Friends of Maatsuyker Island


By Ron Fehlberg

David and Ron working on the floors – Photo Marina Campbell

The take over of Maatsuyker Island by the Tasmanian Government from The Australian Maritime Safety Authority took place in 1998.
The Parks & Wildlife service took responsibility for the island and the volunteer caretaker program. In the ensuing years the houses fell into a state of decay. The gutters had rotted and fallen off, causing water to soak through brickwork, slowly seeping into plates, bearers, joists and floorboards. The floors were covered with cardboard and a vinyl overlay holding in the moisture. Over the years the floors have slowly rotted.

Maatsuyker Kitchen Floor before replacing Photo – Ron Fehlberg

In 2003, the Friends of Maatsuyker Island was formed. They have spent hundreds of hours repairing weather and age related damage to the heritage buildings. In partnership with PWS all gutters on the three houses were replaced with stainless steel in 2012 stopping the ingress of water.

The past few years have seen the building team on working bees spend the majority of their time repairing floors and in lots of cases completely replacing the entire floor of various bedrooms, kitchens, & verandahs in Quarters 1,2,& 3; installing improved subfloor ventilation, a damp proof coarse, bottom plates, and new floor joists. We have removed rotted timber flooring and replaced it with tongue and grooved hardwood floor boards. Mouldy and moisture trapping floor coverings are gradually being removed. The internal floors of the quarters are progressively transforming to sound Tas Oak floor boards sanded and stained with tung oil.

Maatsuyker Kitchen during construction. Photo Ron Fehlberg

Wildcare Grants have greatly assisted us in purchasing and transporting timber by helicopter with PWS support to replace these floors during our last two working bees. It will be much safer for our caretakers and volunteers in the future to be standing on solid floors.

All works undertaken are with guidance from Peter Rigozzi PWS Heritage Officer.

Maatsuyker Kitchen Floor after replacment Photo – Ron Fehlberg