After almost 10 years of planning, Arup are celebrating the opening of the Mamu Rainforest Canopy Walkway, an elevated tree-top walkway through the lush rainforest canopy of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area of North Queensland.
Situated in Wooroonooran National Park near Innisfail, Mamu Walkway is North Queensland’s new tourist attraction and the major project undertaken in a Queensland National Park.
The Mamu Walkway offers a unique experience with spectacular canopy-level views of highland rainforest, wild rivers, mountains, gorges and rapids.
Engineering and design firm Arup was involved in this Queensland Government project from inception to completion, designing the steel walkway and supporting infrastructure for the 350m elevated walkway, 8m long cantilever and 37m high observation deck.
The diverse project team of engineers, architects, bridge construction specialists and environmental consultants and Environmental Protection Agency staff worked with the Traditional Owners, the local Ma:Mu people, to create an attraction that preserves the delicate rainforest environment and cultural heritage of the area, showcases innovative engineering technology, and invites guests to experience a North Queensland rainforest in a way like no other.
Shaun Hartley, Senior Engineer from Arup’s Cairns office said the engineering feat of the $10 million elevated canopy walkway was made possible by natural clearings created by Cyclone Larry.
“The real beauty of the design is that the support towers rise from areas that were damaged by Cyclone Larry in 2006, which had a devastating impact on the region.
“The creation of the walkway was done as environmentally sensitively as possible to minimise the impacts throughout the construction phase as well as into the future,” he said.
“Recycled plastic decking was used throughout and solar panels have been installed to supplement energy supply.
“It was also important that the construction didn’t impose on the cultural values of the site. The project team worked closely with Ma:Mu people to preserve the cultural heritage of the area.
“We are very proud of our involvement in the canopy walkway which has been designed to give everyone the chance to see what life is like 40 metres above the ground in the rainforest's hidden canopy.”
Arup provided structural, civil and environmental design services out of the Cairns office. This included determining the route through the rainforest, working closely with geotechnical engineers to avoid areas of unstable slopes for tower footings and doing early concept designs to prove the project could be delivered both practically and financially.
The Mamu Rainforest Canopy Walkway is the culmination of a lengthy process, which began in the late nineties. It is now set to become an important tourist attraction, offering all visitors a good opportunity to explore and experience the Wet Tropics natural heritage and Aboriginal cultural heritage of the area.