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Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Residential—18-22 April 2016

April 23, 2016

This week we had the seventeenth DoEHA gold award residential at CUE Haven and once again we had a great group of young people who accomplished amazing things.

The group arrived on Monday morning and included Aimee, Charlie, Eda, Kiera, Kevin, Marina, Portia, Ruben and Sam.  Emma and Jordyn, who had both been participants in previous residentials were the team leaders and it was great to have them back.

Andy Woodhouse, Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award National Training and Development Director was also on site for the week; and Kayla, who has been a team leader on some prior residentials came out on Wednesday to help out for the day.


We got acquainted over morning tea and then gave the group an overview of the CUE Haven project and the work to be done for the week as well as a safety briefing.


We then went for a tour of the property to give the participants a better idea of the project and the tasks they would be doing.

Tasks for the week included building some single benches for the area in front of the cottage, a bench for the walking track as well as walking track maintenance.  During the week people moved around so that everyone had a chance to work on different projects.

The timber we would be using for the benches and track work had been delivered and the first job was to carry it into the nursery where we would be doing a lot of the work.



Walking Track Bench

There is a point where two walking tracks join near a small waterfall.  It is a lovely place and we have installed an inspirational sign there that encourages visitors to stop and enjoy the moment.  Ever since we’ve wanted to put a bench there to encourage people to relax and reflect.

We asked the team to come up with a design and build the bench.  It was a challenge because of the terrain and the way the two tracks meet.  The team inspected the site and came up with a plan for how they wanted the bench to look.


They drew up their design and measured and cut the timber.  Andy and Thomas trained and supervised the team members so they could use power tools to help with the cutting.




They then assembled the pieces according to their plan.



When the bench was mostly complete, it was taken out to the site.




Once the team was satisfied with the positioning, holes were dug for the legs and the bench was cemented in place.





When the concrete had set, the team attached the back of the bench.




They smoothed off the rough edges:


As a final step, they landscaped the area around the bench to make it easy to access and to improve the appearance of the area.



The new bench is a fantastic addition to the walking track and it will be appreciated by visitors for years to come.  Great job, bench team!



Cottage Benches

The DoEHA residential team this January built a number of benches to go with the picnic tables that previous teams had built.  The benches have proven so useful and popular, we asked this team to build four new benches for the area.

The team assigned to do the benches started out by studying the existing benches to get the design and dimensions.  They then cut out the timber and assembled the benches.







The final step was a coat of stain.


They also stained the long benches and tops of the bath tub tables built by the earlier team to protect them from the weather.


Thanks to the benches and tables, we have been able to turn the area in front of the cottage into a great meeting place for visitors and school groups.


Track Maintenance

The walking track network at CUE Haven is now almost 4 km long and requires regular maintenance to keep the tracks safe, easy to use and good looking.  Thanks to the hard work of the participants the tracks are looking better than ever.

They started out by trimming away some of the vegetation that had grown over the tracks.




They also worked to clean up and landscape the area around the mosaic.





The main track maintenance effort involved fixing steps on steep portions of the track by either adding new steps or boxing up existing steps to control erosion and wear.  It was challenging work because each step requires a different solution and the team needed to be creative in coming up with the most effective approach.  Once a solution for each step was developed it usually meant a lot of digging and nailing to install new steps and boxing.

The team started at the top entrance to the DoEHA track, an area that most visitors use.  The main effort here was boxing up the sides of the steps to prevent erosion.

The team measured and cut each side wall.



And then nailed each wall securely in place.



The end result is a great looking stairway that will be safe and easy to use for all visitors.


The team then moved on to a more remote and steep section of track.  Because of the slope, the team decided to install additional steps to make it easier to climb up.  They also boxed in several steps which were prone to erosion.









They worked their way down to the bridge near the mosaic.  On the other side of the bridge, there was an inconvenient step and then a steep grade up.  The team levelled the grade to make it easier to walk up and installed a retaining wall along the edge to prevent slips and erosion.





In the meantime, other members of the team had a look at the approach to the bridge on the other side and once again found a way to improve it, this time by extending the bridge to meet the first step of the walking track.  With the bridge extension, visitors will not have to step down and then back up onto the bridge.

They first measured the area and cut out and installed the support timbers.




The next task was to install the top planks.  This was an interesting challenge because the track and the bridge meet at a slight angle.  As a result, the planks had to be carefully positioned to ensure that there were no gaps and all the spacing was equal.

Once the spacing was set, the planks were nailed into place.



The team made sure that the new section was securely fastened to the next section of track.


They finished off the bridge by attaching wire mesh so that the surface is safe to walk on in wet weather.


The final step for this portion of track was to spread gravel on the newly finished surfaces so that they will be safe to walk on during the wet winter months.

We filled buckets with gravel and took them up to the track site.



We took the buckets as close as we could get by vehicle, but it was still a long walk down to the track site.


The gravel was dumped on the track and raked smooth.




The end result of all this hard work is an amazing improvement in the safety and appearance of the walking track.



The team then moved to a different part of the property to fix a different track problem.  A track near the wetlands had been built along steep ground and during the summer when the wall of the track dried out, it tended to crumble and collapse onto the track surface.  As a result, the team dug out the bank and built a retaining wall to secure the bank.  Like other track efforts this one involved a lot of digging and hammering but the result is worth it.






As a result of all of the group’s efforts, CUE Haven looks great and visitors to our upcoming Open Days will definitely enjoy the many improvements.  A final task the group helped us with was installing directional and way finding maps and signs along the walking track for visitors to use as reference points.




It was a very successful week and the team accomplished a lot and had a fun time too.

We’d like to thank Andy for organising the residential and for his continuing support.  Andy, thanks for arranging your schedule so that you could be on site with us all week to help supervise and train the participants. It was much appreciated.

Kayla, it was good to catch up with you again and thanks for coming and helping for the day.

A big thank you to Emma and Jordyn for their efforts as team leaders.  Your leadership helped make the week so successful.  And thanks for all your hard work in the field too!

And our many many thanks to the hard working team.  We really enjoyed getting to know you and working with all of you. We were very impressed by the way you came together as a team and worked so well together so quickly.  We appreciate how enthusiastic you were and willing to take on new challenges.  You came up with great ideas and made a major contribution to the CUE Haven project.  Your work will be appreciated by many visitors over the years.

We wish you all the best of luck as you continue to pursue your gold awards and much success and happiness in your future endeavours.  We look forward to having you back at CUE Haven either as team leaders for another residential or just to visit and see how things are progressing.


Thanks again!

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