Newcastle Memorial Walk wins award for engineering excellence

WALK THIS WAY: Rhianna Drinkall and Monique Calais, right, enjoying the award-winning Memorial Walk on Thursday. Picture: Marina Neil

WALK THIS WAY: Rhianna Drinkall and Monique Calais, right, enjoying the award-winning Memorial Walk on Thursday. Picture: Marina Neil

NEWCASTLE’S spectacular Memorial Walk has been recognised as one of the best engineered projects in Australia at an annual industry awards night.

The 450-metre cliff-top steel walkway took home one of six awards for engineering excellence at the Engineers Australia awards ceremony held in Brisbane on Wednesday evening.

The popular tourist attraction, which links Strzelecki Lookout to Bar Beach, had earlier scooped the industry body’s best project in the Newcastle division.

Charlestown engineer Neil Petherbridge, the principal engineer of Northrop Consulting Engineers, said the honour was a major coup for his firm

It is the first national award Northrop Consulting Engineers has won.

“It’s a very nice feeling,” Mr Petherbridge told the Newcastle Herald on Thursday.

“We went with no expectations, so we were pretty pleased to come away with this.”

Mr Petherbridge said the award recognised the challenging environment where construction took place.

Chief among the engineering difficulties were how to build a 64-tonne walkway where site access is extremely limited.

The centrepiece of the walk is the 160-metre long suspended footbridge, which adorns the silhouettes of steel soldiers inscribed with the names of nearly 4000 Hunter WWI servicemen and women.

“There is pretty much no access at all,” Mr Petherbridge said. “We had to precast all the columns, bolt them down and the individual segments needed to be lifted in. Everyone worked really closely together – it was a collaborative effort to make it work.”

The Memorial Walk was mostly built off-site and lifted into place. Picture: Marina Neil

The Memorial Walk was mostly built off-site and lifted into place. Picture: Marina Neil

The project was nearly five years in planning and construction before it officially opened on April 24, 2015, to commemorate the centenary of Anzac.

Rhianna Drinkall, 22, and Monique Calais, 21, who were at the walkway on Thursday from Cooranbong, said it offered unrivalled views of the coast.

“I like that it has a purpose – it’s pretty – but also the fact it commemorates the Anzac legend is really special,” Miss Calais said. 

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