It was with great enthusiasm and diligence that Will and Olivia Hansen, along with a group of Bush Heritage volunteers, rolled up their sleeves and got to work on renovations of the visitors’ quarters at Charles Darwin Reserve.
The quarters have held many visitors over the years – from volunteers to staff, Traditional Owners, patrons, donors, all manner of ecologists studying everything from Trapdoor Spiders and Malleefowl to Sandalwoods – and not to forget the crew that comes biennially for all of the Blues for the Bush preparations!
Originally constructed to cater for large groups (shearing crews), the building is essentially two large dongas on a concrete slab with a roof over the top, which helps with cooling through the hot summer months. Over the years the ‘quarters’ has been moulded into a place of real character and soul, and with hundreds of visitors through its doors it was due some for some love and a modest facelift!
It now has everything that people living away from home to undertake field operations could desire (or at least just ‘require’!). The space is well-equipped with a giant 8-ring gas-top oven, two refrigerators and all manner of pots, pans and utensils.
There's a handy storeroom and nine bedrooms with single, twins and double beds, plus a shower and ablutions block with a washing machine and tub adjacent to the building. A wood fire will keep guests toasty and warm in winter, and with a selection of nature books and novels it has looked after visitors well for many a trip.
The renovation was coordinated by the talented Olivia Hansen, who chose the materials, furnishings, colours and envisioned the new look and layout of the furniture.
Work started with emptying the entire building, then stripping back and repairing the walls, which were caked in years of blue tac and littered with holes from numerous wall hangings. Both the inside and outside were repainted (which was no mean feat with ten-plus rooms and a large communal area!) and some of the soft furnishings that were a tad-tired were replaced.
After two weeks of long days and much elbow grease the furniture was ready to move back in – including new mattresses, curtains and some fresh pillows, blankets and manchester to make our visitors more comfortable.
The team that attended the working bee were no less than amazing, putting in huge days without complaint, which was impressive – especially when it appeared that we'd bitten off more than we could chew for the time available!
A big thank you to all of our volunteers for their help and support – and to Oliva Hansen for bravely leading the charge. As a result of this true team effort we're pleased to say that the CDR quarters now has a fresh new look, and is set to go on receiving guests for the next 15 years!