Montague Island renovations begin with airlift: PHOTOS

THE first airlift of construction material, workers and equipment out to Montague Island took place in perfect conditions on Tuesday morning.

The Montague Island Nature Reserve will be closed to tour operations from Monday, April 28 until August 3 allowing vital repairs to the island’s buildings.

The roofs on the heritage-listed lighthouse keeper’s cottages on the island are all clad in asbestos.

Discovery Coordinator for Montague Island Tours, Cassandra Bendixsen said this asbestos would be removed from the houses and replaced with stainless steel.

“There will also be much associated work repairing and replacing the old roof battens and thorough asbestos cleaning works done,” she said.

There would be a minimal National Parks and Wildlife Service presence on the island, she said.

Also helicopters are expected to do some of the heavy lifting so expect some chopper activity around Narooma.

That activity began on Tuesday morning with the arrival of Touchdown Helicopters’ AS350 that was scheduled to lift around 25 tonnes of roofing steel, scaffolding and supplies in multiple lifts.

The helicopter worked until dark on Tuesday evening by which time the mountain of equipment piled up at Mystery Bay had all been transferred dangling under the sling of the helicopter.

Local companies Moruya Design Construction (MDC), Narooma Electrics and Narooma Plumbing have been contracted to conduct the renovations.

Narooma plumber Unto Holopainen, who just returned from a holiday to the Abrolhos Islands in WA, will now be doing shifts of 10 days on, four days off.

Supervising the loading of material from the staging point at Mystery Bay on Tuesday, Pip Smith of MDC said anywhere between 10 and 14 workers would be living on the island working on the job.

The asbestos rooves will be replaced with rust-resistant stainless steel Colorbond delivered by Steeline of Pambula/Batemans Bay.

MDC had also secured the services of the Island Charters’ vessel to complete regular runs out to the island.

The helicopter, based in Albion Park, was expected to return in a few weeks to remove the asbestos material in specially sealed hygienic bags, so there was no risk of material flying free even while flying through the air, Smith said.

Bendixsen said once a Certificate of Clearance for asbestos has been signed off, National Parks would consider re-opening the island in a limited capacity to Day Tour operations.

Bendixsen said the dates had been negotiated for the closure as they were outside peak tour times of Easter and whale watching season.

“The works will be conducted over our most quiet tour demand months; therefore, while there will be an impact on all our businesses, the impact will be as minimal as we can make it,” she said.