Opera House of the Outback

Opera House of the Outback an article by John Andersen in the Townsville Bulletin.

THE ground moves at Winton so much so that the town's new Waltz­ing Matilda Centre is being built on suspended slabs of concrete. The inland's notorious cracking clay soils that make the construction of bitumen roads across the rolling, open downs' country such a chal­lenge are also presenting a similar set of challenges to Townsville builder Adrian Gabrielli.

Mr Gabrielli, of local construc­tion firm A. Gabrielli Constructions Pty Ltd, is building the new $22 million architect-designed Waltzing Matilda Centre that will showcase exhibits and displays immortalising the song penned by Banjo Paterson at Winton's Dagworth Station in 1895. The new building will replace the old cement block Waltzing Matilda Centre destroyed by fire on June 18, 2015. Mr Gabrielli said the walls were taking shape and the roof should be finished by the end of this month.

"This is Like building the Opera House in the Outback. This is a technically difficult job. There's not a straight wall anywhere, but we are up for it. We are using all the latest technology," he said.
Site manager Richard Gabrielli said the internal concrete slabs were on track to be finished by the end of the month. "We are used to compacting ground We've never worked with ground Like this before," he said.  Richard said the concrete build­ing was suspended over 330 "screw piers" driven Sm into the ground by a 30-tonne excavator.  These screw piers are holding the 3120 tonnes of concrete used in the building in suspension. He said the shotcreting of the outside walls should also be finished by end of the month. He said the sprayed concrete walls were de­signed to have an earthen mud look and would be studded with opal boulders to give the realistic appear­ance of an underground opal mine. Hot weather is another issue for the staff on site. It is already 40C­plus and even hotterfor those work­ing the interior of the building. Richard said four large evaporat­ive coolers had been brought in to cool down the interior building. "And there is plenty of ice on site. It's too hard to work if you are un­comfortable," he said. 

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