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Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Residential—16-20 April 2018

April 21, 2018

This week a group of enthusiastic and talented young people completed their residential requirement for the DoEHA gold award at CUE Haven.  They accomplished an amazing amount of challenging work and had a fun time as well.

The group arrived on Monday morning and included Christine, Grace J., Grace S., Hannah, Katrina, Madeleine, Nathan, Richard and Sophie.   Donovan, who had previously done his residential at CUE Haven was back as the student team leader for the week.

Also joining us for the week were Rangipai Hill-Dobson, the DoEHA CUE Haven residential leader and Andy Woodhouse, DoEHA National Training and Development Director who was on site helping out for part of the week.

We started off with morning tea and introductions.  Mahrukh gave an overview of the CUE Haven project and Thomas gave a description of the work planned for the week, outlined expectations and gave a safety briefing.

The plan for the week was to do a variety of maintenance tasks.  Due to the size of the group, we split into two teams and each team worked on a different task.  During the course of the week, the membership of the teams changed so that everyone had a chance to work with all of the group members.

Fence Work

The team had to tackle one of the most unusual projects ever done by a DoEHA group.  A large section of fence near the top of the property had been damaged and several areas needed to be repaired and a large segment needed to be totally replaced.  They went to work with a post hole digger, posts, wire, hammers and battens.

The first task was to take up all the gear, including the new fence posts and a very heavy coil of fence wire.

Andy and Pai trained the group in the safe operation of the post hole digger and they prepared holes for new and replacement posts.

The posts were then fixed in place.

Once the posts were secure, the next job was to string the wire.  The wires were tightened with fence strainers and then nailed to the posts.

The last step was to install battens to secure the wires and make the fence stock proof.  The job required a lot of nailing and teamwork.

The result is a very secure and professional looking fence!

Walking Track Improvements

Some of the walking tracks at CUE Haven are over five years old and have seen a lot of wear and tear.  We asked the team to work on fixing up three sections and each presented a different set of challenges.  Over the course of the week all participants had the opportunity to work on the different track sections.

The first track section to fix was a long section of steps that were steep and narrow leading to the DoEHA mosiac.  They were also irregular in terms and width and height.  The team studied the situation and decided to remove some of the old steps and level the grade and reposition the steps.

They also decided that side retaining walls should be installed to prevent erosion and they dug out channels for the boards.

They measured how long the side boards needed to be.

And cut the boards to size.

They then installed the new step risers and secured them with pegs and nails. And also installed the side retaining boards.

The team decided that because the track curved, the retaining board should curve gently as well.

They double checked to make sure everything was level and even.

And then nailed everything into place.

The results of their hard work are amazing.  This is how the steps looked before they started:

And this is the amazing transformation.

The next track remediation task was to connect up two finished sections of track by installing side retaining walls.  This job required a lot of measuring to determine where to put the boards and how long they needed to be.

The team went to work, clearing and levelling the track and digging the channels for the side boards.

The boards were secured with pegs.

And the last step was to fill in the channels and level the track to ensure good drainage.

The final track remediation was the most challenging.  It was one of the first tracks that we built in 2011, and there were steep, narrow steps going up from a bridge over the stream.  The task was to make the steps wider and easier to use.

The team studied the area and came up with some ideas and developed a more detailed plan.

The plan was to dig back the side of most of the stairs to make room to widen them and to improve the retaining wall and build a gentler step approach to the area.

What made the challenge even more interesting is that they essentially had to completely redo the entire track section.   This involved clearing the track and digging out all the old steps.

That was the fun part!  They then went to work installing new steps and retaining walls, cutting out all the timber in the field and working together to make sure everything was level and even.

The end result is one of the most amazing makeovers!  This is how the steps looked before the group got started.

And this is how they look now.

Thanks to the entire team’s efforts, the walking tracks are much more attractive, safer and easier to use.

The last track work activity the group handled was to put a layer of gravel on the new track sections.  The gravel protects the track and makes it safe to walk on in all weather conditions.  The job involved heading up to the gravel pile and loading up buckets.

We loaded the buckets into the ute and drove to the nearest spot and then carried the buckets down to the track.

It was a long walk carrying heavy buckets filled with gravel!

The gravel was then dumped on the track and raked and smoothed in.

And the result is that all the new track sections look great and ready for visitors!

Other Track Maintenance Work

We have continued to have warm, wet weather and that means that everything is growing well at CUE Haven.  A regular maintenance task is to trim back vegetation growing over the walking and driving tracks.  Various teams took turns heading out to different parts of the property trimming back overhanging branches.

Painting and Landscaping

The group also helped out with some smaller maintenance tasks.

The front gate fence needed a paint touch up—

There were some small plantings in front of the gate and we’ve decided we want to turn that area into parking area so the team relocated the plantings closer to the house.   They dug up the plants–

And took them up the drive.

And replanted them with the other landscaping.

There has been some erosion and wear and tear around the front landscaping and the team decided to replace the old timber border and upgrade the area.  They installed new boards, painted them and spread mulch to improve the appearance of the entrance area.

It was an fantastically productive week despite the unpredictable weather.  We thoroughly enjoyed working with the team and we really appreciate the creativity and enthusiasm they brought to every task.

In addition to their hard work, they also spent a lot of time getting to know each other, exploring the property and relaxing and sharing lots of laughs.

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

Our many thanks to Rangipai for taking time off work to help out.  Pai, your skills, knowledge and guidance helped make the residential so successful.  We are glad to have you on the CUE Haven team and look forward to seeing you again soon.

And thanks to Donovan for serving as team leader and doing a great job of keeping things moving and contributing to the success of the residential week.

And of course, a huge THANK YOU to all the hard-working participants.  We really enjoyed meeting you and working with you.  It was great to see a group of young adults who didn’t know each other on Monday, so quickly come together to work as a team and also become good friends.

We were very impressed with your enthusiasm, motivation and hard work and we hope you enjoyed the week as much as we did.   You have all made a major contribution and your efforts will be appreciated by the many visitors and volunteers at CUE Haven over the years.

We wish you all the best in your studies and look forward to having you back at CUE Haven again.

Thanks again!

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