The Department of Defence’s Woomera Range Complex located in South Australia, approximately 500km northwest of Adelaide, is comprised of both the Woomera Test Range, RAAF Base Woomera and the Nurrungar Test Range.
The function of the Woomera Test Range is to provide a specialised operations environment in support of directed whole-of-Defence activities for the testing of war materiel and other activities in the wider national interest. The range also supports a wide variety of trials covering many Defence related technologies including ground-based weapons systems, explosive ordnance and hazardous materials, and specialised force preparation activities. The Woomera Test Range is managed by Air Force Test Ranges Squadron, a command unit of the Air Warfare Centre.
Due to the ageing systems for aerospace test, evaluation and development trials at the Woomera Test Range, Defence operators were restricted in their ability to execute complex activities from using obsolete range equipment. The project to remediate these deficiencies was designated as Project AIR 3024 Phase 1 Woomera Range Remediation. The Woomera Range Safety and Control System Remediation was a subproject to AIR 3024 Phase 1 and comprised of infrastructure and facilities upgrade works.
National Aboriginal Construction Partners Projects (NACP Projects) were engaged by the Department of Defence to deliver the Woomera Range Safety and Control System Remediation project. Four of the civil work packages for the project were awarded by NACP Projects to Intract Australia.
Scope of Work
Project works included the delivery of building hardstand plateaus, spray seal pavement areas, concrete footpaths, wastewater lagoons, stormwater, reinforced concrete box culverts, swales and ponds, access roads and compounds using 150mm thick PM2/20 rubble materials and security fencing in several remote outback locations in the Woomera Defence Range.
Locations included the Range Control Centre, Communications Interface Building, Maintenance Storage Facility, Wild Dog Hill Road, Pasta 2, Skye Instrument 1 and others.
Works totalled 137,700m² of road base materials approximating 19km of roadworks, 10,400m² of hardstand pavements and two wastewater lagoons.
Workforce peaked at 14 personnel completing 16,800 work hours across all sites. Plant and equipment utilised included a D6 dozer, 22t excavator, 140M and 14M graders, two 10t rollers, two 40t articulated dump trucks, three 15,000L and two 26,000L water trucks and two W380 loaders.
Limited Construction Water
Construction water was not readily available at many of the remote sites. The largest component of the works, Rawlinson Hill, was located 60km along dirt roads from the closest water source, or 100km from Woomera when water at the nearby location was unavailable. To help mitigate the time lost in travel for construction water, ten 30,000L water tanks were placed along the proposed track of Rawlinson Hill Road. These tanks were fed from a local dam and bore, arranged through the local station owner allowing access to construction water.
At many of the work sites there was no phone network coverage. Satellite phones were used at each site to allowing for daily contact to all project sites at all times. UHF radios were present in all vehicles to ensure that all personal on site were able to communicate with each other at any time. Each site included a leading hand to facilitate the day to day work activities allowing the supervisor to check on other sites across multiple locations. Some sites were separated by distances up to 80km.
Two Indigenous personnel were employed on the project full-time with additional personnel employed on an intermittent basis achieving a 21% Indigenous Participation. Indigenous personnel were predominately employed as dump truck, skid steer, excavator, roller and water truck operators.
The Kokatha People, the Traditional Owners of large section of the land in the north of South Australia including the land surrounding the Department of Defence’s Woomera Prohibited Area, were consulted and engaged with during the works. Intract Australia utilised the services of the Kokatha People through the Kokatha Martin Joint Venture for the supply of plant, supply or operators and labour, supply of rubble material and to self-perform the delivery of one of the Work Packages.
The Kokatha people provided heritage services through their identification, clearance and monitoring of works to ensure the protection of significant sites. Works were stopped whenever items of cultural significance were identified. A Kokatha representative was present on each site when new ground was broken to mitigate environmental issues.
All significant trees were all marked and identified using tape for protection during construction works. Areas of cultural significance were flagged with physical barriers and signage designating them as no-go areas. All sites were marked on drawings and displayed in the project’s site office facilities and were discussed in all daily prestart meetings.