An update from the Townsville Region

News, CPD and updates from the Townsville region.
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An update from the Townsville Region

Welcome to the next Townsville update.

The Townsville Regional Group committee has continued to meet on a regular basis via video conference. It has been a great way to ensure we remain connected to the engineering profession on a local scale and has been important in helping to understand how the pandemic has impacted our professional community. Fortunately, many local infrastructure projects have been able to continue throughout these times, keeping engineers and project managers busy in the Townsville region.


Member Spotlight

Marissa Wise FIEAust

How long have you been a member of Engineers Australia?

About 25 years.

What do you love most about being an engineer?

I love seeing the social benefit of the work that I am involved in.  I love seeing others contribute to that benefit and grow as human beings.

What’s been your most memorable moment as a professional engineer/technologist/associate?

I was very proud the day that Townsville Ring Road 4 was opened. I had been involved in that project for about five years, but the full life of the project spanned about 25 years. Over those 25 years, hundreds of people worked on the project to make that important road a reality. To be there at the end of such a long process and to have been part of building such a terrific piece of infrastructure was a great feeling.

It is quite amazing to think of the total contribution to the Townsville Ring Road. There were multiple projects over many years with perhaps several thousand people contributing to work on a project that significantly improved the way people move around Townsville. I was a junior construction engineer on the original Douglas Arterial that opened in 2005 and the District Director when Ring Road 4 opened in 2016.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing your region?

The planet is an important consideration for all of us. At the Port of Townsville, we are acutely aware of the sensitive location in which we operate, inside the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. We also understand the importance of our role in contributing to a sustainable future in the North Queensland region. For more than 20 years, the Port has undertaken extensive environmental monitoring programs. We combine that information with others, such as the Dry Tropics Partnership for Healthy Waters, to allow everyone to have a more complete picture of the health of our waterways.

The cost of infrastructure is significant, and we need to build projects that leave a positive legacy. The Port is a classic example of where in the early years we can see from the drawings that they considered future development. With great hindsight, we can say that we would have done a few things a little differently but overall the past Port leaders did a great job. Money is always tight, and we all need to ensure we spend it in the best possible way regardless of the type of work, research, design, planning, construction, and maintenance activities that we undertake. We need to think of the whole-of-life cost and benefit of our work and invest dollars and time in the best possible way.

What are some new opportunities that are presenting themselves for the profession?

I think that the profession is yet to address our general lack of diversity and inclusion. Some pockets are diverse and inclusive, however, I think that other areas still tell themselves that it is impossible to be inclusive across the full range of work in the business. That just isn't true. Solid commitment and purposeful engagement will assist you to make your work area open to the rest of the available workforce.  You don't need to change the organisation to begin - begin with your workspace (your own desk and your choice of language) and expand from there. We as an industry are missing out on great people joining us because we still don't look and behave in an inclusive way. The number of engineers who I know that will not encourage their own daughters into our profession is disheartening. If we don't want our children involved how could we expect anyone else to encourage their children to join us?

Sustainable practices and green engineering are the way of the future, you might be surprised at how much you already consider this but perhaps didn't look at it with this lens. In the future we need to consider sustainable practices in order to push asset optimisation, we need to invest wisely in research, planning, design, construction, maintenance and decommissioning to achieve value-for-money (read 'sustainable' and 'green') outcomes.


Local Project Updates

CopperString 2.0 Electricity Transmission Network

CopperString 2.0 is a project that involves the construction of a high-voltage transmission line that will connect the people and communities of Mount Isa and the North West Minerals Province to the National Electricity Grid. It will supply electricity to existing customers in North West Queensland and deliver opportunities for new industrial facilities and large agricultural and renewable energy projects.

The total network being developed will stretch for up to 1000km and consist of a high-voltage transmission line from a substation on the Ross to Strathmore transmission line (south of Townsville) to a substation near Cloncurry and then on to Mount Isa.

CopperString 2.0 has an estimated total capital cost of $1.5 billion. It will create around 400 new jobs during construction and approximately 20 direct jobs during operation. The project is also expected to generate significant indirect employment opportunities, with flow-on economic benefits for local communities between Townsville and Mount Isa.

Once all necessary government approvals have been obtained, construction is expected to commence in 2021 and take approximately three years.



Engineers Australia established the Australian Historic Engineering Plaquing Program in 1984 as a means of bringing public recognition to engineering works of historic or heritage significance and to the engineers who created them.

This program is now called the Engineering Heritage Recognition Program. The purpose of the Program is to encourage conservation of Australian engineering heritage and to raise community awareness of engineering and the benefits it provides.

More than 220 sites have now been recognised under this program.

Victoria Bridge and its Crossley Engine, Ross Creek, 1881-

HEM: Historic Engineering Marker (to 2008)


Member Congratulations and Recognition

We'd also like to extend our congratulations to a number of local members who have reached professional milestones this quarter.


Michael Downing MIEAust CPEng NER
Jacob Eapen MIEAust CPEng NER
Ben Halfpenny MIEAust CPEng
Chris Jewitt AMIEAust CEngA NER IntETn(Aus)
Karl Jilg AMIEAust CEngA NER IntETn(Aus)
Daniel Kennedy MIEAust CPEng NER
Greg McCubben MIEAust CPEng
Brendan Melita MIEAust CPEng NER
Robert Nathan  AMIEAust CEngA NER IntETn(Aus)
Karl Schipanski MIEAust CPEng NER
John Single MIEAust CPEng NER

Engineering Executive and Fellow:

Senduran Vigeswaran, FIEAust CPEng EngExec NER APEC Engineer IntPE(Aus)

We would also like to congratulate Australian Engineering Excellence Awards finalists in our region.

Townsville CBD Utilities Upgrade, BMD Constructions

BMD Constructions was engaged by Townsville City Council as managing contractor to upgrade the water and wastewater infrastructure in the Townsville CBD. As one of the biggest utility upgrades in Townsville, BMD successfully installed approximately 20 kilometres of water and sewerage pipework, replacing mains up to 60 years old. The project was necessary to improve the capacity and efficiency of water and wastewater services to residents and businesses, to maintain water pressure and to ensure the city can cater for future residential and commercial growth, with 30,000 people expected to be living and working in the CBD by 2030.

James Cook University Central Plaza (Queensland), Meinhardt Group, James Cook University, Cox Architecture

Central Plaza at JCU Townsville is Stage 1 of the Ideas Market development, forming the academic, social and entertainment hub of the campus. The plaza will connect all future development elements, making it the centrepiece of long-term urban development project, Discovery Rise.

View all the AEEA 2020 finalists here. 


Upcoming Local CPD

Port of Townsville Expansion (Tuesday 29 September, 4.00-5.00pm AEST)

The Port of Townsville is the largest commercial Port in Northern Australia but, at just 92 metres, the shipping channel is one of the narrowest in the country. Currently, vessels up to 238 metres in length can safely access the Port. Ships are getting larger, so the Port needs to adapt so that it is able to service the needs of North Queensland's mining, defence, agriculture, construction, vehicle and tourism industries.

The $1.6 billion Port Expansion Project (PEP) is a long-term development plan for the port. It includes capital dredging for channel widening, land reclamation to develop a new outer harbour, wharves, and associated infrastructure to be constructed by 2040.

This presentation will be delivered by Marissa Wise FIEAust (General Manager Infrastructure and Environment, Port of Townsville).

You can find out more about this event right here.



If you have a topic to present on or want to get more involved in the local engineering professional community, please get in contact with us. The committee meets regularly and always welcomes new members - please email [email protected] and we will be in contact with you.

Yours sincerely,
Emma King MIEAust CPEng NER
Co-Chair, Townsville Regional Committee

Jason Hockings MIEAust CPEng NER
Co-Chair, Townsville Regional Committee