Port of Townsville project to utilise nation’s largest backhoe dredge

Port of Townsville project to utilise nation’s largest backhoe dredge
Image courtesy of Hall Contracting.

Townsville is a step closer to welcoming ships up to 300 metres long with the arrival of Australia’s largest backhoe dredge, Woomera, at the Port of Townsville in Northern Queensland.

The $232 million Channel Upgrade is the largest infrastructure project in the Port’s 158-year history and is set to ensure trade, defence and cruise opportunities no longer bypass Townsville.

The project will double the width of the shipping channel from 92 metres to 180 metres at the inshore (Port) end, tapering to 120 metres at the seaward end.

Queensland-based company Hall Contracting will use Woomera to widen Townsville’s 14.9-kilometre shipping channels over the next two years.

The Woomera is a mechanical dredge which uses an excavator to dig compact material from the seabed.

It is a slower dredging method than alternatives but is expected to reduce the amount of seabed being disturbed at any one time, limiting the footprint of sediment plumes and associated environmental impact.

Spanning 65 metres in length, Woomera was designed in the Netherlands and can dredge depths of up to 26 metres.

All material removed during capital dredging will be brought to land for beneficial reuse in a 62-hectare reclamation area bounded by a rock wall, which was completed by Hall Contracting in 2021.

Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Mark Bailey said the arrival of the Woomera marked a significant milestone for the project.

“I’m pleased to see Woomera now arrive at the port, to begin the dredging required to set the Port of Townsville up for a booming future,” he said.

“With the widening of the channel comes more opportunities for the Port, for Townsville and for Queensland, creating jobs and boosting the economy at a time when it’s needed most.”

The project has already so far supported around 1400 jobs, with the dredging contract supporting more than 70 full-time employees, including trainees who are up-skilling and re-skilling.

Channel widening is expected to take two years.

The Townsville Port Channel Upgrade is a $232 million joint project of the Australian and Queensland Governments, and the Port of Townsville Limited.

For more information on the project, click here.



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