GGS Editor

This year's excursion for students and departmental staff from The University of Melbourne (UoM) was to New Charsfield apartments in St Kilda Rd, Melbourne, a project that comprises a 4-level basement car park, with 18 levels above ground.

Geotech is engaged as the specialist subcontractor by Hamilton Marino Builders for the design & construction of the retention works (D-wall and temporary ground anchors) and the main CFA foundation piles. On the day of the excursion the Stage 1 D-walls & anchoring were complete and the excavation had been advanced to approximately 6m below original ground level. From this level the students were able to observe the Stage 2 D-wall guide walls and panels under construction.

General Manager Nic Morgan's presentation to the students described the design complexities and geotechnical conditions of the site, and construction techniques required to undertake the works. Some of the D&C issues included:

  • Existing basements to adjoining sites
  • Permissible width of D-wall for spatial requirements of carpark
  • Groundwater levels and drainage of lower levels
  • Internal foundation piles: founding criteria, working platform and access for very large plant
  • Proximity to the heritage-listed mansion.

Nic was ably assisted by one of our recent graduate engineers in Daniel Popec (who had experienced our Balwyn excursion as a UoM undergraduate in 2015).

UoM was very happy with the excursion and received a lot of positive feedback from both students and colleagues alike.

Geotech's close association with UoM goes back some 30-odd years, the last decade of which has taken the form of annual excursions to various Geotech construction sites for students completing their "Geotechnical Engineering" subject. Recent excursions include field trips to Coventry Street Apartments in South Melbourne, Botanica Apartments in Balwyn, The Icon Apartments in St Kilda, the new Royal Children's Hospital in Parkville and the Moonee Ponds Central shopping centre (examples of basement works), and to the Royal Melbourne Hospital and Flemington Racecourse (tunnelling works).

We look forward to next year’s excursion, where students can make the connection between the 'theory' they learn in class and 'real world' practice.

Global infrastructure and renewable energy leader ACCIONA has made its first major investment in an Australian company with the acquisition of Victoria’s leading diversified civil engineering services business, Geotech Group.

The transaction significantly strengthens ACCIONA’s construction business in Australia, a key strategic market that is poised for very strong growth.

The investment will see the formation of a new company, ACCIONA Geotech Holding, bringing together ACCIONA’s future construction pipeline in Australia and New Zealand and the Geotech Group of companies. The new group will be majority owned by ACCIONA Infrastructure Asia Pacific and headquartered in Victoria.

ACCIONA has agreed to contribute three projects currently in the bidding phase, as well as an undertaking to channel future bids for civil engineering projects in Australia and New Zealand via ACCIONA Geotech Holding.

José Manuel Entrecanales, Chairman and CEO of ACCIONA, said: "The integration of Geotech marks a step change in ACCIONA's growth plans in Australia and South East Asia. The deal effectively doubles ACCIONA’s Australian offering, strongly positioning the combined group of over 1,000 employees for major transport infrastructure projects across the region."

"ACCIONA and Geotech have complementary technical and geographical strengths. The integration of our two companies will allow us to become a leading, diversified contractor in the Australia Pacific region with genuine Australian roots,"" Mr Entrecanales said.

ACCIONA Geotech Holding's financial strength and depth of in-house engineering expertise will make it a significant player in Australia’s transport infrastructure sector. The two companies in Australia are joining forces at a time when the country is seeing a quantum leap in the number, size and complexity of infrastructure projects. As a result, builders are having to step up their game.

ACCIONA, present in Australia since 2002, has global expertise in managing very large and complex infrastructure projects, such as the Legacy Way tunnels in Brisbane, which have won awards for innovation and sustainability. ACCIONA was looking for a partner with complementary strengths and deep roots in the Victoria and Australian market to accelerate its growth in Australia.

Geotech, for its part, had identified a need in the market for more sophisticated project management skills, and was seeking a partner to help meet those needs. Geotech has grown significantly in recent years, but further growth required another level of financial strength and experience in more complex projects.

ACCIONA and Geotech have worked together on a number of projects in Australia over the past four years and share a commitment to innovation and excellence in engineering. Both are family-run businesses that found additional common ground in their commitment to sustainability and community, and a long-term approach to value creation.

ACCIONA Geotech Holding will be a fully integrated engineering group with a holistic approach to project delivery, from designing infrastructure projects to comprehensive on-site delivery.

Geotech Group's Bede Noonan has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of ACCIONA Geotech Holding, while Garry Hounsell, ACCIONA’s Advisory Chairman in Australia and Asia, will serve as Chairman. Dieter Adamsas, Chairman of Geotech Group, has been appointed to the Board. As Managing Director of ACCIONA Infrastructure Asia Pacific, Fernando Fajarado will also be joining ACCIONA Geotech Holding’s board and will act as Deputy Managing Director of the new company.


ACCIONA is a global leader in sustainable solutions for infrastructure and renewable energy projects. Its expertise covers the entire value chain from research and development and design to the construction, operation and maintenance of projects. The Company is present in more than 30 countries, where its business activities seek to contribute to the economic and social progress of the communities in which it operates. ACCIONA aims to lead the transition to a low-carbon economy by investing in innovation and adopting processes and quality standards that optimise the use of resources and protect the environment in all its business activities. The Company posted revenues of €6.0 billion in 2016.

Present in Australia since 2002, ACCIONA has invested $680 million in its Australian operations and employs more than 500 people in its renewable energy, infrastructure and water projects across the country.

ACCIONA Energy has built and owns three wind farms in Australia, one through a joint venture, and has developed a strong pipeline of projects for construction. The wind farms at Waubra in Victoria, Gunning in New South Wales and Cathedral Rocks in South Australia produce 304.5MW of green energy, equivalent to the energy needs of 205,000 households. It will shortly begin construction of its fourth wind farm at Mount Gellibrand in Victoria. It also built and services the 20MW Royalla solar project near Canberra for a client. (ACCIONA Energy Australia is not part of the transaction and will continue to operate as an independent business within the ACCIONA group of companies.)

ACCIONA Infrastructure has completed the landmark Legacy Way tunnels in Brisbane and is involved in a number of transport projects across the country including the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing in Queensland, the Pacific Highway upgrade between Warrell Creek and Nambucca Heads, the 1.5 km long bridge over the Clarence River at Harwood, and the Sydney Light Rail project in New South Wales. It has several teams working on bids in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. In the water sector, ACCIONA Agua was part of the consortium that built and now operates the Adelaide Desalination Plant for SA Water, the Mundaring Water Treatment Plant near Perth. It is now is building water treatment plants on the Sunshine Coast and Tasmania.

After 18 days of occupation work on the Outer Harbor Line in Adelaide, Coleman Rail successfully handed back the new Port River Passenger Rail Bridge to the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI). During the occupation, Coleman Rail removed the entire bridge superstructure, repaired the top of the existing concrete piers, installed new bearing pads and restraint brackets and installed 20 new steel spans, each weighing more than 10t. The work was carried out using an innovative “lifting frame” that was mounted on two rail trolleys from the adjacent track. After the bridge was reinstalled, new continuously welded track was installed on the bridge and tied back into the existing track alignment. Said one of DPTI’s Signalling Commissioning Engineers: “Can you please pass on my thanks to your team? I travelled over the bridge several times today and it was a very smooth ride.” Overall the Coleman Rail team did a fantastic job under very trying conditions, including extreme weather, detailed scrutiny from the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulatory (ONRSR) and a high level of attention from our client DPTI.

Public Transport Victoria (PTV) and Metro Trains Melbourne (MTM) recently engaged Coleman Rail to perform the upgrades to two of Transdevs' operational bus depots located at Doncaster and North Fitzroy, with practical completion achieved in November of 2016. Coleman Rail was additionally tasked with addressing and closing out a number of environmental conditions at both sites.

The key upgrades that took place at both depots included the following:

  • Decommissioning and upgrading the existing diesel bus refuelling facilities – each depot typically uses 25,000L of diesel per night;
  • Decommissioning and upgrading the existing bus wash facilities – approximately 250 buses at the Doncaster depot and 170 buses at the North Fitzroy depot underwent cleaning several times a week;
  • Exhaust extraction upgrades to the depot maintenance workshop to assist with dispelling workshop exhaust fumes;
  • Concrete pavement remediation and replacement; and
  • Contamination remediation and making good underground wastewater infrastructure and drainage.

Through close management with the project's environmental consultants, Coleman Rail addressed all environmental conditions.

Damian Kerr (PTV Project Manager) provided the following feedback upon project completion:

"I would like to pass on PTV's and my own personal thanks for a job well done to Coleman Rail, MTM and Transdev. A large amount of work has been done in a short timeframe, and the collaboration between all parties has been outstanding. Certainly, our executive team and CEO have all expressed their delight in handing back both Doncaster and North Fitzroy three days earlier than planned."

ARUP, Coleman Rail's design consultant, recently undertook a site visit with their design team to get a better understanding of the completed project.

As an aside, here’s what the North Fitzroy Depot looked like in the 1940s!