THE demolition of Camperdown’s former Bonlac factory’s milk drying tower proved to be a major attraction for onlookers this week.
A steady stream of motorists took advantage of viewing points along Gnotuk Road and Bowen Street to view the work, while school kids took to their bikes to get a look.
The star of the show was undoubtedly a 45-tonne long reach excavator, fitted with sheers capable of cutting and lifting up to five tonnes of material.
Dwarfing three other standard-sized excavators being used to sort through the demolished material, the ‘long reach’ seemed surprisingly nimble – able to bend and manoeuvre to focus on particular targets with ease.
Starting off with the removal of the 60-metre high structure’s outer cladding, the demolition progressed in a highly co-ordinated and methodical manner.
Warrnambool-based contractor, Murrihy Demolitions is carrying out the work, which company director Brant Murrihy said was ahead of schedule.
“The first step was to remove the cladding and the purlins which the cladding was attached to,” he said.
“The long reach was then used to grasp on to individual floor levels and move them around, the idea being to break off all the internal welds and bolts.
“After that, it was a matter of working from the top of the tower and removing each part of the structure piece by piece.”
The demolition process kicked off over last weekend with the entire structure expected to be dismantled by late Wednesday.
Mr Murrihy said as much as 98 per cent of the demolished material would be recycled.
“The material includes stainless steel, heavy steel, copper and a small amount of aluminium,” he said.
“Most of the internal plant itself was made from stainless steel.
“Once brought down, the material is separated and sorted on the ground and then trucked down to Melbourne, where it is refined back into raw material.
“Everything is done with machines; there is no need for manual, hands-on work.”
Mr Murrihy said a concrete crusher was also on site and operated simultaneously with the demolition work.
“The concrete is all being crushed for reuse on the factory site as ‘fill’,” he said.
“We’ve had a pretty good run, only a few small break-downs, so we’re happy with the way things are progressing.”
The removal of the milk drying tower marked the end of Stage One of the factory’s demolition process.
Stage Two will get under way soon after and involve the removal of the factory’s iconic brick chimney stack.
The demolition works are part of Camperdown Dairy International’s plans for a complete factory rebuild on the site at a cost of $120 million.
Ultimately, Camperdown Dairy International intends to manufacture dried milk product at the site for export to Asian markets.