The Narrabeen Lagoon Trail is more than just a scenic shared pathway on Sydney’s northern beaches. It weaves its way through a beautiful, but environmentally sensitive, habitat on the fringes of one of Australia’s most populous and affluent residential regions. This means it’s both heavily trafficked and very high-profile.

So when Warringah Council sought competitive tenders for the 850 metre first stage of the trail’s upgrade, it was looking to set a precedent. To set the standard for all future stages of the upgrade, which would eventually see the trail circumnavigate the entire lagoon.

Council needed a cost-effective outcome that was environmentally friendly, safe and durable. Not to mention usable and easy on the eye. No small task, considering the upgrade would require marine piling, elevated boardwalks, stairs, viewing pods, lookouts, custom furniture, landscaping and general trail works! And all on a fragile site with very limited access...

Fleetwood won the project with a tender of approximately $2.2 million, which included the design consultation, planning, manufacture, construction and installation of a timber and fibreglass (wheelchair-friendly) boardwalk, complete with seating and a series of look-out points, sandstone paths and soft landscape elements.

One of the more challenging aspects of the project was the access to the site of construction. We needed to minimise environmental impact and – remembering that the trail is linear - ensure we didn’t ‘paint ourselves into a corner’. To this end, we carried out the piling first, starting at the Deep Creek end and working back to the limited access points. We then craned in some of the steel sub-frame off the Wakehurst Parkway and carried the rest using small crawler tracked ‘dumpers’.

We used small crawler cranes to install the sub-frames and, for the most part, installed the decking as we went. (We carried the decking in on quad bike-towed trailers and occasionally by boat.) We installed the heavy, 400-square ‘perch seats’ at the same time, lifting them into place with a portable ‘A’ frame crane.

Thanks to our wide range of in-house skills, combined with strict project controls, flexibility and intelligent planning, we were able to meet all of Council’s requirements. We finished on time and within budget, and the project went on to win the 2011 Minister for Planning & Infrastructure – Sydney Greenspace Award.