August News

Start of the kitchen renovation

In the beginning... In hindsight, not my smartest move! The old kitchen was removed, but the cabling was confusing for the “stud and power” detector. The electrician unions pass this kind of wiring? The house was built by a well-known company, but we never received any drawings and at one of the local events, the Willunga Council had a stand, and said that the plans were copyright and that I could not get a copy. All I wanted to know was where the copper pipes were in the foundation slab, plus the power. After the lack of geo-info showed up when I had to locate the septic tank for the four-year emptying cycle, then the struggles the NBN team had to go through to find water and power under the roads, I thought that this information either does not exist, or would be useless, so the gyprock was stripped back. By the way, Telstra and the NBN could not find the telephone connection when the time came to install the fibre optics. After removing a twenty year old rose bush, it was discovered that the telephone jack was shared with the neighbour's access point. We could go on for hours, but the renovation is now done. There are no drawings but hundreds of photos.

Travel and Renovation

Much like the last three months; no software was written in August, just the last trip to Brisbane with the remaining load of furniture and tools used in the renovation.

The last computer was taken up in a previous trip, so it was just a temporary fridge (polystyrene box replenished with ice packs from an outside freezer), the foam mattress on the floor, minimal comforts and all the tools, so there was no time for any electronics or software. Back to the house...

The house design had a massive rumpus room adjacent to a small kitchen. After the secretary (when still a three month old pup) pulled strands out of the carpet, a small section in a passage was tiled. The existing tiles were dated and some loose, so you can guess the rest. Yes, correct, like a cancer the tiling requirements spread to cover the whole house. On the march through the kitchen, it became apparent that the kitchen tiles would also need to be replaced, and best to take out the kitchen at the same time. And so it went on for a long time.

Kitchen welded frame

Metal Frame to keep the kitchen units off the floor and provide a large surface for sewing, food preparation and whatever. I wanted to learn to weld plus use SolidWorks' weldments extention, so thought a metal frame would be a good thing. Again, in hindsight, possibly not the best time to learn to weld. The only regret is using a MIG rather than TIG welder, as welding inside with splatter is impractical with tiles. This was discovered when using a tile to shield the metal spray off a cutoff saw outside — metal becomes embedded in the tile and rusts. Testing the same with gasless welding (flux core) on a MIG welder led to the splatter being firmly embedded into the tile. Any angle grinding would have the same consequences. The frames also distort with welding, plus require cladding. This might have been easier with angle iron rather than rectangular profiles. So you see, not all embedded software writers are smart.... For additonal photos of the frames, see SolidWorks.

Cladding Metal Frames

As mentioned earlier, the metal frames would need to be clad. Gone were the dreams of a professional kitchen in stainless steel with open shelves. Wives want to hide things and not allow any dust to settle on plates or pots. We, on the other hand, recall our caveman days where cleaning merely involved throwing a few bones out of the entrance for archeologists to find many years later. The kitchen was being funded by my wife, so her rules applied. So it came to drawers as a compromise, as the duplicate groceries (mostly both opened) were blamed on not being able to see past the first one on a shelf, so drawers it would be. Again, hindsight is excellent, but for those who might stumble on a similar journey; drawers are possibly the worst things to start with. If you want decent drawers with nice runners, plenty of joinery experience will help. And so it came to pass — Blum runners and much joinery experience later...

Kitchen drawers

The drawer fronts were going to be commercial units, but having committed to the frame with its spacing on a 600mm grid, the drawers would require custom made fronts. After placing such beautiful wood on the top surfaces (Papua New Guinean Rosewood, which was jointed, glued and sanded by Durable Hardwoods in Adelaide), we decided to use wood on the front drawers. They are solid wood and will move or distort with seasonal change. The locally available Australian Oak (actually eucalyptus) allowed long straight pieces to be jointed together, then cut to flow the timber patterns across adjacent drawer fronts. The lengths were limited by transport in a vehicle, rather than what was available, but our four metre bench tops (including the sink side) have the same patterns.


Tales from the Woods

Wooden Kitchen Counter

The kitchen counter top was PNG Rosewood with the sides and cladding mostly solid Australian Oak. Internal frames were plywood inside the original melamine over the base of the metal frame. The far side below the wall cupboards was a timber slab with the leading edge still intact, and had more character than the Rosewood tops, however, it is not as stable and as a softer wood, it will wear easier. The pine slab was a lot cheaper and will feature in a future outdoor entertainment area — we will not be tackling another kitchen again!

Kitchen from rumpus room side

Kitchen from rumpus room side which covered the wall removed in the photo at the top of this page. The new 90cm oven would find a new home in September when the house was broken into before being rented out.


The flood signs beside the road have always made me wonder if they were overly cautious, or just 2 metres as a standard item in a coastal warehouse. Well, on the last trip we were really surprised to see plenty of water along the A39 below Forbes. Nobody would imagine such a flat and usually dry countryside would get such a downpour. Well, we did not have TV or internet connectivity, but did not think the weather was that bad before leaving South Australia.

Flood waters below Forbes

Taken 28th August on the last trip from McLaren Vale to Brisbane. Luckily the road was raised otherwise we might have been stranded for a few days. The rest of the trip would not have suggested any major rain, so next time do not ignore flood warnings!

Abandoned towns

Blue Bird Cafe

Blue Bird Cafe in Rankin Springs. By now the phone camera was so badly out, it placed it almost 100km south, but we had been past this rather derelict landmark so often, that a quick street view on Google Earth confirmed its location. Many of the smaller towns along the way have lost the younger generation as they moved to professional jobs in the city or simply ran out of opportunities in their communities. In some places, there is not even fuel, so when they charge almost 20 cents a litre more than in Adelaide, you wonder what went wrong. Old supermarkets, banks and even police stations are all boarded up. Somehow, there always seems to be a Royal Hotel that keeps the beer flowing. It would seem that the pokie machines are also an attraction. Most of our travels were to get to Brisbane for a weekend, but occasionally we were on the road on a Friday evening. The local pubs had raffles for several packs of meat, plus a Joker draw. Mendooran was one of these, and the little pub in Goolgowi was also very pleasant. Meals in the pubs are great where ever we went. We prefer wine to beer, but the beers were always ice cold and $5 a pint in the smaller towns. Much cheaper than the cities — perhaps to make up for the petrol price differences.


Sydney Harbour, Melbourne, Brisbane along the river and Hobart will always be big tourist destinations. We did seven return trips, another one way to get a car to Brisbane, and the last one to finally leave McLaren Vale for Dayboro (Brisbane). It was 37,000km in a few months plus the 2200km for the car. It certainly gave plenty of opportunity to take different routes and explore places that you would not normally have time to visit. Some detours were a bit adventurous (Bingara from Narrabri over the passes in the Mount Kaputar National Park in a full van), but the roads are pretty easy to get around. Trucks might be intimidating at first, but driving a van seems to help. The truck drivers are under a lot more pressure than I was, so they are going to overtake you, besides the brand new van did not need to be pushed too hard. Driving behind a truck reduces the chances of a kangaroo collision (we hoped and so far, so good), particularly at night. The smaller towns in northern New South Wales — Guyra, Glen Innes, Deepwater and Bingara are worth visiting, plus being close to Brisbane, can get there with company — the wife and secretary. For those who have not met the secretary, see her in Relocating the secretary, and as a younger pup, in Team's Qualifications.