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Composites give new life and safety to cyclone-ravaged wharf

Completed Cooktown commercial wharf uses composite materials to advantage

The new Cooktown commercial wharf – built with composites to last, minimise disturbance to natural habitats and withstand cyclones.

The redevelopment of the Cooktown waterfront in Far North Queensland highlights the benefits of composite materials for infrastructure in corrosive environments.

Queensland-based composite manufacturer Wagners Composite Fibre Technologies won the tender to replace the deteriorated wharf superstructure as part of a $4 million project to revitalise the town’s foreshore and its esplanade.

Wagners General Manager Engineering, Michael Kemp said the company was able to draw on experience with composites in civil infrastructure gained over the last 15 years and the proven strength and quality of its pull-wound pultrusion assemblies.

Quality control is assured through rigorous batch analysis for shear strength and modulus testing, tensile strength and modulus testing, compression strength and modulus testing plus completeness of cure.

“Composites were the preferred solution because of their proven performance in marine and corrosive environments and the fast construction we can achieve because of their light weight and ease of handling,” says Mr Kemp.

The wharf, used by large commercial fishing vessels and tour boats, required a superstructure capable of taking heavier loads including trucks and a crane,

Installation of the new Cooktown wharf superstructure

Fast, cost effective construction with minimal disturbance – a light crane lifts the wharf superstructure into place.

however the existing concrete piles were deemed sound.

“The design and the works also had to take into consideration standards for maritime structures, the close proximity to important natural habitats and the structure had to be cyclone rated,” said Mr Kemp.

The superstructure installation was divided into stages (bays) so there was no requirement for a barge or water-based crane. The timber superstructure was cut, lifted and moved and replaced by the pre-drilled and labelled lightweight composite components that were assembled on site and lifted into place by the local council’s forklift equipment. The new composite bay became the platform for the removal of the timber superstructure and installation of the next bay.

Composite handrails and light posts and fender piles completed the wharf.

Mr Kemp said working with local government required the building of long term relationships, a community focus, the ability to demonstrate value for money including the calculated whole of life costs (savings) and recognition of the distribution of risk and priority for resilient infrastructure.

Wagners drew on naval architect and structural engineers for design and engineering and engineering consultants for structural certification.

Footnote: The Cooktown Foreshore and Webber Esplanade Revitalisation project was funded by and is a joint project of the Queensland Government’s Royalties for the Regions program, Local Government Grants and Subsidies program, and Cook Shire Council.


Wagners Composite Fibre Technologies