July 12, 2015

Updating White Gum Cottage - part 1

It's now ten years since we opened Turkey's Nest at Mount Glorious (we had a small B&B in Brisbane before that). When we bought the property the original cottage, White Gum - an old forestry workers' cottage moved from Beerburrum - was a little 'rough around the edges'. The best view was from the laundry, the kitchen faced a blank wall, and the bedroom had no view!

We renovated it in 2003, moving rooms and adding a new bathroom and kitchen.

The original kitchen - pretty grim!

The 2003 renovated White Gum kitchen

 Our guests love the cottage and its old world feel, but last year we decided it was now due for another makeover (aren't we all?!!) that would update the cottage without losing its charm.

The first job was to replace the flooring. There was carpet in the living and dining areas, and lino in the kitchen, with a bit of slate tile at the front door.

original flooring - carpet, tiles, lino

As it's a small area, a uniform flooring throughout this space was preferable. Unfortunately the existing timber floor under the carpet was an uneven, patched-together, un-salvageable mess, so we decided to cover the lot with a floating bamboo floor. Various finishes are available, including an 'aged' finish which suited the style of the cottage.

Bamboo is a renewable resource- it is a grass and grows very quickly. Whereas oak takes 120 years to grow to maturity, bamboo can be harvested in three, regenerates without need for replanting, and requires minimal fertilization or pesticides. The flooring can also easily be laid DIY.

Russell and a friend laid the floor in a day and a half. The foam underlay overcame the unevenness of the existing timber floor. The slowest part was getting the initial line, after which the boards clicked together quickly.

It took another day to make and add hardwood skirtings. A couple of rugs, sourced cheaply from Grays Online, completed the picture. It gives the whole cottage a finished, unified look and has maintained the old world feel.

The only hassle was a bit of swelling and lifting when the wet weather hit, which required some trimming. In retrospect, we should have left a little more space around the edges, under the skirting boards, to start with, and no further adjustments would have been required.

January 23, 2015

Drying room

I'm a great believer in all washing being hung on the line, and I rarely use a dryer. But we get a fair amount of wet weather on the mountain, and endless days of rain and high humidity are not conducive to drying multiple loads of sheets and towels.

Russell built this drying rack which can be lifted by a pulley system up to the ceiling. By adding a dehumidifier in the laundry, we have a solution that can deal with a fair amount of washing in a reasonably short time, and without the expense (and constant loading/unloading) of a dryer.

Rack in raised position

The rack is made from 25.4mm square section aluminium channeling with click-together corners, all from Bunnings.

Pulleys run across to rope down one wall

A series of pulleys make it easy to lift even a full load. Russell sourced the pulleys on the web, much cheaper than he could buy them locally.

Rack lowered for loading

In the lowered position it's easy even for short people to reach!

 Once it's pulled up, it's well out of the way (it helps to have 2.8m ceilings).

Rope rings and wall cleats

A couple of rings on the pull rope, plus cleats on the wall, mean it can be easily held at either the two loading positions (one for short people, one for tall!) or the drying position.

You need to have a closable laundry for the dehumidifier to be effective. Dehumidifiers run on considerably less power than a dryer. Buying a dehumidifier on Gumtree for less than a third of retail price was a bonus!

November 16, 2014

Path lights - more recycling

The opening of our new B&B suite required us to improve the path lighting to the house. We wanted something a bit funky and unusual. Russell had the inspiration to use some green glass high-voltage electrical insulators which he had picked up on one of his field trips.

We began with standard Bunnings 12-volt lights at $5 each - pretty boring!

Lights - before
We took off the top cover and slipped over some scrap pieces of PVC water pipe. These were various heights, painted matt black and with holes of assorted sizes cut into them to diffuse the light.

The PVC was topped by the green glass insulators to provide a gentle green glow upwards, but with the majority of the light directed down to the path.

Cheap, good looking, very funky and great recycling!

Lights - after

September 12, 2014

Winner - Best Eco-friendly Property, Queensland!

We're a winner!
We're very excited to have won Best Eco-Friendly Property, Queensland in the Stayz tourism group 2014 Holiday Rental Awards.

We take our eco credentials very seriously, so it is great to be recognised for our efforts by what is now one of the largest tourism groups in Australia. 

As a member of the Land for Wildlife Scheme, Turkey's Nest forms part of a wildlife corridor that links private properties with the National Park.

Both in our buildings and in our day-to-day work on the property, we aim to minimise our impact on the environment.

June 8, 2014

Land for Wildlife

We are delighted that Turkey’s Nest has just been accepted into the Land for Wildlife program, a voluntary program that helps landholders provide habitat for wildlife on their property. 

Over 130 species of native birds make Mount Glorious their home as well as a vast array of mammals, reptiles and amphibians, some of which are on the vulnerable and threatened species list. Turkey’s Nest provides a significant area of remnant rainforest, including a palm grove, which, in connection with other properties and National Park in the area, creates a wildlife corridor for native species.
Eastern Spinebill feeding on Grevillea

Land for Wildlife began in South East Queensland in 1998 and as of March 2013 had over 3900 members protecting over 50,000 hectares of wildlife habitat. It is a tool to help encourage, link together and inspire landholders to look after their land for our native wildlife. Providing healthy habitats for wildlife also has wider benefits such as reducing erosion, connecting patches of bushland together, improving soil health, improving water quality in creeks and improving our sense of well-being and aesthetics.

Palms. giant figs and rainforest trees cover two-thirds of Turkey's Nest

We are honoured and privileged and to be included in such a wonderful scheme

March 30, 2014

Pressed metal ceilings

Our first project for the year has been installing pressed metal ceilings in three rooms of the house.

We sourced the pressed metal panels from Heritage Ceilings who have a tremendous range of traditional as well as more modern styles.

We'd had a quote of $11000 to install the ceilings, so decided instead to do it ourselves. The first job was to paint all 60 panels, plus cable moulding and corner rosettes, with three coats of paint, finishing with a gloss enamel. If you have to paint ceilings, it is certainly way easier when you can do it on the ground before they go up!

Installation started with the downstairs 'powder room' as it was the simplest - all one style of panel with no border.

Next was the dining room. This presented some challenges with angles around the bay window, and the additional features of cable moulding and border panels.

The final room was the yet-to-be-completed Macadamia Suite, the B&B suite at the end of the house.

All rooms were finished with timber cornice. It pays to spend time filling nail holes and joins then painting them  - tedious, but it results in a much more professional finish.

In all, putting up pressed metal ceilings is not particularly difficult. It requires two people to hold the panels up, and pre-drilling the nail holes helps. Our main concern was that the panels should be well aligned - like tiling, it would look awful if the lines were wobbly. But the panels have ridges on the edge, which allow for a sort of automatic alignment, so it wasn't as difficult as expected.

It took us about eleven days to put up the three rooms. Given the installation quote we had, that equates to $1000 per day for our work. Better that we usually get!

February 22, 2014

Vegetable garden

It's been a long time between posts, but the second half of last year was spent almost exclusively on establishing the veggie garden.

We built long narrow beds from corrugated iron (recycled, of course!). Because of the slope they are shallower on one side than the other, but still deep enough for anything we're likely to grow.

They are filled with a "lasagna" mix of layers of straw, manure, compost, lovely Mount Glorious red soil, and liberal sprinklings of Dynamic Lifter. The whole area is netted to keep out the turkeys and larger birds like bower birds, but the netting will let through  the little birds that eat insects.

So far this year we have harvested beans, broccoli, Asian greens, capsicum, garlic, lettuce, rocket, potatoes and sweet potatoes, snow peas, silverbeet, three types of tomatoes and zucchini, as well as ten or so different herbs. I've bottled loads of tomatoes for use during winter, particularly the small Black Russians, which produced enormous quantities of perfectly formed, fabulously tasty fruit.

Behind the veggies are three bays for making compost. Further down the hill are two cut-down water tanks, which hold bananas and pumpkins. Strawberries, carrots, asparagus, ginger and eggplant are now coming on. The sweet potato will probably be moved to the slope outside, where it can run wild.

It's a constant learning experience discovering what works and what doesn't, but I never tire of the excitement of whipping up a meal that's essentially from our garden. And the bonus is I don't have to go shopping nearly as often. More time on the mountain!