Burying the line provided the necessary anchorage, and provided protection from windfall trees, loggers’ equipment and the curious hunters’ rifles. Experience has since shown that hunters do take pot shots at the exposed sections of the line and bulletproof shields were later installed.
Actual construction of the line started with an aerial survey in January 1966 and centre line locating and clearing was commenced almost concurrently from the north shore working toward the mine.
Clearing for survey purposes was only as wide as required by the surveying crew and this operation was followed by the opening up a 18 m-wide right-of-way. In much of the area Eucalyptus trees as tall as 61 m further complicated a difficult job.
Access into the northern area was not too difficult, but as the line proceeded south, the gently rolling area gave way to extremely rugged, heavily forested areas with very tall trees and horizontal rain forest growth. Roads in the general vicinity were non-existent and the crew worked from mobile camps, which were moved forward as clearing progressed.
In early May 1966, about half of the surveying, clearing and grading had been completed. By September 1966 the survey was complete and construction was started for the foundations of the Savage River span. The first pipe arrived in mid-October and trenching, stringing and laying operations were commenced from the north working toward the mine.
In order to meet the 10 per cent maximum grade criteria and minimum line length, approximately 3 per cent of the line is above ground, including two major spans, and minor lengths which are supported on A frames.
The combination of the grade criteria and the extremely rugged terrain has produced what might be called the ‘crookedest pipeline in the world’.