Lamberton Street - Year On

Readers will  recall that we purchased this slightly down-at-heel 3 bedroom elevated home  in early July 2006 having failed to secure a builder willing to build our dream home here in Yeppoon.  We had spent our first months attending to the engineering and structural integrity of the house just in time for the arrival of our furniture on 15 August which was immediately put back into storage: but this time under this house.

Removalist did not attempt to drive up our  steep and challenging driveway

Initial mess downstairs - it got better over the year ie worse

 Harry Stapleton (ex Darwin) arrived in late August 2006 with the intention of also settling here in Yeppoon.  Unfortunately, he found the greedy real estate market had priced him initially out of the market.  It was agreed that he would stay with us until he was able to secure something in his own right.  The following month we all drove to Brisbane initially to collect Maria's car but also to enable us to pick up the remainder of  Harry's goods and chattels from Copenhurst NSW, where he had previously resided since leaving Darwin.   He eventually (February 2007)  found a nice little house just a  couple of kilometres away in the suburb of Cooee Bay

Harry and JWB enjoy welcoming beer at Lamberton St

Harry assists with the painting of the wretched lattice

Harry's house in Copanhurst NSW

Some of Harry's goods and chattels

Harry on the move again - this time only to Cooee Bay

Harry's house in Cooee Bay

As soon as our water tank and pressure pump arrived in October 2006, we began planting out our seven garden terraces with a variety of fruit and nut trees while the intermittent banks were also cleared and planted out with a variety of tropical and sub-tropical ornamental shrubs.  The impetus for this was primarily to stabilise the steep terrain as well as beautification.  A soil test had revealed that the soil, while rocky was volcanic in origin and therefore capable of supporting alot more exciting and hopefully productive vegetation than the lantana and native weeds we had inherited   and so from something like this:

Rear of house - au naturale'

Ditto but with pillow hanging on clothes line

Bottom 'terrace'

Pruning time for a control freak!


.........we eventually tamed it to look like this:

Barnsey at work shaping our terraces

Getting some ornamental flower beds going

Orchard plantings and mulching well under way along with irrigation lines

Some colour at last - April 2007

As each level was cleared, fertilised and planted it was then also heavily mulched and 19mm irrigation lines laid over them.  Back-breaking work which meant many an early and painful night's rest.  We found an excellent fruit tree nursery at the back of Rockhampton and then relied on local nurseries and markets for our ad hoc selection of ornamental and native shrubs. 

The first stage of plantings lasted till Xmas 2006  when we took time off to welcome daughter Amy down for a holiday at Xmas along with Maria's elder brother Peter who now lives in Noosa.  Later in January, Paula Compton also from Darwin paid us a visit.

Xmas Morning 2006 - Peter Ajani, JWB and Amy

Amy prepares some Xmas cocktails (? Mango Dacquiris) friends Barry and Dick dropped in to share the experience

Later Xmas Morning on the front balcony at Lamberton Street

Lunch at last

Picnic at Waterfall Creek Byfield

Peter and Maria at Waterfall Creek

Picnic and swim at Sandy Point where Harry joined us

Maria and Amy returning from a swim

Maria and Amy Jan 2007

Maria and Paula Compton at Keppel Bay Sailing Club - January 2007

Kelly & Sharon drop in enroute home to Darwin from Foster NSW where they had been living and working for a while

In the New Year, we started on a second wave, this time including a designated vegetable plot.  Harry arrived back just in time to assist.  Because I had already  constructed some steps to the second terrace, I had to manufacturer a 2.5m long wooden ramp to enable us to pull, drag, hump all the necessary mulch and assorted gardening and irrigation paraphernalia which goes with such a vertically challenging horticultural block.  Later still, I decided to construct with the aid of a couple of snatch blocks, a pulley line to assist with these chores.

MHB with Alby our 93 year old Water Diviner - alas we have been unable todate to secure a mobile water driller able to drill a bore for us

MHB, sporting her new Brisbane Lions supporters socks' tames our weeds with new Whipper Snipper

Pegging out Vegetable Garden - now this really tested my maths and ability to use a spirit level

MHB & Harry - the reliable firm of chippies

Well ; almost level

Made it!

Then we had to lug 3m3 of garden soil intothe vegetable garden and later 2m3 o river pebbles were dragged up for additional landscaping effect.

This labour was made easier after I constructed a about building the pyramids!

We needed to lug the generator up the hill to power the rented Kanga Hammer

MHB and Kanga Hammer used to dig holes for new tow line

Tow line for dragging horticultural and irrigation supplies to top of block

Snatch Blocks top and bottom

The planting and landscaping of the rear terraces became an ongoing 'work in progress' and for a while, there did not seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel. I set up a Garden Diary on the computer in order to keep track of our daily rainfall, plantings, fertilising and spraying programs.  Without a water bore, we were to become dependent to a large extent on town water but this all had to be reticulated first into the water tank so as it could be pumped up the hill.  We have since purchased an electronic irrigation control unit  which drives 4 electric solenoids to regulate our watering program which at present consumes 800 litres per session twice a week - however, drippers will shortly replace the current sprays and thus hopefully halve this consumption rate.

The tortuous garden project also served as a useful period in which to think through what we wanted from our new modest house - what should be our priorities for internal renovation?  Over much discussion and just a little domestic conflict it was agreed that our priorities lay with a new kitchen, an ensuite and a roof over our new 45m2 rear patio.  Maria, with her superior design and inter-personal skills would assume the role of 'works supervisor' while I would step back and play the more shadowy role of  'banker' or 'budget supervisor'.

I also decided in December 2006 to sell the big Landcruiser Ute and the Slide-On camper both of which had completed their usefulness to us.  We got a good price for both and replaced the vehicle with a much more fuel efficient Nissan 4x4 Turbo Diesel Twincab Navarra (which, incidentally had come from Tennant Creek) and the Slide On with a very nice off-road Camper Trailer which we picked up in Bundaberg.

The camper is built about an 8x5 trailer with military floating axle suspension and 16 inch off road tyres

It comes with a full detachable annexe and is made of very heavy weight canvas, plenty of storage

We initially chose a kitchen designer with links to a local kitchen manufacturer and from there we approached a recommended  firm of architectural draftsmen.  Having agreed upon a plan it was then time to identify a registered builder willing to undertake the work in a realistic time frame.  We interviewed over six potential  builders only to find each one of them withdrawing their interest in our project because of the timeframe, the complexity of part of the job, the smallness of the job and a couple we dismissed on account of  their wildly extravagant quotes.  We were almost beaten by these chaps when we desperately approached our chosen kitchen construction firm who gave us  another name and one who eventually won the day and was selected.  He opted  to be paid on an hourly rate and appeared to be a jack of all trades: carpenter, glazier, welder, plasterer and floor layer.

During this first 12 months we have found time to take golf lessons and join the local golf club and Maria was invited to join the local  Lioness Club through which she has learned to play Mah-jong and plays regularly each week.  We have also joined the local fishing club and Maria has taken up an interest in Bonsai gardening.  I have sniffed about the local  ALP Branch but this will require more careful research before we decide to join.

I also joined a 3 day fishing charter 60 NM out to the reef - very expensive but was educational to watch the way in which the crew measured every catch and rigidly declared 60% of fish landed to be under the legal size - we caught mainly coral trout, Blue Tooth, Sweetlip and red-throated Schnapper plus the odd Red Emperor.  I did notice that alot of the fish appeared to loose their colour very quickly after being caught.  All fish were periodically thrown into a brine tank until processing at the end of the day.

The charter boat - generally goes out to Swains Reef (90NM) with 12-15 punters for a week

One of the Cabins with two single bunks - there are others with double bunks

The Saloon which adjoins the Galley - food was adequate albeit plain

Fishing modis operandi - heavy preference for large Alvey side reels with running sinker rigs

Sample of a days catch

Not many of these Emperors were larger than the min 55cm required

Alas - the perils of night fishing

The Skipper did all the filleting

Complete with chain mesh glove and Peg leg

To facilitate and expedite the renovation approval process we employed a private Building Certifier to approve our plans and the completed works.  The only hiccup proved to be the need to obtain engineering approval for our  retaining wall which is to be used to support the patio roof.  All approvals were eventually obtained and the internal demolition began in June 2007  coinciding with the unexpected arrival of Steve Robertson (ex Darwin) and partner Helen.  For a while, we had the Tutty's in residence along with Steve and Helen - quite a party!

Gil, June and daughter Anna had dropped in for a week 's holiday in mid June and this coincided with some of the coldest and wettest weather on record for the Capricorn coast and for much of the rest of Australia's East coast as well.  Luckily we had just had a couple of reverse cycle Airconditioners installed a week before their arrival.  The Tutty's visit provided a welcome relief from the daily renos angst and reminded us  of the simple pleasures to be had in just living...we greatly enjoyed their company. 

Gil & June Tutty during a very chilly June 07 visit to Yeppoon

JWB & Gil

(?) Tassie recluse

Anna Tutty found the lolly jar

Tutty's with Steve Robertson and his partner Helen

Alfresco Dining during some rare June sunshine

During the Tutty's visit, we had need to call in our plumber Rob to attend to a very inconvenient blocked and burst sewerage pipe.  Rob was quickly on the scene when called and was able to rectify the problem, albeit after  some very strenuous digging and excavation by ourselves.

Steve, Gil and JWB trying to find the sewer line following a wildly inaccurate Council drainage plan


With Steve's help we disassembled the old kitchen and removed it downstairs in modules to be sold later on.  Then we attacked the walls that had to be removed as well as the ceramic tiles on the kitchen/laundry floors.  We tried a shovel but in the end had to revert to a cold chisel to prise them off, often a tile at a time.  It was then  time for the Meranti skirtings to be removed (they had been fastened onto the steel frame with 50mmTek screws!) along with the shag pile carpet and its prickly fastenings.

Regular readers will remember the Spartan facilities we inherited in July 2006; viz:

The old kitchen we inherited

Inherited living area

Another view of the original living area

It was time, a year later, to try and transform these humble arrangements:

Nothing like trashing a place while your only dealing with plasterboard - the removal of the ceramic floor tiles proved tobe another matter altogether

Steel frames proved a bit of a bother especially those bolts into the roof trusses and floor joists

Temporary plumbing had to be arranged for approximately a month

After the wrecking some re-building had to take place to prepare space for the new kitchen and for our new hardwood floor

Brendon (our builder) cutting the brickwork in preparation of the installation of a new sliding glass door to the rear patio

But first the bricks had to be removed - started off sedately with a hammer and cold chisel but eventually took to it with the back of the axe

Maria was responsible for clearing away the mess into a builders skip we had on site

Harry Stapleton arrived to help finish the job

George and Maxine Waters (ex Darwin) also found their way to Lamberton Street during the renovation frenzy in July 2007

Our builder eventually commenced work during the final weeks of June and was able to prepare space for our new kitchen in time for its arrival during the first week of July.  Then we had to wait for the granite bench tops to be  cut and polished.  We were then able to order our splashbacks which were to be made of toughened glass in Brisbane.  Slowly, bit by bit, the various hardware components of the kitchen were fitted - the most problematic being the Smeg gas cook top which, despite its labelling, had been delivered 3 months previously with the wrong sort of  jets (natural gas rather than required LPG variety). 

And then our builder (Brendan) tackled the laying of our Qld hardwood (mixed species of ironwood, spotted gum, red & blue gum and yellow box) floor.  Because of the nature of the job it was agreed that Maria and I would select, measure and cut each board and Brendan would secretly nail each of them with his special air compressed staple was laborious and exacting work which went on for the best part of a week.  When we had finished we had only 25 odd linear metres left out of the original order of 950 LMs.

Let the fun begin

Maria hard into it

MHB and Brendan discuss tactics

Kitchen floor area ready for kitchen cabinets

Granite Benchtops (the biggest 2500x900x30mm) arrive with alot of personal exertion

The installers reckoned the "Kashmir" granite benchtops were pretty heavy

The old stools were unearthed from storage below to check on bench height

Almost complete

Another view

We managed to sell our old kitchen which we had dismantled and carted downstairs to a family from the coal mining town of Blackwater, some 150kms west of Yeppoon.  As truck drivers, the purchasers had bought a vehicle trailer to load the kitchen on to and then secure it with numerous ropes and truckies knots - it was a marvel to watch. 

It was heartening to hear from so many of our visitors how friendly they found the folk  here in Yeppoon and how  almost folksy the place presents itself.  It does reinforce my own view of the place as being very reminiscent of  the Mornington Peninsula back in the 1950-60s......populated by straight shooting types willing to give you a hand or useful advice without  expectation of  any return.  We can certainly testify that, there is no better way of familiarising yourself to one's newly adopted town, than by embarking on a major house renovation  - you rapidly discover  details of the local tradespeople and trade suppliers.

While our new Queensland hardwood tongue and groove floor was being sanded and polished we were advised to pack up all the odd bits of furniture we had snuck into the house and store it in the guest bedroom and then move out for 2-3 nights.  The ongoing cold weather unfortunately compounded the inconvenience by forcing us to spend an additional day away.  We went exploring inland to Emerald and its Fairbairn Dam (where the cold weather had just caused a massive Barramundi 'kill') and then on to Rubyvale where we went fossicking for sapphires and zircons.  Later we had a look over the beautiful country near Capella, then onto the dreary coal towns of  Dysart and Tieri and then onto the coastal sugar/ethanol  town of Sarina. 

Rubyvale - Saphire Mine

We tried our hand at fossicking for sapphires

Peak Range just out of Capella

Boat launching pontoon in an estuary out of St Lawrence where they experience the largest tides on the East Coast 8+metres

Sunrise at Sarina Beach (NB the steel baskets for catching coconuts)

Of course, during mid kitchen installation we had further visitors in the form of sister Stephanie and then Rosemary and Terry Ey who had dropped in on their way home to the  Coonawarra SA after visiting their daughters in Mackay and Proserpine.....still we managed.  Stephanie proved quite useful in breaking in our new kitchen and we were able to cook up the occasional storm.  We also tested Yeppoon's trendiest restaurant (Michael's) which we all agreed offered a good night out - even for jaded foodie such as Stephanie.

Stephanie at Yeppoon July 2007

Banging pots in half finished kitchen

Prepares a Barra Fillet - NB fancy camping cooktop on granite benchtop

Further banging this time with some pork belly

Rosemary and Terry Ey drop in

Bar-B-Cue of chilli sambal prawns and left over barra fillet

Our new Dining Table bought from Nobs Creek Pottery near Waterfall Creek - some 40kms north of us

Picnic at Waterfall Park Creek

Stephanie and I took a walk around Bluff Point from which one gets a great view of Rosslyn Bay Marina and Yeppoon in background

While waiting for our renovations o be completed we were pleasantly distracted by multiple movements in Maria's vegetable garden, the lettuces, bok Choy, chillies and Ox Heart tomatoes all seemed to respond to the fast approaching warmer months of Spring - thank god as the poor old broccoli and early snow peas were a failure as were our capsicums.  Even some seed potato chats were beginning to be pushed upwards by their hidden bounty.

Picking some Ox Heart Tomatoes

Vegetable Garden looking hopeful

The warmer weather in August also saw a return of a murderous family of kookaburras who, from a perch in a neighbouring Mango tree, were decimating a population of grey wood grubs which appeared to inhabit our garden terraces....the kookaburras had deserted their killing fields in the treacherously cold month of July  but are now back with a vengeance.

'The Bodgie' - casting a gimlet eye on veg garden on the lookout for any subterranean movement

Got one

The tenderising process on the vegetable garden's retaining walls tends to get a little messy and not one for the faint hearted to watch.....

With Spring almost upon us, it is indeed satisfying to notice the fruits of our labours coming to bear in the form of budding citrus trees, and flowers already on the Avocadoes and lychees.

However, with all the talk of water preservation, I felt obliged to adjust our automatic mains water float switch in the rainwater  tank to ensure that over 50% of its capacity was always available for rainwater to fill its overall capacity...this involved me entering the tank and manually adjusting the float mechanism.....quite a scary job!

First a dodgy ladder had to be lowered into the tank

Then I and my modest gut had to squeeze down into the bowels of the tank to make the necessary adjustment

In late August our Floor Sander man contacted us to indicate he had time to return to our house and re-sand and re-seal the top coat of our floor but that this would necessitate our absence from the house for at least 3-4 days.  We initially thought o packing off to the Birdsville Races but these were subsequently cancelled at the last minute by the spread of Equinine Flu throughout NSW and Qld which prevented the movement of horses in those states. 

Instead, we decided to investigate a place called Hydeaway Bay up on the Whitsunday Coast which Rosemary and Terry Ey had told us about during their brief visit, the previous month.  This proved to be an idyllic interlude and another opportunity to familiarise ourselves with our camper trailer.

The trip north of about 400kms took us through the sugar cane growing areas of Sarina, Mackay and Proserpine which were all very busy cutting cane, carting it about in the extensive tramways which criss cross the Bruce Highway in these parts.  The belching smoke stacks of the sugar refineries were  evidence that they also were in full production.  However, from subsequent chats with cane farmers, I am now informed that the current international price for sugar is pretty low and that they barely scratch a living from their seemingly endless fields of swaying cane.  

Hydeaway Bay lies some 35kms north of Proserpine  and is adjacent to a slightly older community at Dingo Beach.....residential land was only subdivided out of the neighbouring pastoral property back in the late 1970s.  The only commercial business being conducted up there is a small caravan park where we stayed, a small (Mandorah type) pub at  Dingo Beach and two small self-contained low-key eco friendly resorts.   The limited residential land for sale ranges from foreshore blocks @ $450k to those set back a couple of blocks for $145k - as you can see they are not exactly giving it away!  There is also much evidence of very wealthy people building palatial holiday homes in the area. 

The town fronts the Gloucester Passage which is the main navigational channel between Airlie Beach 18NM to the South and Bowen some 10NM to the North.  The channel can be navigated by all vessels with a draught of less than 1.8m.

Suffice to say, the beaches are white, the water azure blue, well- stocked mangrove creeks only 6NM away and the whole area is pretty well protected from SE and NW winds - a small boaties paradise.  There are also numerous permanent public moorings available for passing yachties.  Apparently the fishing (especially for coral trout) is magnificent and one need only venture out 3-5 NM to do the job. We are going back with the boat and will probably book into one  of the resorts - they are quite reasonable and 4 adults could share a two bedroom self-contained cabin for less than $100/night each.  Refer to  to get an idea of the amenities provided.  We did take a couple of snaps while up there:

Hydeaway Bay and its strip of residential development

Eclectic geographic nomenclature pervades the area!

Looking towards Cape Gloucester and Gloucester Island (named of course by Capt James Cook)

Looking back into Hydeaway Bay

Montes Reef Resort

Looking North to Bowen from Montes Resort

Looking across to Gloucester Island and the Gloucester Passage from Montes Resort

Cape Gloucester Eco Resort

Fishing off beach at Cape Gloucester Resort NB the array of public moorings just off shore

Maria tries out one of the resort's chairs - to see if they are decadently comfortable

Maria gets more than a toe in the water

Stinger net at Dingo Beach

Very comprehensive warning signage

Dingo Beach Pub ('The Bush Pub by the Sea")complete with neon Coconut Palm


Maria enjoys an alfresco lunch at Hydeaway Bay

While in the area we took the opportunity to drive up to Bowen and have a look around.  The town is still very proud of its involvement in the making of Baz Luhrmann's multi million dollar film titled Australia.  They make much of the fact that for a month or say the town was covered in red dust, and the streets and old buildings were made to look like  Darwin in the 1940s.  Apparently they had to 'train up' 700 head of shorthorn cattle to tramp through the town in some form of cohesion.  The locals got a kick out of  dressing up in period costume and of course the opportunity of bumping into Nicole or Hugh Jackman at the local pub or restaurant.  We actually had a fine lunch at the Bowen Cruising Yacht Club  ($17 for Grilled Coral Trout).

We also tripped into Airlie Beach to see what latest garish development had caught the eye of the greedy developers there.  As the sign says as you enter this is NQs Resort Town, with many shopping traps for idle tourists such as ourselves.  We bought a couple of  items and left  the town to its multitude of  swinging 20 something's who appear to loll about in the plentiful cafes and bars which line the main street or alternatively show off their wealth by driving black european sports cars up and down.

We eventually arrived home to face new beautiful floors but yet another  round of unpacking the house - but at least now we can begin to attack those boxes of chattels stored below and perhaps ready ourselves for the mother of all Lawn/Garage Sales.

We must now wait on the vagaries of our builder to finish the ensuite so as we can move into the master bedroom and complete the patio roof so as we can take delivery f our dining table and perhaps purchase some chairs for it.  I intend to busy myself with bookshelves for a while interspersed with the odd game of golf or some fishing - another charter has been booked.




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