This year has been extremely busy here at Ethabuka. Not only did we make the move here in March from Cravens Peak reserve but we also had 8 groups of volunteers come through the reserve, each spending a month here.
We've been blessed with the groups we've had come through, each with different skills, but all having one thing in common – a drive to help improve the reserve.
Throughout the year we've completed many tasks and have more on-going projects that may take years to complete (pulling down internal fences for example).
To start off the year we had our first volunteer arrive in April. Trevor was our tester volunteer, testing out all things that work and didn't work for the future volunteers to come. Trev is the master behind our first project here at Ethabuka, the new screened in area on the volunteer quarters.
ANZAC day had arrived, so of course we wanted to attend the dawn service like we do every year. The only catch was we were living 230km from where it was held. So we left around 1am, with Trev dressed in his Bush Heritage volunteer shirt, and we hit the road. It was a fantastic day and continued to involve volunteers in our local community.
Trevor's time here went very quickly and before we knew it Richard and Margaret Alcorn were on site, getting straight into the list of jobs Matthew had prepared. For Richard and Margaret their main task was strengthening and maintaining external fences – a tedious job and very repetitive, but a very important one. These boundary fences help to keep stock intrusions to a minimum. While out doing these jobs they managed to add new bird sightings to the very long list of species already found on reserve.
Thanks to Richard and Margaret being here at Ethabuka, Matthew, Isabella and myself were able to head away on holidays to the gulf. But before we could go Richard and Matt extended the list of jobs with ones that could be completed around the house and prepared the induction for our next group of volunteers.
After 10 days away we arrived home to be greeted by Grant and Kim Irving. While we were away Grant and Kim had had completed several of the jobs on the list. One of my favourite was the new floor in our screened in area on the homestead.
We decided to have a pig on the spit and invite the neighbours up.
While Matt and Grant were busy working on more jobs, cutting and cementing posts for the carport and posts for the shade sail, Kim came and gave me a lesson on making scones! A coffee later we had fantastic hot scones waiting to be eaten.
After spending a bit of time talking with Kim we found we had one major thing in common – a love of chocolate! Lucky for us our ecologist and visitations officer were coming to visit and brought some with them.
Sadly again, their stay was coming to an end, but happily for me it also meant the end of my pregnancy. So the day Grant and Kim were leaving Matthew took Bella and I to the airport so we could fly home.
Matt returned to Ethabuka with the Wilson family from Carnarvon Station in toe. Matt had a couple of days before our next group of volunteers arrived. He headed to Big Red Bash for a day. The next day Ian and Annie Mayo arrived. Lucky for them the Bedourie Camel Races were on! So they all headed to town.
Once they returned home Ian and Annie got stuck into fence removal. All our internal fences need to be pulled down and rolled up. These fences can become a hazard for our native wildlife – they're broken and the wires that are hiding in the sand can entrap and are also a hazard to vehicles.
Once again, thanks to our lovely volunteers Matthew was able to leave and come back to Stanthorpe to await the birth of our second child. Matthew had prepared Ian and Annie to induct our next two groups of volunteers. While we were waiting for baby Warr to arrive Dennis and Hazel Hanrahan and Pete and Kim Eastman arrived at Ethabuka.
Ian and Annie had inducted them and they all continued to remove internal fences. It was now time for Ian and Annie to head home. Leaving Hazel, Dennis, Pete and Kim to run the show.
Finally D day had come and we welcomed Madilyn Grace into the world. During a phone call to Ethabuka to let everyone know when we'd be returning home Matthew somehow forgot the name we'd chosen for her! We arrived home to a group of friendly faces and a sign on her door, “Welcome to your desert home Matilda!"
When we were back home settling in, everyone was amazing, busy pulling down fences, welding tyre safety cages and completing the screened-in area on the volunteers quarters. Everyone was so understanding and helpful with the new little Warr.
After a short stay, Peter and Kim were heading home. Leaving Hazel and Dennis on reserve. After pulling up more fences Dennis spent a day in the shed with Matt, fixing up an old cement mixer – his pride and joy.
Pete and Kim Eastman travelled all the way from Tasmania to help out at Ethabuka Reserve and had this to say about the experience.
"Thank you so much for the opportunity that you gave us to experience the extraordinary environment of Ethabuka. It was unlikely we'd have ever gotten so far outback without a place like Ethabuka to draw us. The long journey from Tassie paid off a million times over. We loved it!"
A trip to Mount Isa to get stores was in need. Leaving the reserve in the capable hands of Hazel and Dennis we headed to Mount Isa. With it being a quick trip to Isa we filled up with stores and headed back to Ethabuka, arriving home to a cooked meal. It was bitter sweet with it being Hazel and Dennis’ last night there.
Alan and Marj Jones were the last group of volunteers for the year. For Alan and Marj they were keen to get stuck into the jobs that were left on the list. Cementing, laying carpet, pulling down fences and helping researchers from Sydney Uni were some.
Busy working on their list of jobs we once again, but for the last time this year, were able to fly home for a very special weekend. Alan and Marj’s time at Ethabuka went very quickly. We learnt a lot from each of our volunteers and hope that we can run into them again soon.
We've accomplished so much this year and it wouldn't have been possible without the help of our wonderful volunteers. With their help we've managed to rack up an amazing 2,200 hours of volunteer labour and during this time many projects – including screens on the volunteer quarters, removal of about 30km of internal fences and strengthening of boundary fences – have been completed.
We really appreciate the time, effort and passion all the volunteers have for our reserves.