Bungendore wind farm
21 April 2010
The Digitisation & Photography Branch has a role in developing the NLA digital collections by providing original photographs of scenes of Australian life. Here is how Sam Cooper, one of the Library’s photographers, describes his recent photographic assignment. Some of the photographs Sam took on the day will be selected for the Library's Pictures collection.
5:30am on Friday April 9th 2010 I drove along Tarago Road just past Bungendore towards Capital Wind Farm. My conversation with the farms Site Manager Sturt Daley from the previous day regarding my fitness level and whether I was scared of heights was in the back of my mind. He also mentioned that the turbines were 80 metres high and access to the top is via a straight ladder! Sturt found me pulled over on the side of the road about a kilometre before our designated meeting place. I was racing to get some shots of the turbines with the vibrant orange sunrise peeking over the hills behind. We travelled in convoy along dirt roads towards the wind turbines stopping every so often to jump out of the car and photograph the increasingly large objects. As we drove through Currendooley station which is the original property in which all 67 wind turbines are now spinning, a farmer was doing a morning drove of her cattle right next to the one of the turbines. I now had an overwhelming sense of the scale of these awesome machines. The turbines seem to be a similar height to a fully grown mountain ash or a 30 storey building. We continued to follow the dirt road which skirted the western side of the wind farm and bordered Lake George and made our way up one of the highest hills on the farm. My heart was racing by this time and I was starting to question my fitness level! Sturt hopped out of his ute and came over to me carrying a large bag of climbing harness and the usual safety gear. After putting the climbing harness on back to front and upside down I managed to pull it together for the climb. We entered the base of wind turbine 22. Sturt shut the turbine down so that it wouldn't sway when we got to the top which I was informed can be up to a meter on high wind days - eeeoowww! After hooking my harness onto a safety line we began to climb the turbine. At first I had all the enthusiasm of a boy in his first running race. I soon found that slow and steady does win the race and that I really don’t have very large biceps. We finally made it to the top of the turbine engine room. Sturt showed me around the interworking of the machine which continued to rotate around to face into the wind which was a little scary. He then popped open the door to the roof of the turbine, much like the sun roof of a sports 4-wheel drive. We climbed out and re-harnessed onto the 6 square meter curved bullet shaped platform, a terrifying moment but an amazing vantage point to photograph the whole wind farm. I spent about half an hour photographing the landscape and the wind farm that seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see. I think it will be hard to beat as one of the most satisfying and exciting days of my working life.
Photographs: Sam Cooper