Oct 25, 2007

Boring you all with my Tunnel Vision

Being the intrepid news hound that I am, I decided to clock on over an hour early today in order to take advantage of a media tour of the Greatest Infrastructure Project Of Our Time: the North-South Bypass Tunnel.

More specifically, to have a squiz at the biggest, most phallic piece of industrial machinery since Sex and the City's infamous "Rabbit" - the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM). This mighty, 4000-tonne, 256m long probe will soon be joined by its twin, and the pair will be thrust into the "Brisbane Tuff" rock that lies under the river, cutting a hole 12.4 metres in diameter and lining it as it goes. Power-burrowing at a rate of 20 metres per day, they should help get the tunnel be ready to go by 2010.

Did I mention they're the largest double-shield TBMs in the world? And that - in a twist of irony that will put your back out - they're referred to in the feminine, like ships? "She'll be right/She'll be ready", that sort of thing. I guess the blokes in charge might feel a bit weird if they sat atop that bad boy, Dr Strangelove-style, whooping and cheering as "he" plunged "his" giant mechanical wang into Mother Earth's crust.


So enough with the imagery; it's time for some imagery. Say hello to fearless Girl Clumsy, Reporter-at-Large:

Large being the operative word. Everyone else got a fitted orange vest with the construction company's logo neatly stitched onto the breast. The woman responsible for kitting us out took one look at me and slung me an XXL number with NO side fastening, no pockets, and NO logo. I looked like a freaking radioactive elephant. Pair that with the brand new yet two sizes too big Blundstone gumboots and I was truly a picture of grace and poise. "Clomp", I believe, is the most appropriate word. I swear to God construction people are running a conspiracy against me.

The photo doesn't really do it justice, does it? Let's go bigger:

Here's our Lord Mayor, "Can Do" Campbell Newman, former engineer and all round eager beaver when it comes to big machinery. He's receiving a briefing on the giant borer below.

Voila! The giant TBM from the front:

Look at this - the start of one of the tunnels, those golden, shimmering tunnels that are going to Save Brisbane from Traffic Hell. The long tubes are temporary ventilation pipes. The still camera cannot capture the breezy way they bounce, in a wave-form, as if they can't wait to breathe life into this new project. Gosh, that's a bit wanky, isn't it?

So that was my afternoon clomping around a major construction site. I'd do more of these photo essays if a) it wasn't such a pain in the ample arse uploading them to Blogger, and b) I had more frequent visits to interesting places. But wait! I am off to Melbourne tomorrow to perform in an improv festival. Huzzah! This shall surely provide photo fodder...


  1. Hi, What an impressive tunnel and you do not look like an elephant. I understand that you like radio therefore have a look at middleditch.blogspot and listen to quirky tales of village life. My friends have great fun recording the series.


  2. Have fun and good luck in Melby at the festival.

    What a cool place to get to see! We regularly drive past the mammoth structures near the bypass, marveling at their size, and I'm the kind of geek that likes to know how stuff is made.

    You have a very interesting job!

  3. Well for some reason I can't see the images (damn Chinese govt is blocking everything willy nilly these days), but what I imagined was possible even funnier.

    Great post none the less.


  4. Wow looking at the ventilation tube picture gave me the heeby jeebies! I have complete respect for the construction workers in that tunnel - I'd get claustrophobia in a minute. Cool pics.