Port Macquarie Race Course construction by M Collins & Sons (Contractors)

Posted on February 22nd, 2016

Turfcraft International recently published a story about the Port Macquarie Race Course that M Collins & Sons (Contractors) Pty Ltd are involved in the construction with.

Article Published in Turfcraft International January / February 2016 edition

Article by Alistair Dowie



Port track designed to weather a storm

Delivery of nearly $4 million of works at the Port Macquarie Racing Club on the NSW mid-north coast is on track for June this year. The major project involving reconstruction of the sand track followed by the course proper has been part of a collaborative approach between the three stakeholders the Port Macquarie Race Club (the owners), Racing NSW (the funding providers) and M. Collins and Sons Contractors Pty Ltd (the Principal Contractor). Work started with the upgrade of the sand track which started in March 2015 with a budget of $400,000.

The work included ensuring the structural integrity of the existing stabilised road base layer and rectifying any defects, refurbishing the sand profile to create a suitable sand training track as per Racing NSW minimum standards, and upgrading the irrigation system, and plinths where failing or close to the end of their useful life.  A new PVC railings system was installed on the inside and outside of the sand track. The sand track measured 1505 metres in circumference and was 7.5 metres wide (no chutes).  While the sand track was being upgraded trainers used the course proper for training purposes while racing was halted.

Racing NSW Projects Manager Callum Brown said the sand track upgrade was completed in June 2015 a six week build and construction of the course proper followed immediately.  The existing profile for the course proper was a sandy loam with slit drainage. There was a 120-150mm organic layer capping the track.

The rebuild was budgeted at $3.3 million and the scope of work included:

  1. removal of the top organic layer of the track profile;
  2. Reshaping of the camber (crossfall) on the home and back turns to minimise any track bias when racing;
  3. Widening of the back turn and the home straight to ensure safe racing widths;
  4. Capping of the table drain on the outside of the home straight ; and
  5. Rebuilding a premium all-weather turf surface that drained to a minimum of 180mm/hr, including all starting chutes. That included earthworks, upgrade of track furniture, irrigation and pumping systems and water storage to support the maintenance and operation of the upgraded track.

Mr Brown said the work on the course proper started in July 2015 and completion was set for March this year and a proposed first race meeting in June. The track covers an area of 3.4 hectares including 1500m, 1200m and 2000m chute starts. The awarded tender from M Collins & Sons was to rebuild the track with a perched water table profile that could drain to a minimum of 180mm/hr.

Mr Brown said the works included:

  • removal of the existing track profile and drainage to 400mm depth;
  • widening of the home straight and back turn from 13m to 17m;
  •  subgrade to minimum 98% standard compaction;
  • install 10 kilometres of subsoil drainage pipes that feed stormwater into the infield storage dams
    for reuse;
  • install 100mm gravel blanket layer;
  • install 90/10 sandy loam growing medium similar to USGA specifications (a cost effective solution sourcing local sands)
  • perched water table to USGA design specifications (bridging factor, porosity, moisture release
    curve etc.);
  • washed male sterile kikuyu turf from Billabong Turf Farm in Richmond, NSW;
  • Installation of a new irrigation dual row (valve in head) Toro Infinity irrigation system, new pump
    shed and pumping system, moisture sensors and Toro control system;
  • construction of a new detention basin in the infield capable of storing 8000m3 of water; and
  • new winning post and distance markers.

Mr Brown said the new track was constructed with 2% uniform positive camber (sloping outside rail to inside rail) on straights and 3 to 6% uniform positive camber on turns.
He said construction of the course proper was on target with the turf fully laid before Christmas and root depths of 150-200 by early January.

From the club:

Port Macquarie CEO Michael Bowman said the rebuild had been required to correct inconsistent drainage rates around and across the old track. The club hosts 23 meetings in total including two for the nearby Wauchope RC.
Mr Bowman said the work had improved the 1500m chute transition onto the course proper as well improving drainage.

From the contractor:

M. Collins and Sons Managing Director Matt Collins said the “design and construct” project had been a collaborative effort that ensured input into all components of the project and which was reflected in the inclusions and quality of construction. It was a shared obligation for approval of the design features of the new track. The approach meant a lot of open communications to ensure “best in class” for whatever aspect of construction involved.

He said M Collins and Sons provided a detailed quality construction plan and there were inspection and test milestones for a large number of components of the design. There was a system of detailed checks and balances during design and construction particularly in the area of gravel for the drainage layer, the perched water table growing medium and turf surface used. Mr Collins said “One of the key features of the project design involved widening the home turn and the straight to eliminate the bias that existed on the original track. The design brief was to preserve the traditional uphill run to the rise at the 280 metre mark and the downhill run to the winning post. In order to construct these improvements, it was necessary to excavate a substantial quantity of hard rock from within the bank on the outside of the course proper and from the rock shelf situated under the course proper.

These works have vastly improved the alignment of the straight with the home turn and compliment the overall reconstruction works on the course proper.”




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