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Aussie ingenuity helps tackle tricky terrain

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With the countdown to the ski season well and truly underway, the Mt Hotham Resort Management Board (Mt Hotham RMB) can breathe a sigh of relief, having successfully completed a major stormwater pipeline upgrade through the Swindlers Valley ski field – despite very challenging conditions.

The new 520m long pipeline and associated services, installed by Mt Hotham RMB and pipeline contractor Extons, replaces the steel pipe originally installed in the 1980s which was found to have deteriorated.  Rocla provided more than 200 x 2100mm dia Class 3 reinforced concrete pipes (8 of which were fabricated with 5 degree bends), 4 x 3000mm dia reinforced concrete pipes plus 900 x 900mm reinforced concrete pits plus grates and accessories for the project.  Rocla also supplied 400m of 600mm dia Plastream® steel reinforced polyethelene pipe for the surface drainage and 1350mm dia reinforced concrete pipe for a separate creek – also with fabricated bends.

Project Manager for Mt Hotham RMB Mick Cherry has worked with Rocla for a long time and certainly knows the history of the resort, having worked there for more than thirty years. However, he says this project presented a whole new set of challenges that required a fair amount of good old Aussie ingenuity.

“One of the main challenges was the limited access around the site,” says Mick. “Rocla transported the pipes to Mt Hotham – to the top of the mountain - in semi-trailers in convoy, three pipes per semi.  We then used a specially modified forklift to load the pipes onto a specially purchased 6-wheel drive Mac truck, fitted with a pipe cradle.  The pipes were transported on the truck from the stockpile at the top of the mountain one at a time – a total of 204 trips - down the fairly steep 3.5km into the valley.”

“The other challenge was the narrow valley floor – it’s around 25m wide and about 500m long. Due to the size of the pipes and the length of the pipeline, there was a massive amount of earth to move in a very limited space. A lot of things were pre-planned and constructed specially for the job to enable it to happen, including customised equipment for laying the pipes and compacting the fill.  There was a lot of coordination between the contractors and other allied services to work in together.”

With the toughest part of the project well and truly complete, the focus now moves to revegetating the valley and making final preparations for the winter snow season.

“Rocla met our schedule for manufacture and supply of pipes and arranged the logistics of getting them transported up to Mt Hotham.  It was critical the supply of pipes kept pace to avoid downtime and keep things rolling,” says Mick.  “Rocla managed to do that.”