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Iconic stone restoration project moves into next phase

Said to be one of Victoria’s most significant restoration projects in terms of time and resources, the refurbishment of the iconic Melbourne building is currently in stage 11. Works began in 2005.

{{quote-A:R-W:300-I:4-Q:"One decision that we made fairly early was that we would not put a target date or a budget on the project.”-WHO: Peter Lochert, Department of Parliamentary Services secretary}}Department of Parliamentary Services secretary Peter Lochert told Quarry the restoration project was nearly 100 years in the making.

“The last time any significant work was done was in 1929,” Lochert said. “The whole building was founded out of the gold rush; however, the moment the gold rush finished the tap got turned off and building stopped.

“Whole areas of the building were never completed.”

The original quarry that supplied the majority of Parliament’s stone is now the heritage-listed Heatherlie Quarry in the Grampians National Park. Therefore, bluestone and sandstone was brought in from Bamstone Quarry in Port Fairy, Victoria and Gosford Quarries’ Piles Creek Quarry in NSW.


Lochert emphasised that the quality of the work was key in ensuring the building would be enjoyed by future generations to come.

“One decision that we made fairly early was that we would not put a target date or a budget on the project,” Lochert explained.

“We knew that we had initially somewhere around $2.5 to $3.5 million budgeted for maintenance and capital works that we could use, so we decided that every repair was going to have to have a 100-year life, and were going to do it properly.

“So if $2.5 million only buys us 10 metres of building that’s fine; if it buys us 60 metres, that’s fine. The point was that we had to make sure whatever repair we put in here is going to last 100 years,” he added.

Daily quirks

Overseeing the construction work is Tim O’Connor, general manager of construction business O’Connors. When asked if his team had encountered anything out of the ordinary on site he responded with a resounding “yes”.

“We’ve seen all sorts of things,” O’Connor said. “We found that in some of the previous repairs, stone was being held in by coathangers. The best one we had was a car aerial; we’ve also had stone that should have had a 100mm repair and it had a 30mm repair. We’re basically doing a 100-year fix.”

Parliament House was constructed between 1855 and 1929 and is one of Melbourne’s most recognisable landmarks.


More reading
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Aussie stone sourced for iconic restoration project
Shrine redevelopment to use original granite
Urban encroachment doesn’t stop quarry


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