The first edition of this book covered the roles of engineers in the development of Australia’s National Capital from 1820, when white people first sighted the Limestone Plains, to 1983.

But in 1983, the new Parliament House and associated roads and bridges had hardly been started. They are now complete and it is timely to add chapters on this work. While the ideal would have been to update each of the 12 chapters from the first edition to incorporate developments over the past seven years, that is not practical at this time from a publishing viewpoint. Therefore, we take time in this preface to record significant developments in the areas covered by the first edition.

Work has continued on further major components of the ACT’s peripheral parkway system. A detailed traffic study in 1984 confirmed the proposal in the original Y Plan to construct the Eastern Parkway. Design commenced in 1986 and construction began in 1988 with progressive completion intended over three years. The primary purpose of the Eastern Parkway is to link the rapidly developing southern and eastern suburbs of Tuggeranong to the city centre, and in the longer term to provide a north-south bypass to central Canberra on the eastern side.

Community demands now require planning to include parking space to support office and retail developments. Consequently, multi-storey and extra surface carparks have been constructed in Civic, and parking controls over on- street parking in adjacent residential areas have been extended.

It is still accepted that there needs to be a much larger population before anew mode of public transport (e.g. light rail) is justifiable. In the meantime, studies are continuing on appropriate alignments for such a system, and the bus fleet has increased 34 per cent in the past six years.

Since 1983 we have seen the introduction and subsequent withdrawal of an XPT train service from Goulburn to Canberra. It was operated on the substandard old alignment with substandard signalling systems. The proposed new alignment from Gunning to Canberra has been deferred, pending a decision on the proposed Very Fast Train, which would provide a one-hour travel time between Sydney and Canberra and two hours between Canberra and Melbourne. Large sums have been spent on feasibility studies for the VFT by leading Australian and Japanese interests.

While no further city water supply dams have been built since 1983, the lake alongside Tuggeranong town centre has been completed.

In the chapter on water the importance of regional control of the quality of water in the total river, lake, dam and stormwater system is stressed. Work in this area has continued with the adoption and implementation of an ACT water quality policy plan, backed by the community’s increasing support for environmental work.

The drought of 1983 highlighted the need to revise the safe yield of the region’s water supply dams. Based on a new safe yield of 115 gigalitres per annum, the capability of our water catchment, in drought conditions, has been reduced by 50,000 to a maximum population of 400,000.

In 1985 the Bureau of Meteorology revised the basis for estimating the probable maximum rainfall for short periods and small areas, and this significantly increases the estimated probable maximum flood for Canberra’s major dams. Substantial upgrading of dam spillway capacities is required and priority has been given to upgrading Googong Dam, because of its location above Queanbeyan and Canberra.

Restoration of the original “Pelton” wheel and pump from the Cotter Pump Station has been undertaken, with a view to it being placed on public display at the Pump Station.

The peak electrical power demand increased from 475 megawatts in 1983 to 550 in 1989. Over the same period the electrical energy usage increased from 1600 gigawatt hours to 2000.

It was fitting that Mr H.A. Jones, first Chairman of ACTEA and author of Chapter Six of this book, should switch off the Kingston Zone Substation for the last time in April 1987. This substation has served Canberra since the 1920s, being the only source of supply until 1961.

The load from this substation has been taken over by the new Telopea Park Zone Substation. It is fed from the Causeway Switching Station by the first 132 kV underground cables laid in Canberra, leaving the lakeshore clear of major overhead lines.

The 1990 erection of a line between Gilmore and the Causeway will complete a 132 kV ring around old Canberra and Woden Valley, securing the electricity supply to the heart of Canberra into the next century.

Public lighting in the past seven years has seen the general use of high pressure sodium lamps for major traffic roads and low pressure sodium lamps for minor streets. The use of slip base columns, introduced in 1981, has proved a successful safety measure and has been supplemented with the use of impact absorbing columns.

Since 1981, the Australian Gas Light Company’s medium pressure residential mains gas reticulation system has been extended to a total of 2,000 kilometres, accessing 70,000 homes and connecting 23,000 customers. This means that 70 per cent of all houses in Canberra have access to natural gas. The secondary H.P. system has been extended to total 158 kilometres to date, connecting some 44 local districts and serving 460 commercial/industrial customers.

There has been a revolution in communications engineering since the first edition of this book. The technique of information transfer has moved from the time-honoured analogue method to a digitally-coded process. The introduction of optical fibre cable has augmented the revolution, with the enormous carrying capacity of this type of cable altering the shape of the communications network in a few short years. An optical fibre cable linking Canberra with Sydney and Melbourne was introduced in 1987. The use of digital techniques has permitted the installation of processor controlled exchanges, where the network is sufficiently flexible to switch any communications link from voice to data.

Since 1983 the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) has been built and has taken over from the Royal Military College Duntroon by providing undergraduate engineering education, not only for Army personnel but also for all sections of the armed forces.

Other recent developments include the commencement of full undergraduate engineering courses at the Canberra College of Advanced Education (CCAE) and a broadlybased course at the Australian National University (ANU). Enquiries into engineering education in Australia support Canberra Division’s continuing campaign for a full engineering school in the ACT. Although proposals for amalgamation of the ANU and CCAE have been abandoned, the ANU and the University of Canberra (previously CCAE) together with ADFA and The ACT Institute of Technical & Further Education have formed an ACT School of Engineering, which will move towards the adequate and rational provision of undergraduate engineering education in the ACT.

While we still await a modern dual carriageway parkway for the short distance from the airport to the Parliamentary Triangle, our airport building has finally been upgraded to a standard more appropriate for our National Capital. On 22 April 1988 the then Minister for Aviation opened a two-storey Canberra Airport complex, which had cost some $10.8 million.

As this second edition goes to print, engineers are starting to install one of the first of the new microwave landing systems at Canberra Airport. Australia was instrumental in developing the concept which underlies this system and which has been accepted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation as the future standard all-weather guidance system for precision approach and landing of aircraft throughout the world.

The space-tracking stations at Honeysuckle Creek and Orroral Valley were closed by the end of 1984, with NASA’s facilities consolidated at Tidbinbilla when the communications switching centre at Deakin was transferred there in 1985.

Upgrading of the Tidbinbilla complex included transferring the 26 metre antenna from Honeysuckle Creek and adding a second 34 metre antenna. Major modifications were made to the electronic systems in 1984/85 and in 1987 the 64 metre antenna was extended to 70 metres, to provide improved performance at outer planetary distances. In 1986/87 the external communications circuits were upgraded to provide a 2048kb/s fibre optics link between the complex and the OTC terminal in Sydney.

While the space shuttle Challenger disaster in January 1986 halted that side of Tidbinbilla’s work, the complex continued to provide support to the ongoing programs including Voyager 2 encounters with Uranus and Neptune. Additionally, the European spacecraft Gioto was tracked during its rendezvous with Halley’s Comet in early 1986. With the resumption of shuttle flights in 1988, Tidbinbilla has, from 1989, tracked Magellan and Galileo, enroute to Venus and Jupiter respectively. Magellan was NASA’s first planetary probe in 11 years.

In this preface we have touched briefly on some of the developments in the ACT since 1983. Of course there are the two additional chapters 13 and 14 but otherwise the book is reprinted with minor corrections. By the year 2000 we may see a VFT operating, dual carriageways completed between Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and Cooma, and other major engineering progress made: this could be the time to consider a third edition.

In the meantime, we acknowledge with gratitude the contributions made to this preface by: Robert Care, Walter Shellshear, Ian Cooper, David Philp, John Kain, Paul Clark, Paul Yonge, Cyril Streatfield, Tom Reid and Bill Minty.

Finally we acknowledge the work of Alison Foulsham as editorial consultant for the new material in this edition.

L.J. Wrigley BMechE, MIE Aust.
Chairman, Heritage Panel
Canberra Division
The Institution of Engineers, Australia
January 1990

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