By Steve Cuff
In Kosciuszko National Park.

THE Snowy 2.0 project at Lobs Hole in the Kosciuszko National Park reached another key milestone with delivery on October 22 of major tunnel boring machine (TBM) components that will drill the main access tunnel to the underground power station cavern.

The arrival of the large sections of infrastructure will be one of many transportation movements in the coming weeks from the Pork Kembla port, via Canberra, Cooma, Adaminaby and finally arriving at Lobs Hole.

Passing through the Kiandra ruins above and crossing the Eucumbene River below. PHOTOS: Steve Cuff.

The delivery consisted of pieces for the first of three Herrenknecht TBMs, each built in Germany, dismantled, shipped to Australia before their road journey to Lobs Hole. Once on site they will be reassembled by the German company who will now work 24 hours a day seven days a week to assemble.

A huge gear ring on the road at Sawyers Hill and the ruins of Sawyers Hut in the foreground in below image.

Snowy 2.0 relations manager Dean Lynch said they were hoping to launch TBM number two for the main access tunnel around about Christmas time.

“The crews will be working 24 hours a day to assemble that tunnel boring machine before Christmas,” said Mr Lynch.

“It is a massive process, there is a huge concrete cradle up there at the moment which the tunnel boring machine will be launched into the mountain.”

“There are specialist tunnel boring machine operators and assemblers on site at the moment, they specialise in that equipment. People have flown in from all around the world, they have been on site waiting for this, especially to build these tunnel boring machines.”

“Even the cutter heads that have to be welded up on site, it is quite technical, they have to be done under exact conditions, so there are special boiler makers on site now.”

The crew await the closure of the road at the entry to Kosciuszko National Park.

The gear ring on the low loader was large in size.

One of the Lampson truck drivers.

A transport convey from Cooma arrived at Adaminaby just after 6am. The freight then had a pit stop at the entrance to Kosciuszko National Park as they awaited police to close the road from the Link Road turnoff at Kiandra back to the park entry near Providence Portal.

With a foggy start entering the national park, the sky soon cleared for a spectacular welcome for the Lampson heavy haulage crew. The total convoy consisted of several police and pilot vehicles escorting three large low loader trucks.

The trucks made their way slowly around sharp bends, past burnt landscape and destroyed huts from January’s bushfires to the Link Road before disappearing towards the Lobs Hole location.

One of the largest pieces had a main prime mover plus a second prime mover in the rear, such was the load. Another consisted of a large ring piece, and the third item was a hydraulic platform trailer.

Lampson staff told Snowy Mountains Magazine this hydraulic platform trailer would have the large TBM piece craned onto it, then a prime mover at the rear would help take the load off the hydraulic machine as crew steer the platform by walking alongside for the slow and deliberate journey down the dirt road to Lobs Hole, over 12km.

On Tuesday, October 27, the heaviest load of 176 tonnes will be shipped. The full schedule of road movements can be found on the Future Generation Joint Venture website and drivers should be aware of rolling road closures and this section of Kosciuszko National Park closed at early morning times. Today’s closure at the Link Road for south bound traffic to Adaminaby reopened just after 9am. North bound traffic followed the last big truck.

As the convoy crew awaited the final road closure before entering the park, they were all in a good spirits and chatting about the cargo. Many had never been to this area before but this route will become familiar territory as they will be returning with multiple loads.

The TBMs have a cutting face diameter of 11 metres, are 137 metres long and as they bore and excavate the rock, the machine also places concrete segments to line the tunnel. These concrete segments will be made at the Cooma segment factory, currently under construction, and then shipped to lobs hole on low loaders.

To gain a further understanding of how they operate, Snowy Hydro have impressive explainer videos of how the tunnel boring machines work at both the Cooma Discovery Centre and the Talbingo display centre. At Cooma they also have a scale model, which can be seen in the latest edition of the Snowy Mountains Magazine (read online edition here).