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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 6

I Construction During The Settlement Years

II The Use Of Timber As A Structural Material

III Structural Steel

IV Concrete Technology

V Housing

VI Industrialised Pre-cast Concrete Housing

VII Ports And Harbours

VIII Roads

IX Heavy Foundations

X Bridges

XI Sewerage

XII Water Engineering
i Pipelines
ii Tunnels
iii Dams
iv Power Stations

XIII Railways

XIV Major Buildings

XV Airports

XVI Thermal Power Stations

XVII Materials Handling

XVIII Oil Industry

XIX The Snowy Mountains Scheme

XX The Sydney Opera House

XXI The Sydney Harbour Bridge

XXII Hamersley Iron

XXIII North West Shelf

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The Snowy Mountains Scheme constructed between 1949 and 1972 involved the first large-scale construction of tunnels in Australia. A total length of about 144 km of large diameter tunnels were required and significant improvements were made to the rate of excavation and safety over what had been achieved elsewhere in the world (Andrews et al. 1964). All the Snowy tunnels were constructed by drill and blast methods. There was a steady improvement in the rate of excavation of tunnels from the Guthega tunnel (1955) where an average advance of about 27 m per six-day week was achieved, to the Murrumbidgee-Eucumbene tunnel (1960) where 97 m was achieved. The improvement was not due to any dramatic change in equipment or method, but rather to a number of small improvements. The long length of many of the Snowy tunnels, for example, enabled contractors to purchase equipment tailor-made for the job and tunnelling crews were together long enough to become highly proficient. In addition the work was undertaken under contract conditions, which gave incentives to both contractors and the labour force to cut costs by increasing the rate of progress.

Table 1

Table 1 Some Long Tunnels of the Snowy Mountains Scheme

An example of the improvement to equipment was the use of the sliding floor which was first used in the Snowy Geehi tunnel (1962).

The improvement of tunnel-boring machines has meant that these machines are now able to be used in rock that was formerly considered too hard for their economic use. For example in 1985 a tunnel boring machine commenced work on the Perisher ski-tube tunnel through granite in the Snowy Mountains.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme

People in Bright Sparcs - Price, Douglas G.

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 370 - 371, Online Edition 2000
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