No matter how remote the building or renovation project, Lise and Richard Browning will turn up, fully equipped, ready to swing their tools into action.

Story + Photos Ken Eastwood

In the steamy community of Kalumburu, with the smell of frangipanis ripe in the air and kids kicking a footy nearby, Lise and Richard Browning are wielding nail guns, circular saws and bush know-how. It’s October, and while they’re working 250 kilometres north of the Gibb River Road – in one of the remotest parts of the Kimberley – on an old termite-infested, cypress pine arts centre, they’re keeping one eye on the job at hand, and another on the weather. 

“We need to finish this, get the roof on and pour a huge concrete slab before it starts raining, before the wet. That includes mixing 35 tonnes of concrete by hand,” Lise says. “The wet season is predicted to come early this year and we have to get our rig out of here before that happens, because the locals say we could be stuck here until May.”

Dealing with flooded roads and wet-season rains is just one of the many challenges the dynamic duo face in their business Remote Building Services. They’ve also faced huge bushfires and dealing with cock-ups with critical building supplies they’ve ordered – not easy when you’re
15 hours’ drive from the nearest Bunnings.

Fully mobile, Lise, 46, and Richard, 45, travel with all their tools and a Bushtracker van, doing major renovations, repairs, roofing and building work on remote pastoral properties and in communities from Victoria and western New South Wales to Arnhem Land and the Kimberley. From building new houses or installing kitchen cabinetry, bathroom remodelling and tiling to painting and plastering or roofing, there seems little they can’t do. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #112

Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2017