Saturday, July 28, 2007

White Ants

From the sheltered perspective of Ireland, Australia is a place populated by ferocious creatures. From the tiny Sydney Funnel-web spider to the gigantic Crocodiles of Queensland, from the fictitious Drop Bears to the very real Common Brown snake, it would appear that Australian fauna are intrinsically malign. So one shouldn't be surprised to discover the place if crawling with termites (or White Ants) earnestly bent on the destruction of all human constructions.

I knew there was some termite damage in the roof of the house when I bought it. "A couple of carpenters will sort it out in a day", I was told. Also there was no urgency to the work. It appeared that a termite invasion had been chemically thwarted decades ago but much if the damage was covered over rather than repaired.

When electricians recently descended on my little Surry Hills cottage, they exposed some of the damage in the bedrooms and I decided it was no longer feasible to ignore it. I set about identifying and replacing effete floorboards.


A lot of the damaged boards look fine on the surface, but they are little more than a paper thin veneer over a fragile honeycomb of minute tunnels. In many cases you can crush the stuff to powder with your hands and none of the affected floorboards would hold the weight of a person.

Floor Post-Banquet

The photo above shows something of a low point in the life of my house; the carpets are up and the dead boards removed but not replaced. Meanwhile everything (carpets, underlay, deceased floorboards, replacement floorboards, disassembled bed, clothes) is piled up in the remaining bedroom.

As I write it has been put to rights. I have two bedrooms once again and slept in a proper bed for the first time in weeks. There's still a big tidy to be done and the downstairs remains formidable, but more significantly, I now live in fear of the "Revenge of the White Ants".

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