Umow Lai helping upgrade Sydney’s iconic Ferry Wharves

Sydney’s population is set to top five million by 2017, making it the first city in Australia to reach the five million mark. With the ten largest growth areas identified as being in the Sydney metropolitan area, the pressure to provide adequate, reliable and efficient public transport is immense.For people choosing to commute via ferry around Sydney Harbour, the journey is now even more pleasurable, thanks to the completion of work on eight wharves. Major improvements to an additional 25 wharves are being undertaken as part of the New South Wales Government’s two-stage Ferry Wharves Upgrade programme.

Currently in progress, each of the designated wharves and their surrounding areas are benefitting from the upgrade. The renovations are adapted to suit the specific nature of each site through an iconic design theme prepared for each by the project architects.

For example, at Cremorne Point, the new wharf has a steel floating pontoon, covered concrete fixed entry platform and a covered aluminium gangway that connects the entry platform to the pontoon. It is an eye catching structure with a curved roof, glass panels and seating offering protection from the wind, rain and sun. The upgrade has also improved safety for ferry customers, provided greater accessibility making boarding and disembarking more efficient for all user groups.

One of the challenges faced by the project team at Meadowbank has been how to find ways to minimise the light spilling out into the areas surrounding the wharves and reflecting off the water and onto properties nearby.

As part of the services provided by Umow Lai, specific models were created detailing the lighting requirements for the uncovered and covered areas of the pontoon where commuters embark/disembark. They wanted to ensure that the levels were adequate and would not have a significant impact on neighbouring properties.

Another challenge faced was determining how best to carry out the work that involved reticulating the power and water to a wharf without disturbing the surrounding areas. At the Meadowbank wharf, this is further exacerbated by the fact that the wharf is being rebuilt next to an existing heritage seawall.

“The Sydney Wharves upgrade is a unique project for many reasons including the fact that the pontoons are designed for a lifecycle of 50 years,” says Peter Reedy, an electrical engineer and Umow Lai Senior Associate, working on the upgrades programme with colleagues Raj Jayasekera and Nalin Piyaratna

Umow Lai has provided their services to work on eight wharves, seven of which have been completed, and also compiled 28 concept design reports for other wharves.

As part of the upgrades, each wharf was designed in tranches and generally constructed one by one.  Drummoyne was the first to be constructed, followed by Balmain East, Olympic Park, Cremorne Point, Pyrmont, Drummoyne; Mosman and Meadowbank. Construction is underway at McMahons Point and at Cremorne Point. Future stages of the redevelopment will include the potential upgrade of many other wharves.

Umow Lai is a member of the project team that includes NSW Maritime, architects Conrad Gargett Ancher Mortlock Woolley and builders Hansen Yuncken.