Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Residential—13-17 April 2015
This week saw another successful Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Awards (DoEHA) gold award residential at CUE Haven. The group included Alex, Blake, Caitlin, Hamish, Hannah, Jenna, Kalym, Kaushal, Katy, Liesbet, Rebekah, Veronika and Zoe. Caitlin and Kalym did their gold residentials at CUE Haven last year and it was good to have them back as team leaders.
The group arrived on Monday morning and we got acquainted over morning tea. Mahrukh gave a welcome and history of the CUE Haven project and Tom gave a safety briefing and an overview of activities planned for the week.
We then went for a short tour of the property and a walk through the DoEHA Grove so that the group could see the work that previous groups had done and get a better idea of what they would be doing.
The team tackled a variety of tasks during the week. They spent most of their time and effort finishing up the mosaic of the DoEHA logo in the Grove and also did walking track maintenance, fence repair and maintenance, planted some trees, did some weeding and they also painted some of the totem poles that previous teams had carved. It was a busy week and we had to be flexible because the weather was very changeable and we had to work around the cloudbursts.
In October 2013 a gold award team started a mosaic of the DoEHA logo to welcome visitors to their Grove at CUE Haven. Subsequent teams have added to the mosaic but unfortunately, over time erosion and ground movement have taken their toll on it. We decided to stablise the mosaic by building a brick wall around it and then filling in the circle to complete the mosaic. An earlier team had put down a concrete base in the circular area to be filled and a brick wall was constructed and it was the job of this team to complete the work.
The project required a lot of different skills but the first challenge was getting all of the materials down to the site. It was a long hike to the nearest spot we could bring up materials in the ute.
Once all the equipment and materials were on site, the first task was to raise the level of the concrete ring so that mosaic tiles could be installed at the right level. The team worked together to put down a smooth layer of concrete.
The concrete was left to dry overnight and the next morning the team went up to do the actual mosaic work. First they had to bail out the overnight rain.
They then mixed up more concrete and spread it out in a thin layer that the mosaic tiles would be set into. It was a challenging job to match up the irregularly shaped tiles and get everything even but the end result looked good.
The concrete was again allowed to harden overnight and the next day the team went up to fill in the spaces around the tiles with concrete grout. They had to take extra care to make sure that no concrete was covering the tiles. They also fixed up any areas of the old mosaic that they could easily correct by putting in new tiles.
The last mosaic job was to do a final clean up. This involved sweeping off dust and wiping off any accumulated concrete grout.
The end result is a vast improvement and future groups will work on fixing up the original sections that have shifted and settled.
The walking tracks at CUE Haven require constant maintenance to keep vegetation and weeds under control. Additionally, we are always finding ways to improve the tracks to make them easier and more interesting for visitors.
While waiting for the mosaic concrete to dry the team would take time to work on the tracks. A big part of the work involved trimming away weeds and overgrowing vegetation.
An earlier team had installed some boardwalk sections on a wet section of a new track and some of the joints between the boardwalk sections were incomplete. The team went to work to fix the sections and also finish off the boardwalks by putting down wire mesh to make them safe to walk on in all kinds of weather.
The last and most challenging bit of track work involved redesigning and rebuilding some steps on three sections of the track. Because of ground movement and settling, some of the steps have gotten quite deep and they were becoming difficult to navigate. The team studied the problem and came up with solutions which involved either reforming existing steps or putting in additional steps. The result is a great improvement.
Earlier teams built a chessboard and a set of chess and checker pieces. The chessboard is located behind the hut which was built from the old water tank near the top of the property. In order to provide secure storage for the pieces as well as a place for players to sit, we acquired two storage boxes and an earlier team reinforced them with timber. This team tackled the job of securing them in position by the chess board.
The first step involved digging holes that would take the legs that would be attached to the boxes and set in concrete. To do this the team took the boxes up to the site and took accurate measurements. They also smoothed and levelled the ground so the boxes would sit on a level surface.
They also drilled holes in the corners of the boxes so that the leg brackets could be attached.
They then mixed up concrete and filled the holes they had dug and set the boxes in securely.
The last step was to smooth out the ground and clean up the area.
And of course have a game!
At CUE Haven we encourage people to support our restoration efforts and plant celebration trees to mark important life events. Earlier in the week we were contacted by our friends Laxmi and Sudesh wanting to plant celebration trees to mark their daughter, Kanika’s, upcoming birthday and wedding. Kanika is a DoEHA silver award holder and we thought it would be lovely to have the gold award residential team at CUE Haven help Kanika plant the 30 canopy trees!
Also, during the week Rebekah received news she had been promoted at work, so to celebrate the special occasion, she planted a special golden totara.
The team helped get the trees and equipment from the nursery and then joined Laxmi, Sudesh and Kanika and planted the trees.
This winter, we are going to be planting along the boundary with our neighbour who is still grazing cattle. We want to make sure that the fence is secure so that the cows don’t get any ideas about supplementing their grass diet with some nice trees. The team inspected the fence and repaired battens and wires as needed. They also replaced some battens.
Earlier teams have been carving totem poles to mark the entrances to the walking tracks they have built. The earliest poles were painted a solid colour and we decided to use some white and black paint to fill in the carved areas so that people could more easily see the interesting carving work.
The team worked really hard this week and had to contend with rainy weather and a cold snap as well. They accomplished an amazing amount of work and also managed to take some time to relax.
They played cards
We want to thank Andy Woodhouse, National Training Director DoEHA programme for organising the residential and providing assistance and support—and for hobbling back on Friday after ankle surgery to see the team off.
A big Thank you to Caitlin for heading the team. You did an excellent job and your leadership helped make the week very successful.
And many thanks to Kalym for helping out again – your energy and enthusiasm are much appreciated.
And we want to thank the hard working team. We really enjoyed meeting and working with you. We hope you will come back as team leaders for future DoEHA residentials. Best of luck in completing your gold awards and in all your future endeavours.
You have all made a very valuable and lasting contribution to the CUE Haven project. All the work that you did will be appreciated and enjoyed by the numerous visitors over the years and the trees you planted will provide food and shelter to birds and other wildlife.