloke who simply got on with the job.

 Graeme was certainly very economical with his words so we decided, why not pitch his story the same way.  He was more of a doer than a talker!  I always enjoyed getting a smile out of him and to this day, never forget his words of wisdom which ring truer and truer for me as the years go by.  One year on my birthday, Graeme said to me “the older you get, the faster time goes by” ……….

FOLLOWING STORY: Words written from the heart by Scott Williamson (Son of Graeme Williamson).

November 2022 – via email

Hi Paula,

Dad was born on the 13th of December 1938 and died on the 18th of Feb 2021. 

I’ve been told dad built Manta Ray 2 for Len Arnott but kept it after a payment dispute, I think that was around 1979, I’m pretty sure it’s his own design but inspired by others around at the time .

Dad had the Big crash at Yarrawonga in 1979/80 races.

The 2 unlimited hulls he built for Ron Burton were both  US Ron Jones designs. 

Dad started on Aussie Bud in Scoresby in 1984 and Aussie Endeavour I think in 1993. Dad wasn’t involved in the conversion from Merlin power to turbine.

 John Wellwood, and Brett Martin were also involved in the build. John took care of the Merlin and Brett the electrical. Bob Buchanan who drove fast/r also did a bit of fibreglass work and I was also fortunate to have a bit of part time work on the boat.

I know Dad had a hydro named Snoopy before Manta Ray 2 but others that he built or drove I’m not sure of, your dad might remember.  John Wellwood might be able to provide more info or Ian Harvey.

 I can’t really offer to much info on Dad or anecdotes as I didn’t grow up with him and he was very economical with his words.

 I always enjoyed  it when I was able to go to the races though and that I  got to experience the Thunderboat era.

I hope you had have enough to work with, If I think of something, I’ll let you know.

Cheers, Scott 

Manta Ray VS 65 – Photo Gallery below

Aussie Endeavor VS 22 – Photo Gallery below

Aussie Bud VS 22 – Photo Gallery below

Words by Scott Williamson: Dad (Graeme Williamson) built this (Aussie Bud) for Ron Burton in 1984 at his (Graeme’s) factory in Scoresby, this was to replace Miss Bud, I can’t remember exactly when? But it was destroyed in a crash at lake Learmonth after only a few race meetings .

Sometime between Aussie Bud  being destroyed and Dad starting on Aussie Endeavour there was another mould  that Dad started on for a different unlimited, but Ron changed his mind and whatever Dad had built was scrapped . 

I took most of the photos in the factory and at lake Boga, Max Lamb let me copy the better quality shots he took at Lake Learmonth.


Just to clarify John Wellwood and Brett Martin worked on Aussie Endeavour not Aussie Bud, also with Manta Ray 2 some of those photos are from when Len Arnott flipped it at Melton, that’s what I was told by Lee Kavanagh, Len must have had the boat briefly before Dad took it back.

 After Dad had the Big crash at Yarrawonga he rebuilt it replacing the sponson that was ripped off, he did race it again after the rebuild, you can see it in the colour shot without the engine that the sponson has been repainted.

 Someone sent me that photo of the boat after dad sold it to someone in NSW, repainted as the Tramp. I’ve since be told that the boat has been destroyed..

Cheers, Scott 

Photos and information courtesy: Scott Williamson (Son of Graeme).
Presented by: GillGirl Productions – Paula Gill – (GILFLITE) – as supplied by Scott in November 2022
Thanks Scott, your words and photos add to the memory of another Legend of Australian Power Boat Racing – to go down in History!