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Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Residential—17-21 July 2017

July 22, 2017

This week, CUE Haven hosted the twenty-second Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award (DoEHA) gold award residential.

The July residential can be a challenge because of unpredictable winter weather, but as usual we had a great time and got a lot done.

The group arrived on Monday morning and included Alex, Alice, Christine, David, Dylan B., Dylan L-W., Holly, Maggie, Michael and Philippa.  Julia, who had done her residential at CUE Haven previously was the team leader.

The group had met at the nearest grocery store to do their food shopping for the week and the first task was to unload and put everything away.  Included in the food stores for the week was some home baking.

We then spent some time getting acquainted over morning tea.  Mahrukh gave the group an overview of the CUE Haven project and an orientation to the cottage.

Thomas then gave a safety briefing and outlined expectations and plans for the week.

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

The plan for the week was very ambitious, and the group accomplished more than we expected.  They did some tree planting, a variety of maintenance tasks and built and installed several benches along the walking track.

Walking Track Maintenance

There are over 4 kms of walking track at CUE Haven and they need constant maintenance. The first task the group tackled was to trim back some overhanging vegetation.

The group also got a chance to be creative—and get very muddy—fixing some engineering issues on various track sections.

There is a set of steps that had been prone to erosion and one team worked to dig out the problem section and install small retaining boards along the sides to prevent further erosion.

The first task is to dig out the existing steps to make room for the side boards.

Each step is different, so the side boards need to be individually measured and cut.

The side boards are then nailed into place.

And the result is a much safer and better looking set of steps!

In the meantime, another team worked to fix a drainage problem higher up on the track.  In the past few weeks we’ve had very heavy rains and water has found new ways to work its way onto the track.  They investigated the problem and came up with a solution.

They dug out a section of track next to a drainage channel which was not functioning properly.

They found where the water was coming from and installed a drain pipe to channel the water away from the track.

They then restored the sections of track that had been dug up and also fixed an out of line retaining board.

The two teams then came together to work on the biggest—and messiest–challenge of all.  The heavy rain had made a small stream overflow and the runoff was coming across a low spot of the track.  We asked the group to study the problem and come up with a solution.  They traced the problem back to a spring and decided to dig out a channel to divert the flow under the bridge and into the main stream.  It was a lot of work but it totally solved the problem.

They traced the stream back several metres and kept widening and clearing it to ensure that it could handle the flow of water.

We found an old nonfunctioning drain pipe and dug it up, cleaned it and reinstalled it to make sure any overflow will go under the bridge and down to the main stream.

It was a great moment when the new drain pipe started carrying away all the extra water!

Tree Planting

Winter is planting season at CUE Haven and we asked the group to do a variety of planting tasks during the week.  Now that the bulk of the pioneer planting has been completed, most of our work involves filling in areas that need more vegetation and one team did small amounts of planting in various areas of the property.

On Wednesday, everyone joined in as we tackled a major planting project in the wetland adjacent to the DoEHA Grove.

It was wet and messy planting but the group coped very well and kept smiling and planted all the trees we had!

Bench Building

We requested the group to design and build some benches for the walking track so that visitors can relax and enjoy the bush.  Andy Woodhouse, National Training Director for the DoEHA was on site to help out and we gave the students an overview of the types of benches we were looking for, but we encouraged them to be creative.  Andy also gave a safety briefing and trained the group in the use of various tools.

They broke up into smaller teams and planned their benches.

Thomas and Andy supervised as they used the power tools.

Once the designs were finished and the timber cut, the benches came together very quickly.

Due to time constraints, four of the benches were kept simple, but the team got creative with the other three.

A few days earlier, we had pruned the fruit trees in the orchard and some of the bright orange apricot wood was laying around and Alex, Alice and Julia decided to use it as part of their bench.

Holly and Phillippa painted their bench in the CUE Haven colours with their new team name.

And Christine and Maggie did some beautiful original carving on their bench.

Once all the benches were finished, it was time to install them in the field.  A small team had previously gone out to scout for good places for the seven benches and they marked each site with a flag.

The benches were loaded into the ute and taken out to the bush.  We also took a post hole digger, water and concrete to install them.

Each bench was then carried down to where it would be installed.

At each location, holes were dug for the legs, and the bench was cemented in place.

Everything was checked to make sure the bench was even and level before they were cemented in place.

The benches are a fantastic addition to the CUE Haven landscape and will be much appreciated by visitors as they explore the growing native forest.

Other Tasks

There are always a lot of little jobs to do around CUE Haven and we asked the energetic team to help out with a few of them.

We put wire mesh on the boardwalks and bridges to keep them from being too slippery when they are wet and the group helped out finishing off some sections that needed work.

Earlier this year, we had done some landscaping down by the front gate and we asked the team to spread some mulch, generously donated by Treescape, around the new plants to help suppress weeds.  They filled buckets with mulch and carried them down to the gate.

They then spread it among the plants and the result is an amazing improvement.

The entrance to one of the walking tracks had gotten very muddy and the team filled up buckets with small gravel and spread it along the track to make it safer to walk on in wet weather.

After the pruning in the orchard and after a summer and fall of track work, there was a lot of scrap wood and branches that we needed to gather up.  The team used wheelbarrows to fill the ute and we trucked the waste wood away.

And they also took the opportunity to do a general clean up in the nursery and got it looking better than ever.

The team accomplished an amazing amount of work during their stay at CUE Haven.

But it wasn’t all hard work.  The team spent time getting to know each other and relaxing with card games and dancing to songs from the 1970s & 1980s and baking amazing muffins and cakes.

Michael had an advance celebration for his upcoming 18th birthday and also planted a celebration tree to mark the special occasion.

Also, a bit of a long story.  When Julia had been a participant in an earlier residential, that team had adopted a cicada who they named Pete.  Unfortunately, Pete met an untimely demise and Julia, Alice & Alex decided to make a belated memorial plaque for him which they installed near one of their benches.

We also found out that Dylan had previously been to CUE Haven as part of a Trees for Survival planting when he was in primary school.   Dylan went up to see the area he and his class had planted in June 2011. The trees the students planted were about 30 cm big and look at how the forest has grown in 6 years!

It was a fun and productive week and we’d like to thank Andy Woodhouse for taking time out of his busy schedule to assist with the residential.  Andy, we really appreciate your help and your continued support of our efforts at CUE Haven.

And many thanks to Julia for serving as team leader—you did a great job and your excellent leadership was one of the reasons this was such a productive and fun week.

And of course, a huge THANK YOU to all the very enthusiastic and hard-working participants.  We enjoyed meeting you and working with you and really appreciate your amazing contribution to CUE Haven.  And we know that visitors to CUE Haven will really appreciate the growing forest and walking tracks that are easier and drier to walk on and the benches to rest along the way.

CUE Haven now officially belongs to the community and we hope you will continue to be a part of the CUE Haven team over the years – lots of opportunities for you all to showcase your talents as artists and visionaries.  And it would be great to have you back as future DoEHA residential team leaders too.

We wish you much success in all your future endeavours and look forward to keeping in touch.

Thanks again!!


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