A landmark within Sydney Harbour, Birkenhead Point Marina in Drummoyne is the largest privately owned floating marina on Sydney Harbour comprising 187 berths. Just 10 minutes by road or water to the Sydney CBD and an easy 30 minutes cruising to Sydney Heads, it is unique in its location adjoining a shopping centre, just off Victoria Road, one of the busiest arterial roads in New South Wales.
Superior Jetties secured the job of refurbishing the marina and boardwalk at this historic site. The shopping centre occupies what was originally a brickworks and factory, which over the years was used as a racecourse, salting works and eventually, home to the Dunlop Rubber Company.
“The first challenge was uniting the old with the new and creating something that would bridge the gap between historic centre and contemporary marina to a high commercial standard,” says Luke Tapfer, Project Manager for Superior.
The Birkenhead Point Marina is significant for a number of firsts. “It was the first big SuperElite™ full structural walled marina system and the first installation of the EDGE™ II handrail system. Structurally, we were lucky our job was limited to the on-water section, where we could employ the latest designs in floating structures, not working with foundations or structures that are well over 100 years old.”
The brief for the project was to install 165 SuperElite™, five- sided concrete pontoons including a massive 66-metre long by 6-metre wide fuel wharf.
“There were also five new powder-coated gates, four new, 9-metre long fuel shelters, three new gangways, all new aluminium pile brackets/knee brackets, removal of old pontoons and connection of old to new in some locations, a 14-metre by 10-meter floating shop integrated into the marina, and finally, 367 linear metres of the new product EDGE™ II handrail,” Luke explains.
“Working closely with the client to achieve all goals that were required, we custom designed and constructed the project from start to finish with our in house design team.”
The first task was to accommodate the various challenges of the site, such as limited access for cranes and trucks as the loading zone is busy all week with deliveries for tenants within the shopping precinct. “This was overcome by working with tenants to secure access of a Wednesday for our cranes and trucks and providing specialised lifting gear at both the manufacturing facility as well as the drop off point.”
Tides too came in to play. “The large fuel docks had to be lifted in at high tide as they weighed a whopping 12 tonnes each.”
Superior used its five-sided structural wall SuperElite™ concrete pontoons with afull 50mm concrete cover over galvanised mesh on all surfaces to achieve a new standard in concrete marina construction in Australia.
The SuperElite™ is a heavy duty concrete system that uses concrete pontoon walls with timber or aluminium walers and is ideally suited to large scale commercial marinas up to megayacht size.
One of the most visible facets of the project is the eye-catching new handrail installed around the marina’s boardwalk.
“We had a total new design for the handrail system using our design registered EDGE II handrails, the ‘designer’ version of the EDGE™ handrail, with curved posts and eight pipe rails for great aesthetic impact.”
Curved and smooth for both ergonomic and visual appeal, the EDGE™ II is made of medium density polyethylene with many brilliant features that elevate above standard steel or aluminium construction.
Standing 1.0m tall, it meets Australian and New Zealand standards (AS1657) and each section can be installed in minutes. The stanchion inserts are sized to accept aluminium pipe sizes as standard, with options in powder coated steel or stainless steel pipes. The kit comes complete with end caps to seal out any water or debris from building up inside the product. The stanchion has been through a rigorous R&D development program including a FEA analysis.
Designed and made on the Gold Coast using Australian raw materials, the rotomoulded posts are lighter, durable and quicker to install than traditional aluminium, steel or stainless steel equivalents.
“EDGE™ II is competitively priced and the speed of installation means the total price is significantly reduced,” adds Superior Group CEO, John Hogan. “We see endless possibilities for EDGE™ and are already manufacturing it for clients in the marina, mining and construction industries.”
EDGE™ II can be custom-designed and colour-matched to suit any commercial or industrial project, is UV resistant and will not corrode. Best of all, EDGE™ rails are fully recyclable.
The EDGE™ system started with floating handrails that used an overlapping offset of the handrail end caps, allowing the product to flex when used on floating surfaces. The offset endcaps eliminate pinch points and give a safe soft end. Edge II now transfers this success to land based structures as well.
“For a marine environment like Birkenhead Point Marina, EDGE™ II provides greater resistance to fuel and acidic conditions than other forms of handrails. It offers very open viewing through the rail so as not to obstruct the views, while providing optimal safety.
“The stanchions are made of Superior’s rotomoulded polyethylene using a 711 Quenos masterbatch which is totally produced in Australia. It is weather resistant to the harsh environment with a UV 11 rating, 316 grade stainless steel fixings and marine-grade aluminium rails that will stand up to any conditions.”
David Mann, Project Development at Birkenhead Point, says the project was a smooth and uncomplicated process, thanks to considerable pre-planning and a solid working relationship between Superior and Birkenhead Point Marina.
“Superior won the contract based following a competitive tender. On all criteria, Superior outperformed the other companies and carried out works in a transparent and professional manner.”
The site is unique, explains Mann, and with that came a raft of unique challenges. “Integrating the new with the heritage listed flavour of Birkenhead was our aim. Using the EDGE II and brand new technology meant that Superior achieved this to meet aesthetic and safety objectives.”
Phil McGowen, Marina Manager says the overhaul has revived the marina and will benefit boaties and visiting superyachts in a multitude of ways.
“Our marina is part of a full-service shopping centre, meaning crews and boaties can take care of all their provisions right here. The refurbishment and realignment of the marina enhance the precinct, as well as adding a significant number of berths and vital infrastructure.”
The modifications to the marina affected around 100 berths, adding 14 new Superyacht berths up to 40m to cater to the top end of the market. “We have berths for boats from 8m to 40m, and have created an onsite floating marina management office next to the fuel dock. Our aim is to attain 5 Gold Anchor status in 2015.”
Feedback from the Birkenhead Point tenants, visitors and boaties has been unanimously positive.
“You wouldn’t think people would be impressed by something that needs to be purely functional, but everybody comments on the EDGE™ handrails,” states Luke. “Boaties say they love the new pontoons and really notice the difference.”
With its high-tech rotomoulding machines that can handle large items to 3m in length, Superior Group can design and manufacture any large, hollow plastic item to any brief.