Power: Mount Bellenden Ker
Mount Bellenden Ker, Far North Queensland
Broadcast Australia
May 2015 - September 2015
Contract Type:
Construct Only

When lightning struck and damaged one of the transmission lines critical for operation of Broadcast Australia’s radio and communications tower in Far North Queensland, Zinfra responded to the crisis and mobilised a team to the remote location in just five days.

Wet tropical conditions, rugged terrain, no road access and working within a World Heritage Listed area meant this project was loaded with logistical challenges. Zinfra took up the challenge to inspect and refurbish Broadcast Australia’s 22kV overhead network, and delivered this labour intensive project with an excellent safety and environmental record.

The works took four months and involved the replacement of six kilometres of conductor across 11 transmission towers.

Located 60 kilometres south of Cairns, the broadcasting transmission tower is at the top of Mount Bellenden Ker, the second highest peak in Queensland at 1,593 metres above sea level. Not only is the site remote, the rain gauge at its summit records an annual average rainfall of 8,312 mm, making it the wettest meteorological station in Australia.

Broadcast Australia owns and operates one of the most extensive terrestrial broadcast transmission networks in the world. They manage transmission services for radio and television broadcasters (analogue and digital) and offer site sharing, co-hosting and infrastructure services to the telecommunications, emergency services and broadcasting industries. The broadcasting facility at the top of Mt Bellenden Ker receives power via an existing overhead high voltage (HV) transmission line. The overhead line is located on the eastern face of the mountain, running from the Ergon Energy HV network connection point at the bottom station to the transmission facility located at the top station

The 22kV HV transmission line is approximately six kilometres in length and consists of overhead conductors supported on a series of steel H-frame towers. The line consists of the original conductors and insulators, installed in the early 1970s, but the support towers were replaced in 1997 due to heavy corrosion. The facilities at the summit are serviced by a privately owned cable car, which runs almost parallel with the 22kV line and/or via a walking track.


Structure refurbishment

Given the tropical and wet conditions at Mount Bellenden Ker, the transmission line is vulnerable to the effects of the environment and accelerated decay. Broadcast Australia required inspection of the tower structures to establish trends in structural decay and to determine the extent of structural upgrade required. Zinfra was engaged to inspect the upper part of each tower within four metres of the insulator attachment height.

Replacement of structural pins, bolts, corroded items and the installation of corrosion control measures made up this portion of the works

Re-conductoring of existing overhead structures

Zinfra undertook refurbishment, replacement, installation and testing of the conductors, surge arrestors and insulators on the H frame towers. In addition, Zinfra supplied and installed a new earthing system to each structure tower


Access, or lack thereof

The broadcasting facility is located about 60 km south of Cairns, on top of a mountain, in the remote reaches of Far North Queensland. Once on the mountain, access to the towers is only via the private cable car and by foot through dense rainforest. The crew was required to carry in all their tools, equipment and supplies to complete the job.

Rain, rain and more rain

Wild weather was a hallmark of this project. Wind, rain and poor visibility made this work particularly difficult and excluded the use of helicopters for conductor stringing.


Excellent safety record

Zinfra delivered the project with an exemplary safety record - no MTI, LTI or environmental incidents occurred.

Outage windows

Minimising disruption to all Broadcast Australia customer services was a priority, so Zinfra was required to undertake some of the works in limited five hour windows. Planning, resourcing and timing were critical factors to deliver under these circumstances, and Zinfra met every deadline and outage window.