Lamberton Street - Makeover
Our early months of occupancy of our new home in Lamberton Street Yeppoon, have been marked by the need to undertake a prodigious amount of work to restore the house's engineering integrity. Three major areas of remediation had been identified prior to purchase and the guestimated cost of addressing each of them, deducted from the contract purchase price. The items were:
eroded concrete and brick footings at rear of house;
lack of suffient engineered drainage at rear of house - to ensure surface water runoff from the substantial hill behind us was re-directed away from the rear of the house; and
resurrection of cross bracing between the steel piers situated on the lower ground level of the house.
Being newcomers to town, we were confronted initially by the hurdle of not knowing any tradespeople with whom we could negotiate to help fix any of the above. However, we were thankfully tipped off by Dougie Taylor (resident 'fix-it man' of Maine Caravan Park) about the names of a couple of reliable tradespeople who could assist. Perhaps more importantly, he tipped us off about the particular pub in which the towns' tradies tended to congregate. This last bit of information proved very strategic and has since paid great dividends in terms of identifying: a general builder, a concreter, an excavator operator, a paver , a plumber and competitive suppliers of a range of landscape materials. Not surprisingly, a number of these tradespeople tend to be either related or the preferred contractors of each other - once you have broken into the loop, a veritable Pandora's box is opened up for you.
The Railway Hotel is situated adjacent to the town's largest shopping complex and opposite the now defunct railway station. Apart from being the preferred watering hole for tradespeople, it also hosts the sole TAB agency in town. I suppose its abit like a cross between Darwin's Buff Club and the old Winnellie Hotel.
Due to the hotel's strategic importance to us, we have had to now divide our social allegiances between it and the Keppel Bay Sailing Club whose membership tends to be more skewed towards active and retired business types who, of course, can also prove to be very useful contacts.
The hours we have had to put in at both establishments, to establish our own bona fides as genuine new settlers escaping from the tropical north and not boring wealthy 'southern Mexicans' has been impressive - even by Darwin standards - but I guess you just 'have to do what you have to do!.'
As the sun rises at around 0500 hours in this part of the world , it enables one to make an unusually early start on the picks, crow bars, Jack Hammers, wheel barrows, paint brushes and other joint jarring weapons of destruction. I doubt if my own or Maria's hands and backs will ever recover from the punishment they've been subjected to over the past months - mind you none of this violent exercise appears to have had any positive impact on our accumulated weight or enlarged waistlines!
Our toils were initially shared with Harry Stapleton and later, for a shorter time, by "young" Rodney Grace who dropped in for a couple of days R&R on his way home to Mildura from Airlie Beach; where he had been working for the past couple of months.
The snaps below give some indication of the extent of the makeover already completed on the outside of the property. I think we'll leave the inside renovations to kitchen and bathrooms for another year. Initially, we have had to prioritise the identified remediation issues and attend to them and associated works before the commencement of summer rains.
The most important and most expensive job was to re-secure the house's concrete and brick foundations which the previous owners had tried to excavate to make more room under the house. This had led to serious erosion and subsequent minor subsidence. The engineer recommended a number of options but we took the simplest and most expensive which involved back-filling the footings with approximately 15m3 of concrete and leaving us with a very useful 1200 high concrete storage shelf - the length of the house.
This job had to be completed before our goods and chattels arrived from Darwin so there was no rest until it was completed - it was certainly not allowed to become 'work in progress'.
Next was the need to rescue the neglected front decking. But Maria decided the decking oil would have to wait until we completely re-painted all of that peculiarly Qld wooden lattice - what a bastard of a job and we were fortunate that it coincided with Harry's arrival - I, of course, had a spare paint brush for him.
The front of house paint job (including oiling the Decking) was a breeze compared to the drainage works at the rear of the house. This rather complex job grew like topsy and before we new it we had committed ourselves to a full blown 50m2 paved terrace with retaining walls and steps up to the second of our seven 'garden' terraces.
In addition to the above we have also found time and specialist assistance to extend the front parking apron by 12mx3m to facilitate the use of boats and campers, laid a further concrete 5mx2m ramp to facilitate access to the rear of the house as well as moved the laundry and associated plumbing downstairs.
Our last project for the year has been the installation of a 2 500 gallon (11 000litre) water tank and irrigation system to enable us to utilise the rear garden terraces without having to worry too much about ad hoc water restrictions which can plague this district. Because of the current overwhelming demand for tanks all over the country, we have had to wait 6 weeks for our tank which was sourced from Ayr (near Townsville) of all places. They had the best deal and the best 6 tap 1HP pressure pump.
We have been to see our fruit tree supplier in Rockhampton and will begin planting our precious orchard in the next couple of weeks. A plentiful supply of mulch has been identified at the local tip and at $12/Ute load is much better value then paying $15/bale for the popular sugar cane mulch.
We have also been mucking around with a steel coat hanger trying to divine water (yes they still do this sort of thing in Qld) and preliminary results look good for a small well or bore next year. As will the planting of a Herb and Vegetable garden.
Alot of native trees found up the back of the block have subsequently been identified as a large tree species of Grevillea, Qld Silky Oaks and Bauhinias (Rockhampton's festival flower). There are also many more sub-tropical natives which have so far defied identification.
We took time out from our labours on Melbourne's Derby Day to attend the Yeppoon's second horse racing meeting for the year. It is a glorious track set amongst towering eucalypt trees and casual lawned areas. Eight bookmakers fielded along with the TAB for a 6 race meeting with fields of about 10 in each race. Full interstate betting facilities were also available. Both men and women dressed up in their finery for the event - they even had a dedicated Cocktails Bar for the ladies. Many chose to picnic under their own improvised shade structures - there was a bus service from town (the course being about 7kms away). It reminded us all of what bush race meetings used to be like - even in Darwin back in the 1970s.
Unfortunately, it appears that the greed of the Qld TAB has killed off many such bush meetings in towns like Yeppoon which is now only permitted to have two meetings per year. The TAB prefers to direct its resources to the more sophisticated regional race clubs such as Rockhampton and Mackay which have no where near the same rural picnic ambiance of courses such as Yeppoon's......shame!
With the weather warming up, we have resumed swimming down at the various lovely beaches in and around town. There has already been one smelly algae (Trichodesmium) bloom in the sea caused through a combination of rising sea water temperature and calm onshore winds between August and December direction. The actual annual coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef occurs in November during the full moon. Here endeth the biology lesson.
I trust the above gives some idea of our busy doings here in Yeppoon and to assure others that our seachange is not just 'all beer & skittles' as may have been assumed....its bloody hard work!
Its hard to believe that we have now been in Yeppoon for almost a year and in that time have bought a house (not to mention another spare block of prime real estate), got stuck into the renos, gotten to know alot of the ins and outs of the local community, voted in local and state elections, gotten to know a small group of friends and many other acquaintances. Flown and driven up and down to Brisbane and are beginning to know our way around that city as well. Alas Medibank Private has also caught up with us and we are each required to transfer from the NT rates scale of $53.55/month to Qld's rates of $77 /month!.....the Smart State indeed?
Maria has just re-branded her car as a true Queenslander and she now sports brand new Qld registration plates - tho, she wisely chose the Sunshine rather than the Smart State logo. I will try and sell the Landcruiser Ute before it has to be similarly re-badged.
Of course we miss the kids, grandkids and close Darwin friends but we can and will visit them periodically. Amy has just announced that she will drop down over Xmas, Paula Compton intends looking us up in January, while Ben, Sarah and their children intend making it the following year. Be assured that there is plenty of room for other visitors here in Yeppoon.
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