West Woombye

When you're constructing telecommunications sites that help connect people right across Australia, sometimes just getting to the site can be part of the challenge.

In some cases, this can be due to distance, terrain or even weather. For our Queensland construction team, the combination of wet weather and challenging terrain made for a complex build at the now completed West Woombye wireless tower on the Sunshine Coast.

West Woombye incorporates the Blackall Range, a mountain range that dominates the hinterland area of the Sunshine Coast. Tasked with installing a new 40m steel monopole to help increase connectivity for the local population, the Ventia construction team, led by field manager Cezary Szablowski, was instantly confronted with a number of challenges to get the tower built.

Existing driveways and council roads around the area were not suitable for the vehicles required to carry the tower into the site, nor the equipment required to help lift the structure into place.

While some works and upgrades on the access tracks were undertaken, these were still not enough to accommodate a semi-trailer. With the trucks unable to get past the bottom of the hill, the team was required to develop a solution to transport the pole sections up to the site.

"Due to the lack of available access for semi-trailers, the pole section unloading had to be undertaken some two-kilometres from the site," Queensland Construction Manager Ian Hutchison said. Each section then had to be walked-in to the site using two articulated franna cranes."

When constructing a pole of this type, a 130-tonne slewing crane is generally used to erect the structure. To get the crane to site, a steep access track had to be navigated.  Prior to starting the journey, the team identified a loss of traction as a potential hazard and implemented a safety control of a 30-tonne excavator with a purpose built, engineered sling attached to the front of the crane to track in front if the crane lost traction.

It wasn't just site access that the team had to contend with. The Sunshine Coast generally receives heavy rainfall across the year, and this particular site was located adjacent to a steep natural drainage gully which feeds three dams at lower elevations.

'We had some significant rainfall during the build," Ian said. 'To manage this and to prevent erosion, contouring of the hillside was undertaken, together with diversion drainage structures and hydro-mulching."

Despite all this, the team was able to deliver a quality outcome for the client, and importantly, a new wireless service for the local population.