I wrote this update just before leaving Bush Heritage’s Hamelin Outback Station Stay in Western Australia, having completed 12 days’ work there. Even though we both worked very hard, we were sad to leave this great property and well-run station stay.
Hamelin Station Reserve is large – around 203,000 hectares. The former sheep station borders Hamelin Pool, part of the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. Hamelin Pool is hypersaline and supports a rare lifeform – Stromatolites – and is one of only two locations worldwide where these ancient structures occur. They're the earliest fossil evidence of life, dating back 3.5 billion years.
The weekend of 5th and 6th of August saw many visitors to Hamelin Science Fair, which comprised a day of scientific and indigenous cultural presentations in the old shearing shed as well as bird watching and stromatolite tours on the Sunday.
Kerry was kept very busy, making up beds in the old homestead for guests, working on a maintenance schedule for the property as well as helping out with the catering for around 50 guests and presenters.
The shearing shed has been my focus for the past two weeks. The 137 year-old shed is a large 8-stand workplace and has an old crane in front, which was used to load wool bales on to camels for transport to a jetty at Hamelin Pool, about 4km away.
Up to 33,000 sheep were shorn in the property’s heyday. Tony James and I rebuilt a large part of the roof framework, replacing termite-damaged and missing rafters and purlins using second-hand timber from the station dump (known as Bunnings to the staff here). We replaced 31 sheets with new corrugated iron roofing along the shed’s northern skillion, as well as four large laser light skylights in the main gable roof. (Tony had measured and made up an order for this material a year ago). He returned to Perth just before the science fair, after doing a lot of fantastic work.
As there's no power to the shearing shed and the scientist presenters needed a projector and computer as well as lighting, we installed a solar power system, the components for which Bush Heritage had ordered and were delivered with only three days to go. It worked very well, being comprised of a 200 watt solar panel which Tony and I installed on the roof, a 15 amp MPPT regulator, a 200 ampere hour battery (which the two of us struggled to lift), a 2,000-watt inverter and 12 volt led lighting, which we installed around the shed roof beams.
The two-day event was a resounding success with some eminent conservationists and scientists delivering some fantastic presentations. A Geraldton High School indigenous student group known as ‘Follow the Dream’ made a wonderful presentation on their work analysing data from loggers, which are installed around the vast Hamelin Pool. They're being helped on this project by Bush Heritage Stromatolite expert Dr Erica Suosaari. Bush Heritage has a research boat here – a 6 metre aluminium vessel with twin 115HP outboard motors. I would have loved to take it out fishing.
Prior to these projects, Tony and I installed new flooring in the homestead of another Bush Heritage property – Eurardy Reserve, 150km south of here. It was a Tarkett floating floor and we had to use many belts on the sander to level the old chipboard flooring, after stripping out the old lino.
The managers were away on holidays and had shifted out all the furniture before they left. We laid around 80 square metres, covering the living room, kitchen, pantry, hallway, office area and store. We also fitted a new downpipe to the shearing shed, a new rainwater pressure pump and reinforced the rainwater tanks which the new pump services.
– Mick and Kerry
Thanks Mick and Kerry for your amazing work, volunteers really do make all the difference!