IF you think getting into Kurt and Beau Bunter’s cubbyhouse is simply a walk across the buffalo grass, forget it.
For a start, you have to get past the security camera which pans the yard, channelling vision of anything that moves straight upstairs.
Those who make it across are then faced with another challenge: the booby-trapped ramp.
One wrong move and you or your companion could cop a blast of cold water via a pressure-controlled switch.
Kurt and Beau, aged five and 18 months, are the lucky owners of what may be the Sunshine Coast’s best cubbyhouse.
It does not just have all the bells and whistles – it has lights, a PA system, electric piano, and more.
The cubby is the result of more than four years work by their father, Brett, a former mechanic who happens to be handy with tools and gadgets. It started as an empty shell which he and his wife, Michelle, spotted for sale on the roadside not far from their home when Kurt was only a year old.
Brett got designs on something a bit more interesting when he decided to put the cubby on stilts.
“I went up to the recycling centre at Buderim looking for building materials – all the stilts – and I started seeing stuff, like fish finders, and I thought, ‘This is all 12-volt. I can wire that up and put it in the cubbyhouse’.”
Anything that has lights, buttons or switches that the boys can play with is fair game for Brett, although pieces of secondhand clothes dryers, a broken clock, and old computer game controllers have also been procured for different purposes, such as skylights.
The cubby is fitted with a winch, various electronic fish finders and other sonar equipment which are unlikely to find any fish at all at North Buderim but do beep and flash a lot, much to the delight of Kurt, Beau and their little cousins and friends.
One wall is fitted with a panel of trawler gauges, still labelled port, starboard, stern, head, anchor, red, green and more, while another contraption reads “oscilloscope”.
In its former life, it would have measured voltages but all it is required to do now is switch on and off and put a smile on kids’ faces.
There are more buttons to press an old Telstra phone system, and a CB radio near the door picks up the chatter of an occasional truck driver or traveller.
The 12-volt system which runs all of the gadgetry is powered by the sun. Switches time out after 15 minutes so that nothing can drain the system if the boys disappear for a game of chasey or to play in the sandpit.
Ropes of LED lights funk the place up at night but are used sparingly.
“Only on Friday and Saturday nights,” Brett said, “to save electricity.”
The cubby remains a work in progress.
“I wanted to put a second storey on but I wasn’t allowed,” said Brett, whose next project will be to fit a control panel from a vacuum system at the state library which was a casualty of the January floods in Brisbane.
“I saw it by the side of the road and left a note asking if I could have it for the cubby, and the bloke said I could have it,” Brett said.
Brett’s handiwork is not limited to the cubbyhouse. He has a shed full of more projects, most of them with wheels, such as bikes, quad bikes, mini bikes, and go-karts, which have been rescued and repaired or are being restored to working order. It all spells heaven for the boys, who love being in the backyard.
“Kurt doesn’t have a computer game and has no interest in getting one,” Brett said, with a hint of pride.