In 2016 the National Trust commenced a major project at Ellensbrook, funded by Lotterywest, which included conservation works to the house and archaeological excavations underneath the floors.
The approach to the conservation of the house was to maintain and conserve existing fabric (original materials) where possible, replacing materials where necessary with ‘like for like.’ Replacement mortars have been made from local sands. Lime for making limewash was collected from the nearby beach with Traditional Owner representatives.
When the house was first built in 1857 no foundations were laid, so the timber support posts were placed directly in the ground. This has caused ongoing problems with rising damp, which has, over time, damaged walls and floorboards in the house. Ground stabilisation and drainage have been a priority of conservation works. Grout injection, boron treatment, and a new drain have been designed to stabilise in-ground timbers.
Salt has also been removed from interiors and exteriors of the house limewashed following the removal of earlier cement repairs from the walls. Floorboards were taken up so they could be dried and the build-up of sand under the floors could be removed. To ensure that no important historical evidence was lost archaeologists were brought in to excavate under the floor, with Traditional Owners monitoring these works.
Training courses at Ellensbrook have provided participants with an understanding of traditional stonemasonry practices as well as limewashing techniques. New fences have been erected using traditional fencing techniques as part of a fencing workshop.
The waterwheel, built by the Terry family (descendants of the Bussells) in the 1950s, was relocated to its original location beside the brook.
The National Trust will continue to conserve this place into the future and to share the stories of its Aboriginal and settler past.