Australia: Renovating during COVID-19, Part 6

Part 6 is the last chapter of this short renovating series in Australia, during COVID-19.

Just when you think you’ve finished renovating – although deep down, you know differently – you discover that there’s still more to repair and renovate.

A little background

Initially, we set 6 weeks to complete a mammoth renovating project, after flying from Italy to Australia, at the height of COVID-19.

You may like to read Part 1 (the reason for so much renovating), Part 2 (internal and external house painting), Part 3 (Replacing the patio and enclosure), Part 4 (kitchen renovating), and Part 5 (renovating the bathroom and en-suite) of this series, before continuing.

Renovating during COVID-19, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Oceania

As COVID-19 intensified around the globe with many aeroplanes grounded, we continue to add more tasks to the already huge renovating project – we have more time now…

Clearing the Amazon

The garden requires major clearing with overgrown trees and dead leaves throughout the property.

Tree loppers prune the very tall trees – expensive – and we work on the rest.

A plethora of bins later and the yard is looking much tidier. Also take the opportunity to fill vacant garden bed spots due to dead plants, with new varieties.

All of this Amazon clearing takes a lot of time. Although, with COVID-19 and Australia’s restrictions in full swing, time, is what we have right now. And so, continue to find issues to repair, improve, or renovate.

A little gravel

Besides clearing the Amazon in this renovating series, later decide to gravel the back of the yard and top-up gravel on one side of the house. The back is a dead spot and prone to tenants using this area as a rubbish dump.

So, laying down black weed mat, one tonne of river stones’ later, and loads of back-breaking shovelling, this part of the work is completed.

Renovating the garden, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
Much cleaner and lower maintenance

Much prefer this cleaner look than weeds and damp mossy grass. Over the years, tenants have taught me to keep areas as maintenance-free as possible.

Cycad sadness

On first arriving at the house, seeing the sorry state of my 20-plus-year-old Cycads (Sago Palms), nearly brought tears to my eyes. Only 7 are left from more than 20 mature plants that were flourishing.

  • Cycads, renovating the garden, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
  • Cycads, renovating the garden, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
  • Cycads, renovating the garden, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
  • Cycads, renovating the garden, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Oceania

The Blue Butterfly, which is more a moth than a butterfly, also attacks new shoots. Laying its eggs in the heart of the cycad, when the lava hatches, the caterpillars set out busily chewing through any new fronds. This weakens and eventually kills the plant.

Cycads, renovating the garden, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
Blue Butterfly’s caterpillar feasting on new Cycad shoots

I’m learning a plethora of horticultural skills just to bring my plants back to life. Especially, as a small cycad is very expensive. The size of these mature cycads run in the hundreds of dollars to replace.

After 5 months of love, care, spraying with White Oil every fortnight, 1 of the 6 remaining plants still in a very sorry state, is starting to regenerate.

Most of the plants in the garden are diseased and weakened in some way, as they haven’t received much care in 14 years, so I’m ecstatic that one is growing again!

Renovating Doors

Besides the 21 internal doors and one external door that needs repairing, filling, sanding, undercoating, and top coating, the entrance door is also in a sorry state.

The leadlight is cracked so badly that replacing the door crosses my mind, but it’s costly. And, I really like this design of the Australian Waratah flower, in case you’re wondering about the design.

Bottom-part of one badly cracked pane

Many phone calls and a couple of quotes’ later and I finally discover through word of mouth, an excellent leadlighter, which is a dying art.

Thinking of taking classes to start creating my own leadlight art…when I have a little spare time.

The repair is faultless. The coloured and patterned glass is a 99.9% match of the original glass. The leadlighter also completes the repairs within the promised time for me to give the door a new lick of paint and life.

Carpet raking

Have you heard of carpet raking? No, me neither, but a quick online search and all is revealed.

A little background for you, when the carpet isn’t vacuumed or cleaned over many years, the pile flattens. If it’s really dirty, this also flattens the underlay. The first carpet cleaner advises of this dilemma, then later, the second cleaner gives the same verdict.

Carpet raking, renovating, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
Flattened pile after first professional steam clean

This is a problem as the carpet needs ripping up, new underlay installed, then re-laying the carpet. Just imagine all the nasty bugs living in the carpet that has rarely been disturbed for years? Something lived in the carpet when I was bitten, resulting in the plague!

One way to bring the flattened pile back up is to dampen the carpet using water in a spray bottle (I used carpet shampoo), then fork the area with a kitchen fork or a carpet rake. As I don’t have a rake, I fork the carpet on all 4 bedrooms with a kitchen fork, on my hands and knees.

Taking a room at a time with rest days in-between as this is a slow boring job, it takes around an hour each room. The large main bedroom takes almost a couple of hours.

The result is that the carpet looks and feels much better. Ready for the second carpet shampoo/steam clean and hoping that this does bring the pile up even more.

Renovating extras

The fascias of many light switches are replaced as they’re either too dirty, old or painted over, during the decades of tenants.

powerpoint, house renovating, Brisbane, Australia, Oceania
Ruined powerpoint – many in this state

A little sightseeing

Even though we’re exhausted from renovating, there’s always a little window of time, for a spot of local sightseeing.

  • Brisbane street art, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
  • Brisbane street art, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
  • Brisbane street art, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
  • Brisbane signs, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
  • Brisbane signs, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
  • Brisbane signs, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
  • Brisbane signs, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
  • David Bowie, Brisbane signs, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
  • Guitar, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
  • COVID-19 sign, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Oceania

It’s always great to wander the streets of Brisbane. Especially, after years of being away and check out what’s new. Typically, this involves trying to find some street art, which is never too far away…

The Brisbane City Cross River Rail Project displays every-changing street art in its pedestrian tunnel during the building and a pleasure to stroll through…

This is The End

The End is also an epic song by The Doors! πŸ˜‰

Renovating for 6 solid weeks enduring countless hours – 12 to 13-hours each day, 7 days each week – the main renovating that we set out to do is finally finished. Although now, we’re throwing in many extras, which keeps us busy for the next couple of months.

paint brush, renovating a house, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
Painted the fence – hanging up my paintbrush now (Photo credit: Neil Lintern)


With Australia imposing COVID-19 restrictions, closed borders, travel only allowed within a 50-kilometre-radius, international travel only allowed on compassionate grounds, what else is there to do? Renovate or get a job, of course.

Although, as with many countries around the world, many people in Australia are also out of work. The job market is tough with a plethora of applicants for each job. Employers are also offering lower pay rates than usual. The rumour is that it’s an employer’s market, but then again, everyone is hurting in 2020 due to COVID-19.

For now, it’s back to our house to start renovating all over again. But first, we clear out our garage that’s been storage for our home contents for 6 years, while we travelled around the world.

renovating, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
Not all of the empty boxes from storage

Here’s to hoping that 2021 will be a better year for everyone and not another Pandora’s Box!

Restored my grandmother’s trunk that’s over 70-years-old

Sincerely hope that everyone stays safe during this pandemic. πŸ™‚

I’ll leave you with this virtual tour of the house to end the renovating series.

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more global images. More posts at Image Earth Travel.

31 responses to “Australia: Renovating during COVID-19, Part 6”

  1. equinoxio21 Avatar

    Compliments on your renovation. I couldn’t do it any more. πŸ˜‰
    Aussie power plugs are so “funny”. From a “frog” point of view, they’re even “worse” than English plugs. South America is so influenced by the US, all plugs here are American. I like the slanted approach.
    I hope you can find some sort of job. I imagine it must be difficult. Best of luck. Now as far as renting, I’m selling my “properties” in France. One’s already almost sold, starting the process on the other one.
    This is the end, my only friend… 🎢 🎡

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks Brian!
      I love renovating but not for other people to destroy. πŸ˜‰
      This was a mammoth job but well worth it and only hope that I find a tenant that will look after the house this time.
      Isn’t it fun when travelling across continents and need to use different plugs? I used to carry several adapters with me until the universal adapter was invented. I don’t leave home without it now.
      Yes, I remember you mentioned in a previous comment that you’re selling. Sounds as though the campaign is going well.
      Indeed it is and great song… πŸ˜‰
      What will you do with all that cash? Buy an island? A boat?

      1. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Tenants can be a headache. I’d resolved to use an agency for the Paris studios. They handle(d) it. No hassle.
        I may have seen the universal adapter, but I don’t have one. I remember in Singapore and SE Asia, it was a bit complex.
        For the time being, we’ll invest it for monetary yield. Much better tax deal. And keep it in Euros. If I find a small island for that amount I’ll let you know. A boat would be tempting but I’m not a great sailor, and I have a – somewhat – bad back. I don’t see myself on a boat for that reason. Another option is to buy a house in the South of France. Not “CΓ΄te d’azur” or Saint-Tropez, which I know and abhor, maybe in a small town. Montpellier might be an option… We’ll see.
        Be good.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Sounds like a great plan. I’m in two minds with the rental at the moment.
        I have one I bought the right-side widget in my posts, but for some reason, the link isn’t working – typical. Not sure if you’ll need one in a hurry though… πŸ˜‰
        Ha, ha, let me know sounds wonderful!
        Had to rescue your comment out of my Trash folder – lucky I go through everything!
        Always Brian… πŸ˜‰

      3. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Toujours Nilla. πŸ™πŸ»

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        si, Γ¨ vero πŸ™‚
        Ti auguro un bellissimo weekend (no English translation for ‘weekend’ – just the Italian pronunciation).

      5. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Grazie mille. It was a feast. We went to a forest nearby with Daughter #2, walked a good bit, had picnic in the forest. Far from the madding crowd… Yeah!

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Sounds wonderful!
        Love walks in the forest…so soothing.

      7. equinoxio21 Avatar

        I was very soothed… πŸ˜‰

      8. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Excellent! You make me laugh… πŸ˜‰

      9. equinoxio21 Avatar


  2. Patty Avatar

    The result looks marvelous, dear Nilla. Your new renters will have nothing to complain about. Fingers crossed they treat the house like it deserves. XxX

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Patty, thank you for your kind feedback!
      I hope that the new people don’t complain (too much) and look after the house. πŸ˜‰ xx

  3. Angela Gaft Avatar

    Hi Nilla!
    Congratulations with finishing your renovation project! Your house is absolutely beautiful and I love Amazon. You did a great job!
    Now you can relax in your sunroom with good cup of coffee!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Angela for the great feedback!

      I also love the Amazon and have several posts in Peru and Bolivia – would love to return one day.

      The house is up for rent again and hope that the new tenants look after everything this time. We’re back in our house that’s been rented for 6 years so doing some renovating all over again but not as major.

      I love a good cup of coffee! πŸ˜‰


  4. LuLu B - Calabrisella Mia Avatar

    You transformed the garden into a beautiful oasis!! And I love the entrance door, I’m glad you were able to repair it, it would have been such a shame to replace it completely!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for the great feedback!

      It was a lot of very hard work but worth it in the end. I was lucky to find someone that could repair the leadlight. I’ve always wanted to learn this craft, so am researching night courses but with COVID still hanging around, nothing is happening until next year.

      Hope all is well in Cosenza. πŸ˜‰

  5. Leif Price Avatar

    Ohh, that’s beautiful and creative work!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Leif!
      You may want to read how it all started. Check out Part 1 and the other 4 parts in this renovating series. πŸ˜‰

  6. Suzanne Avatar

    I am finally catching up on your progress Nilla. Sorry for the delay! You two have done a fantastic job, and one great thing about doing something physical like renovating is that you can see where all your time has gone. Plus, you get to enjoy it. We used to love doing up previous homes. Now, it is just painting πŸ™‚ In between you got out to enjoy the area, winning!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks Suzanne for your great feedback and hope that you enjoyed the virtual tour video.
      So true about seeing where your time has gone and the progression is fulfilling. We got to enjoy the fruits of our labour for a little while, but back in our home now and need to start renovating this one. Luckily, its condition isn’t as bad as the rental home.

      1. Suzanne Avatar

        Click goes the clog in my tired brain, now I understand! There’s two houses πŸ™‚ Good luck with the next one. Productive time during lockdown.
        Your blog is looking great, very professional.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        No problem at all!
        Thank you, I’m still working on making the site look a little different without changing too much. I need to replace the maps as they don’t look professional. So, just bought some vector files and will play around with those to replace the ones on my site. πŸ˜‰

  7. the eternal traveller Avatar

    So pleased you decided to restore the door instead of replacing it. It’s gorgeous and well worth saving.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      So am I and although not cheap, it’s come up gorgeous and just like new. I was lucky to have found a great leadlighter really and I’m looking right now to do a course so that I can learn this craft. πŸ™‚
      Think I’ll have to wait until 2021 though as courses are cancelled for this year.

      1. the eternal traveller Avatar

        It was worth the cost. πŸ™‚

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Indeed! πŸ™‚
        Do you also appreciate leadlights?

  8. Puzzles of the Soul Avatar

    You have done an amazing job created a beautiful home again. You certainly have patience and perseverance to do the restoration. The Cyads great you managed to revive them. Restored the garden beautifully. One thing which is beyond my thinking is how do people live in such conditions hardly anything had been cleaned or cared for. Very satisfying to have done this and created and restored the beauty. Bless you.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you and I think we did do a great job! Patting myself on the back here… πŸ˜‰

      To answer your question, I have no idea. Think that this is just the way some people live. They don’t know any different (I hope) because if they did, then they they’re deliberately ruining someone else’s home.

      Glad you enjoyed this short renovating series!

      1. Puzzles of the Soul Avatar

        True they do not know any different or been shown how to live.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Sad but true.
        At least our house was left clean after 6 years of renting it out, albeit, there are repairs to do but on the grand scale as this one.
        No rest for the wicked, they say…

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