Werris Creek Aboriginal Groovings

Werris Creek, NSW

When we got the phone call asking if we could look at a job in Werris Creek, that would entail detaching sections of rock from the bedrock below, isolating and detaching floaters from surrounding soil and removing to a place of safety, I thought they were joking.

The rocks had Aboriginal groovings on them that were ancient, were of significant Aboriginal heritage importance and could not be damaged in any way. Difficult task when the rock had a crust on it, was on top of a hill in the middle of nowhere, no water, no shade and big Eastern Brown snakes in abundance.

Equipment Used

  • Darda splitters
  • Hydraulic core drill (48mm core 650mm long)
  • Hydraulic hand saw (400mm diamond blade)
  • Darda HCS6 Combi-Shears
  • Hydraulic packs for splitters & tools
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What happened

Nothing like this had ever been done before, no one in Australia had ever been allowed to move ANYTHING that was of significant Aboriginal heritage, no one had ever detached a section of rock that was crusty and move it safely. When we went to survey it and saw the difficulty in what was being asked, we told the owner of Werris Creek Coal that it would be fairly costly, his reply was, "It will not cost as much as the millions of tons of coal below it!!!". He had a good point.

An archeologist was on site daily, as was a member of the local Aboriginal community, so we were well informed regularly on how to do the job. Our first task was to isolate each of the 12 rocks in preparation for our work, set up water tanks for equipment, some shade and cut the tall grass down a bit, no one wanted to surprise, or be surprised by any visiting snake.

After isolating, we stitch drilled using the 48mm cores on the biggest section, carefully split it, then drilled another couple of holes to put 50mm rebar through to lift it.

Other rocks just had to be split and detached, or we used high pressure water to undercut a few that were floaters.

While there, the powder monkey's did a bad shot and some huge boulders that even a pair of Cat D10's could not push, had to be split into smaller sections, overall, it was not the easiest of projects but highly rewarding when completed successfully.

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