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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

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

Sources and References


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Concrete Technology

Pioneering attempts to produce cement in this country began in 1882, following early uses of imported cement from England, but it was not until 1889-1892, when cement kilns and works were initially established in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, that Portland cement manufacture showed signs of becoming a successful venture enterprise. Today there are ten major cement companies, serving all States in Australia with Portland cements of normal, high-early strength, low-heat and sulphate-resisting classification and composition; and there are Australian-established pre-mixed concrete companies successfully operating abroad.

Typical innovative applications of concrete technology in progressive practice briefly exemplified in the following chronological review:

Mass concrete footings and turrets of houses, Annandale, New South Wales, 1870.

Beetaloo Dam, South Australia, the largest concrete dam constructed at the time south of the Equator, 1888.

Barossa Dam, one of the world's first 60 m radius true arch dams, South Australia, 1901.

Precast concrete lighthouse, Bradley's Head, Sydney, 1904.

Melbourne Public Library, 35 m diameter octagon surrounded by stacked-book annules and surmounted by what was then the largest reinforced concrete dome in the world, 1906.

Concrete pipe manufacture by the centrifugal vibrospin process, originated by W. R. Hume in Australia, 1910.

The Sunderland method of cement-penetration macadam road construction is pioneered by consolidating coarse-stone aggregate in two layers enclosing steel-fabric reinforcement, and filling the voids with cement sand grout and surface-grade aggregate. The system originated in Sandringham, Victoria, in the 1920s and became extensively used throughout Australia.

By 1935 Australian pre-mixed concrete companies were established to become placed amongst the most advanced in the world.

Rocla roller-suspension vibrospin process of manufacture of precast and prestressed reinforced concrete pipes was pioneered at Springvale, Victoria, during 1943 and used for the first time to construct the Fish River and Lithgow Water Supply pipelines, using rubber gasket joints, New South Wales, 1944-45.

Australian pioneered reinforced concrete building panels, 80-90 mm thick and up to 13 m long, are prefabricated and precast on industrialised assembly-line steel tables, prior to being transported to building-estate sites and bolted together to form miscellaneous home units for the Victorian Housing Commission, Holmesglen, Victoria, 1945.

Economic factory-to-site usage of prestressed concrete units proves advantageous, in the first Australian bridge built with precast prestressed units at Bowral, New South Wales, 1952.

High quality concrete masonry manufacture was established at Adelaide in 1954, using a high-speed Besser Vibrapac machine. This installation is followed by other fully or semi-automatic plants during the next decade or so throughout Australia. Industrialised versatility is exemplified by high-pressure steam autoclave curing or burner curing, and in facilities for producing colour-toned, split-ribbed blocks, split-faced bricks, and interlocking paving units.

Multi-storey building efficiency is being improved with reinforced or prestressed concrete flat-plate floor construction, giving rise to height saving and reticulation servicing advantages, e.g. Caltex House, Sydney, 1957.

Victorian 'Shalite' expanded shale lightweight-aggregate concrete is made to economic advantage in the construction of the 28-storey 'Consolidated Zinc' steel-frame building. Concreting practices are carefully controlled with the use of high-frequency vibrators, or vibrating-screed and 'jitter-bug' means of compaction, followed by surface finishing and thorough curing to ensure uniform moisture conditions in the maturing concrete, Melbourne, 1962.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - CSIRO; Victorian Housing Commission

People in Bright Sparcs - Taylor, W. H.

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 326 - 327, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher