For the people of King Island in the Bass Strait, travelling is a part of doing business, so the arrival of COVID-19 and the subsequent travel limitations provided a unique challenge.

As the local population started to get accustomed to doing more business online, the network coverage on the island struggled to keep up and a rapid upgrade was required.

To get the island up to speed, Ventia was engaged by Telstra to replace an existing 30-metre tower with an upgraded 45-metre lattice tower on Counsel Hill, a summit on the north-east coast of the island.

Building a tower on an island has its own set of challenges but as COVID-19 shifted ways of working and prompted border closures, our team was required to adapt in order to meet the schedule for the build. Ventia engaged a Tasmanian based civil and electrical contractor for parts of the build however there were no rigging crews available from Tasmania and so a Victorian crew was engaged to complete the build and ICIO component.

As the situation with the pandemic around the country changed and borders closed, the team needed to find a way for the Victorian crew to be able to work on King Island and meet the build schedule.

King Island worksite

Creating solutions using a 'builder bubble'

After working with the Tasmanian Government, Ventia received permission to fly a crew to King Island and isolate them on a farm stay property close to the worksite.

This formation of a 'bubble' meant the crew were required to be COVID19 tested on day one, four and 11 before entering the local community. All supplies including food were delivered to the property via a contactless method, with strong planning in place to create a safe experience.

The challenges didn't stop once the team were out of isolation, when working onsite, the Victoria team wore face masks at all times and followed a strict COVID-19 plan. Additionally, the Victorian and Tasmanian crews were separated as much as possible.

Harnessing the power of collaboration

According to Project Director Evan Hennie, the team responded to the challenges with absolute professionalism. "We were extremely lucky to have Andrew Purdon as the Site Field Manager overseeing this project," he said.

As Andrew is based in Tasmania, he was able to directly engage with the local community to arrange deliveries of materials, crane hires and oversee logistics. Through Andrew's successful planning, we shipped a 100-tonne crane from Tasmania on barge from Stanley, erected the tower in two days and ensured most of the team were off King Island in the shortest time possible.

The project was a great example of teams coming together to overcome a challenge and deliver positive outcomes for the client to keep our communities connected.

King Island aerial