With 10 children and 19 grandchildren building cubby houses is a labour of love for Bundaberg’s Bruce Mortensen.
“Cubby houses built tough with love” is Bruce’s motto and you hear the passion in his voice when he describes finding the hobby that captured not only his free time but his heart.
Bruce has worked in the building industry for more than half a century but he said even as a young child he had a passion for working with wood.
Affectionately known as Pa, Bruce made his first cubbyhouse for his daughters more than three decades ago, and he said there had always been a strong desire for tinkering and building.
“Pa made his first cubby for my sisters and I, 35 years ago while building our home on our farm at Bucca,” Bruce’s daughter Kristy-Lee Roberts said.
“He wanted a place for us to play safely while he built the house, it had a veranda and a deck with a sliding glass door.”
With a knack for turning timber into a home, Bruce has created a variety of cubby houses, all named after his grandchildren, and even a one-off “monstrosity” located high in a tree in his own backyard.
“That is a monstrosity,” he laughed.
“That took a long time to build and was very hard to build as it was up so high, but I’m glad it’s all done now – the kids love it.”
Working in a timber merchant yard, Bruce said he spent his spare time building the cubbyhouses.
“It takes nearly a week just to get them painted,” Bruce said.
“We start with a base, and then the frame, then clad it and roof on, before the windows and doors; then paint it.”
Bruce said having a large family inspired him to create a variety of styles, but he loved the fact the cubbyhouses helped get them outside enjoying the outdoors and their own backyards.
“I have 10 kids, and 19 grandkids at the moment but that’s growing all the time!” he said.
“They love, it is good to make it for them too – just the enjoyment they get out of it.
“The fact they (the grandchildren) can get in there and play, somewhere they can call their own.
“I love working with timber – it keeps me out of trouble.”