Renovate Australia

Home improvement blog about renovating our Queenslander house in Townsville, Australia, and our home in Adelaide, SA

History of our House in Townsville, Australia

September 24th, 2013 by Bill Hutchison · 2 Comments

1870 - 1930 Colonial Federation and Interwar Pyramid HouseThe house was first built as a miner’s cottage around 1870 in Charters Towers during the gold rush. It was a simple 4-room colonial style miner’s pyramid roof style house.

House Being Moved by HorsesAround the early 20th century (1915 – 1930) the house was moved, most likely by a team of horses, from Charters Towers to Townsville when the gold mines shut down.

1870s Miners Cottage in TownsvilleWe purchased the house in 2005 in Townsville, performed some major renovation and upgrades to the house, and then sold it in 2009 prior to moving to Canada.

My son Caleb is currently learning about the Gold Rushes that have happened in Australian history. It is quite fascinating how much Australia has been influenced through it’s various gold rushes. During one decade after the first gold rush the Australian population doubled as fortune seekers came to Australia to try to get rich!

I thought that the history of our home, and many others like it during that era of Australian history, also made an interesting footnote for my son to learn about …


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DIY Keyboard Tray for Ikea Besta Desk

September 10th, 2013 by Bill Hutchison · 13 Comments

Recently we purchased a white Ikea Besta Desk with the integrated cable tray under the back of the desk. The tray is great for organising cables and power boards.

Ikea Besta Desk White

I like the way that they cables and everything is hidden under the desk, but I ran into a lot of problems finding a keyboard tray for the desk because of the cable management outlet on the back. The first tray that I tried was the Ikea Summera Pull-out keyboard shelf. It was a good first choice since it’s only $15.00 in Australia, and it’s from the same store I bought the desk from…

Ikea Summera Pull-out keyboard shelf

The problem I had with the Summera keyboard shelf was the long steel rods coming out the back of the back of the keyboard tray. The only way I could have made it work is to have drilled holes through the front wall of the cable tray.

After failing with the Ikea Summera keyboard I tried a Fellowes Underdesk Keyboard Drawer from Officeworks. This keyboard tray was significantly more expensive than the Ikea tray at $70, but I thought I would give it a try…

Fellowes Underdesk Keyboard Drawer

Unfortunately the arms on the sides of this one was also much too long. If I were to install this keyboard tray it would have extended out past the front of the desk about 10cm, or 4″. It was pretty ugly, and didn’t fit my Logitech Wireless Mk550 Keyboard, which extended out past the back of the tray.

With only 34.8 cm between the front of the desk and the cable management tray I was pretty much stuck without option at this point for buying a tray. Since the desk is only 120cm wide I did really want a tray for my keyboard and mouse to free up some space on the desk. This pretty much left my only option as being a DIY solution …

Building a DIY Keyboard Tray

Prestige 300mm25kg Drawer SlideI headed over to Bunnings to pick up the hardware that I needed to build a keyboard tray. In the end all I had to pick up for two items:

  • White Melamine Shelf – 1200x300c16mm
  • Prestige 300mm/25kg Drawer Slide

The shelf cost about $12.50 and the drawer slide $7.00. So for less than $20 I was able to build myself a full width keyboard tray.

I cut the melamine shelf down to 1138mm (should have probably done it to 1135 as it was a bit tight, but still worked). After cutting it down I attached the tray part of the slides to the edges of the shelf.

Cut the Melamine Shelf to 1135mm

I then attached the drawer slides to the top holes in the side of the desk. Two of the holes lined up perfectly for the drawer slide, but I added two other screws (which were included with the drawer slides) to make sure it was secure. You could probably adjust this down one more hole if you wanted more clearance for your keyboard and mouse.

Attach Drawer Slide to Top Holes

In the end I finished up with a keyboard tray almost the full width of the desk, with plenty of room for notepaper, the keyboard, and the mouse, all for under $20.00! A much better deal than the Fellows Keyboard Tray, and much more functional than the Ikea Summa keyboard shelf…

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How Tall Can A Flagpole Be in Adelaide, South Australia

June 29th, 2013 by Bill Hutchison · 2 Comments

Canada Flag

With Canada Day just around the corner I was wondering about putting up a flag on the house to celebrate. There are a few flag poles around the community, including one at the Fijian Consulate, which is a house in our neighbourhood.

Republic of Fiji Consulate in Adelaide South Australia

Given the local council’s tendency to regulate as much as they can here I was curious about what the restrictions that they have to having a residential flagpole at your house.

Best I can tell from a few local council web-sites as far as limitations for a residential flag pole are as follows:

  • Standalone flagpole must not exceed 10-metres in height
  • Flagpoles attached to a building you are limited to 4-metres above the top most point of the building it’s attached to
  • Heights that exceed these require development approval

To be honest those limitations are not as bad as I thought they would be, I expected a shorter height to be required.

These are just guidelines that I have found, if you are planning to put up your own flag pole I would recommend contacting your local council to find out what their own regulations are.

Image source: CANADA FLAG 3 x 5 foot

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Space Saving Fold-Out Convertible Desk by Dealfind

June 20th, 2013 by Bill Hutchison · 2 Comments

Space Saving Fold-Out Convertible Desk

I love this idea if you are limited in available space, but still need a small workstation in your house or apartment. Ikea used to have something similar to this, but even though it seemed to be quite popular, Ikea no longer sells it.

You can pick this up right now in Canada through DealFind for $150.00. If I was still living in Canada it is something I would have considered as a workstation for the kids.


If you want a DIY version of a similar desk then Ana White has some great plans for a flip down wall desk that you can use. She makes it look easy, but I realise that with most of these projects what’s easy for someone else to do, might not be easy for me to do …


Just found this desk available in Australia for $251 over at I do like it, but not that much!

White Fold-Out Murphey Convertible Desk

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