12 March, 2014

The winds of change

After a recent discussion with some of the locals, I was made aware of the Mount Mercer Wind Farm and of its proximity to the Leigh River so of course I headed off to take some photos for a blog post!
As I headed across country towards Rokewood, I had my first glimpse of the turbines turning in the distance.

Wind turbines at the Mount Mercer Wind Farm
Every now and then, as I made my way north via the scenic route, I caught sight of those huge, white towers, lined up like rows of three-petaled flowers atop Mount Mercer. En masse they are quite an impressive sight but up close, they are even more striking with each tower measuring 126 metres.

Turbines in action
I took photos from various different points, distances and angles. The above shot was probably the closest I got and whilst I could hear the hum as it turned, it was not particularly loud. It certainly did not seem to bother the cows grazing nearby. This and other windmills close by were functioning, however not all of the projected sixty-four turbines are operational as yet. My sources inform me that about half are currently in use and the rest it seems are being progressively brought online starting from November, 2013.
Construction equipment and the pieces of a turbine on the ground waiting
to be installed
Once completed, it is projected that the wind farm will produce enough electricity annually to power about 100,000 households - or to put it another way, the entire city of Ballarat. It will also prevent the emission of 510,000 tonnes of  carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The following recent article in the Ballarat Courier gives more details.
The power, once generated, is collected from each tower via an underground network and then transferred to a "switchyard facility" before being carried by an above-ground 132kV line to a substation about 4km north of the township of Elaine, where the voltage is stepped up and the electricity enters the national grid.
132kV lines carrying power to the Elaine substation
In total, the wind farm covers 2,600 hectares of farmland belonging to seven farmers who were offered $7,000 per annum per turbine on their land.
Such a project however is not without its critics and the surrounding community would seem to be divided between those in favour and those against. Arrangements had to be individually negotiated with each landholder whose land the line would cross and where approval was not granted, the line was forced to detour, giving it - I'm told - a somewhat irregular appearance.
Also somewhat incongruous was the image below which I snapped on the Shelford-Mount Mercer Road. The times are certainly changing!
The old and the new
The only thing I did not manage to spot as I zipped along various country roads looking to see the turbines at their best angle (and the most relevant part of this post), was the point at which the line carrying the power from the turbines crosses the Leigh River.

03 March, 2014

River art!

In many places graffiti can be a problem, however in some cases it can be an interesting form of public art and one which I mentioned a while back in a previous post. Over the last week or so, I have noticed several new pieces around Geelong and a couple of them have even been on the Barwon.

Informal bridge art on the Barwon near Queen's Park
The above piece which I spotted this afternoon on a stroll along the river near Queen's Park, would be visible from the river and possibly the opposite bank. It reminded me that for the last week or so I had been noticing another picture which had appeared rather prominently under the James Harrison Bridge and which was quite detailed. So of course, I dashed off to take some photos of that too.
James Harrison Bridge art
I am not sure if this piece is officially sanctioned, however it is certainly lending some colour to the otherwise rather grey surrounds of the bridge. It would be interesting to know who the artist was and whether any more additions are planned.

The James Harrison Bridge
Finally, whilst it is not on the Barwon, the most impressive piece would seem to be the wall of the toilet block at St Helen's on Corio Bay. On such a scale, I assume it has been made to order, however once again I do not know who the artist(s) is/are.

At St Helen's, Corio Bay
It has occurred to me several times over the last few years that there are several large, blank walls that could use a similar treatment. Enough such pieces in the right places and perhaps a walking/riding art trail might be developed. Who knows!