Wolgan Valley Update

Posted: 16 November, 2017

UPDATE 11 - 16/11/17

The Wolgan Campus has been handed over from the builder to the School with an Occupation Certificate granted by Lithgow Council granted at the end of October.

Already we have had twelve staff undertake a residential remote first aid training course on site. These staff members were a mix of staff attending the CITF programmes as well as others leading the upcoming Year 7 camp. All of them are now very excited about the opportunities for teaching and learning on this new campus. Next week the first of three Year 7 groups will be undertaking overnight camps as they explore elements of Social Science, History and Geography.

The camping pads have been seeded and recent rains in the valley supplemented by watering has seen the seed sprouting. The Year 7s and supervising teachers will be setting up their tents on a nearby low rise overseeing the buildings on this first camp so the camping pads can complete their establishment.

The last of the furniture and cabinetry was installed this week while equipment for the kitchen and site operations have been unpacked and sorted ready for use.

Preliminary planning and discussions with Heads of Departments regarding further excursions and activities on the site are also being undertaken for the 2018 calendar of events.

UPDATE 10 - 24/10/17

We are excited to soon receive the keys to our Wolgan Valley campus! Many months of construction work on the first roads and buildings is nearing completion. Staff quarters and a kitchen have been erected and other essential infrastructure has been laid. We will soon be in a position to host Cranbrook students for extraordinarily unique experiential learning experiences.

To this end, Year 7 students will be our first students have the opportunity to take part in our first academic program at Wolgan Valley later this term. This two-day program includes an MYP inter-disciplinary unit (Science, Geography and History) and is designed to forge positive and enduring relationships between the students themselves, and their environment.

The boys will be staying in spacious, stand-up tents and sleeping on very comfortable stretchers. One of these tents has been on display outside the Governor’s Ballroom this week so the boys see just how comfortable they really are! The Year 7 boys are eagerly anticipating this first Wolgan Valley experience. 

UPDATE 9 - 31/08/17

The excitement is building as the project is getting closer to completion. You will note the scaffold has been removed from the chimneys as they are now fully rendered. The timber wall lining and flooring is continuing to be fixed in place connecting to the door frames.

Three big rolls of power cable have been brought to site to connect us to the grid, along with a large number of pallets of pavers to be used to form the crescent path that links the buildings.

Camping pads are being formed following the trenching of external power and lighting.

The school has also confirmed the tents to be used on site. They are a waterproof cotton canvas bell tent. These tents are 4.5m dia and will comfortably accommodate up to six students on stretchers. They have a heavy-duty floor while the low walls have an integrated fly mesh allowing the skirting to be rolled up for ventilation.

UPDATE 8 - 17/08/17

The builders are pushing on with the Wolgan campus. You can see the temporary props have been removed and the veranda posts are installed. The timber soffit lining to the veranda is also being fixed to the frames. Wall linings are up in the hall and progress is being made in the accommodation building. You can get a real sense of the aspect from the building through the windows to the escarpment and from the veranda over the bowl of our part of the Valley. Meanwhile the doors are arriving on site this week.

Last week over 2.8km of conduit arrived on site to bring power in from the front gate and this has now been laid along the trench line ahead of the cable being laid. The shed for the water treatment plant is being constructed alongside two water tanks and the LPG tank.

Over in the kitchen, the ceiling exhausts and filter boxes are in place, and the walls are sheeted. The insulated panel walls for the cool-room and freezer are ready for installation.

The base for the Pizza ovens is constructed and scaffold is up for the chimney.

UPDATE 7 - 3/08/17

The works at Wolgan Valley are progressing well. The timber for the floors, decks and veranda posts have arrived on site along with the timber edging for the camping pads and crescent path. The internal walls are in place and plumbing and wiring is being fixed-off ahead of wall sheeting.

The kitchen building is taking shape with the exhaust system being hung in the roof and the services roughed-in. The exit of the exhaust will be up a chimney which will be constructed adjacent to the building. This will resemble the chimneys that have been constructed for the hall and accommodation building.

The base of another chimney housing the pizza ovens has also been constructed and nearby to this we are going to construct a long table. The long table will be almost 35m long so all on site can share a meal together as it will also link the kitchen building to the chimney housing the pizza ovens.

Chimneys and ovens are a feature of the valley’s history that Andrew Burns Architects have integrated into the design of the campus. The TripAdvisor photo of the remnant chimney of the old Public School in the ruins of the old township of Newnes and the National Parks photo of the coking ovens for extracting the shale-oil from the nearby mines can still be found in the Wollemi National Park.

UPDATE 6 - 20/07/17

Works at Wolgan have continued over the holidays. We are now about half-way through construction at the new campus. The new driveway is settling in nicely as the buildings are just over two kilometres from the front gate.

The roof sheeting has been installed along with windows and internal electrical works are well underway. Water treatment and wastewater management systems have been delivered to site and are in the process of installation along with some of the larger equipment for the kitchen.

A strip footing is being formed along back sections of the crescent near the kitchen building to enable a School project in the future to construct a rammed earth wall. This will become the entrance into the crescent as you walk into the site from the front gate into an area for an outdoor long-table.

UPDATE 5 - 22/06/17

Works are continuing to move ahead at the Wolgan Valley Campus. Since our last update, the structural steel has been delivered and installed while the fit-out of the accommodation and hall has begun. The frames and trusses for the kitchen building have arrived on site, and Elgas have delivered and installed the LPG gas tank. The wastewater treatment plant has been marked out with the system being delivered tomorrow. Soon we’ll also see the chimney for the pizza ovens being built.

A feature of the site is the placing of the buildings on a large crescent path that relates to the site being wrapped by the surrounding escarpments. This path and gravel space will be the link of the structures and camping pads and be an extension of the verandas to the buildings that face it.

Meanwhile the plans and site maps of Wolgan have also been given to graphic artists to see how these can be incorporated into graphic elements within parts of the Senior School Building refurbishment here at the Senior School Campus.

UPDATE 4 - 25/05/17

Construction of the School’s Wolgan Campus is proceeding at a fast pace with major civil works complete and the site’s 2.5km “driveway” formed and in use. The project is really coming out of the ground now with all the services laid and the concrete slabs for our buildings being poured. We even have frames going up on the slab of the refuge hall building. The next big delivery to the site is the water tanks, which are arriving next week.
Even our most recent visitors, the Year 9 boys who were on site for CITF at the end of last term, will be impressed with the progress that has been made.
The buildings have been carefully designed to acknowledge rural construction with a respectful use of timbers and galvanised metal as well as the prominence of masonry chimneys that also refer in part to the shale-oil kilns of the nearby ruins of Newnes. The chimneys do have a modern twist with an integrated hot water system and one will be constructed specifically to house a pizza oven.
This is an exciting project that opens new horizons for the School.

UPDATE 3 - 04/05/17

The Headmaster is delighted to be able to share with you the latest news from our Wolgan Valley campus.  The first phase of development is now well underway: this will give us essential infrastructure, including a road, and core educational facilities including staff accommodation, dining areas, a bad weather shelter and teaching rooms.

We will, therefore, be in a position to begin to use the campus as an experiential classroom: colleagues on the academic front are excited by the prospect of designing residential programmes which will both complement our curriculum and be balanced by a graduated sequence of experiential activities.  We are, through our Masterplan, working to ensure that we make the most of the educational opportunities available to us at our remarkable location in Bellevue Hill: Wolgan Valley offers a beautiful and rural counterpoint to our urban setting and we are keen to explore opportunities to build resilience, reflection and appreciation of natural beauty through first rate teaching at our new campus.  We do not intend to imitate other schools and are well aware of the fact that some families choose Cranbrook because they do not wish to send their children away from Sydney for prolonged periods: It may well be, that, in time, a sustained residential option will emerge, but in the medium term our concentration will be upon the design and delivery of first rate short term courses.

Use of the facility was seen in this year’s Year 9 CITF, the boys engaged in an exciting Visual Art activity in which each student engaged to create a fascinating print inspired by the area around them, using an art technique called Intaglio Etching.

UPDATE 2 - 02/04/17

Recently our Headmaster visited the new facility being constructed at our Wolgan Valley property. Great progress is being made in constructing our 2.5km driveway and the shaping of a large crescent that will address the buildings on the site and compliment the surrounding escarpments. The design by Andrew Burns Architects draws elements from classical Australian rural architecture as well as local influences of the shale mining ovens at Newnes. The project is being managed by PDS Group and construction by regional builders, Hines Construction. Company Director, David Hines, is pleased to have been awarded the contract to construct the facility as his brother was a teacher at Cranbrook Junior School some years ago.

Nicholas Sampson was accompanied by the General Manager of Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley who was very supportive of the project. Some Year 9 students will be working with the Emirates field officers in their conservation reserve as part of their service activities at CITF this coming week. The theme for the Year 9 course is EXPLORATION where boys learn what is involved in an exploration and learn through experience what it takes to be an explorer and grow as individuals through their adventures.

The Year 9 programme will see boys taking on the challenge of bushwalking with their group, preparing and cooking their own meals, navigating and making fire from scratch! Some groups will also undertake an on-site Art workshop and others will be involved in an environmental service activity in conjunction with conservation Scientists from the Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley resort. This is a wonderful opportunity for boys to learn through experience in a beautiful and unique environment.

UPDATE 1 - 09/03/17

The bulk civil works are well and truly underway at Wolgan Valley. Within the last three weeks, the 2.5km driveway providing access to the property is being constructed from the rear crescent with works underway shaping an undulating central section.  The path of the driveway incorporates an asset protection zone to meet Rural Fire Service requirements and meanders gently to the rear of the property with spectacular reveals of the surrounding escarpments.

The rear valley of the property will have a large crescent as the pedestrian spine of the campus, off which three initial buildings will be constructed, being a refuge hall, accommodation and kitchen. Grassed areas for camping will also be formed in locations currently identified where future accommodation could address the crescent. Building construction will commence as soon as the driveway is trafficable and able to provide all-weather access for tradesmen.

A large portion of the project is the infrastructure for the future of the campus. This includes a water treatment plant for our bore and waste water management on site, as well as connection to mains power and fibre data cables from Wolgan Road

We will continue to bring you regular updates on this exciting Wolgan Valley development project.

All reports by David Hull.