ENCAT was engaged to design, manufacture & install a modular staircase installation at Maloneys Beach on the NSW South Coast. At 24m high and 49m long, the stairs form part of the southern end of the Murramarang South Coast Walk. This is a 35km multi-day walking trail and will help people who are using the Acheron Ledge walking track to make their way safely down the the beach area below.
- 100% custom designed and manufactured in Australia
- Constructed onsite and completed within 7 days
- Made from Australian sourced steel
- Stainless steel construction with 400+ year lifespan
- Expandable, modular design for later extensions
- Suitable for viewing platforms, seating or bridges to be added
- Made to meet all stair regulations in NSW
The hike traverses hidden coves, secluded beaches, and forests of spotted gums which grow down to the beach. Nature lovers also have ample opportunities to spot lyrebirds, friendly eastern grey kangaroos, bandicoots and echidnas.
A new staircase built for a steep slope to access Maloneys Beach
Maloneys Beach on the NSW South Coast is fringed by National Park. Locals & bushwalkers would enjoy taking the Acheron Ledge Walking Track out to Reef Point with it’s incredible views. Many would then return along the path passing Chain Bay and then work their way down from the trail through the bushland on the steep slope to get down to the beach. Over the years this ‘man made’ path had been worn through the soft sand, unfortunately it was quite unsafe & it was also damaging the plant life.
As part of the works for the Murramarang South Coast Walk, ENCAT was engaged to design and fabricate a staircase solution that would enable pedestrians to safely make their way up or down the steep slope. ENCAT is regularly engaged by National Parks, local councils, schools and even shopping centres as a staircase contractor who can design, fabricate and install a new set of stairs indoors or outdoors.
We specialise in designing coastal staircases using our unique modular staircase system that is made out of stainless steel. A coastal staircase was the perfect choice to use on the Murramarang South Coast Walk which is a 48-kilometre multi-day walking track on the South Coast. There has been lots of remedial work taking place with the first stage removing and replacing burnt sections of existing track damaged in the 2019–20 bushfires. This staircase had to meet all the NSW stair regulations plus withstand the salty air while being constantly exposed to the elements.
Designing a custom made staircase for this site was the only suitable solution. This installation forms part of the $3.64 million project that will see sections of track repaired then extended or linked into other existing sections to create an uninterrupted 48-kilometre walking experience. It will traverse Murramarang National Park and Murramarang Aboriginal Area and provide a beautiful walking trail experience that will connect the coastal villages of Maloneys Beach, Durras, Depot Beach, Kioloa and Bawley Point. “
This new walkway will traverse the coastline, cross headlands, forest and beaches and we were tasked with designing a solution to be installed on the 47 metre long section that had a rise of 25 metres on a slope of 32 degrees. You can see more information about the full extent of the project on the NSWNP website – Master Plan for the Murramarang South Coast Walk
How did we design an outdoor staircase solution for this National Park trail?
After doing a site inspection our civil engineering team decided that the best solution was to use our Modular Boardwalk system because it could be adapted to suit the existing site conditions. It is a Grade 4 track that needed a staircase constructed that could be installed on the slope. There was evidence of pedestrians ‘creating’ their own track by scrambling up and down through the bush. Installing a new staircase with balustrade would ensure they can do this safely in the future. To have stairs in a national park improves safety & accessibility for visitors to enjoy the areas while feeling safe. By using our modular outdoor stair solution it meant each piece could be custom made to fit the terrain, the steep gradient and if needed twist, turn or follow the contour of the land to preserve trees or existing rock formations.
Not only has this created erosion because of the soft soil but it is very dangerous with the very steep 32 degree slope making it very easy for someone to fall or tumble (not to mention the risk of stepping on a snake or other wildlife)
This staircase installation was extremely challenging given the combination of conditions;
- An elevation rise of 25 metres
- A distance of 47 metres to be covered at a 32 degree slope
- Working in soil that was very poor loose loam to a depth of 3m in places.
- A very delicate natural landscape and environment that was very easily damaged.
The reason our Modular Boardwalk system was chosen as the right product to be manufactured and installed is because civil engineering companies were unable to use excavators for the piering works due to the slope & site conditions. This meant all the footing work had to be installed by hand which can be done with our system that is a great choice for difficult site locations in the forest, by the ocean or in wetlands.
Can a staircase or boardwalk be installed on a slope in a National Park?
The photos of this site in a National Park tell a story of one thousand words, just look at the gradient of the slope and the distance that had to be covered. It is pretty amazing to think pedestrians were walking up and down this area of bushland to reach the beach.
During the design stages we had originally planned on constructing concrete piers, however the Geotech reports advised depths of up to 3 metres were required. This meant that excavators were unable to drill into the ground due to the safety risks of sliding down the slope. Even considering screw piering would have required heavy machinery that could not be safely operated on this site.
So the solution that we came up with was to use our unique rammed pier design that could be manually installed to achieve the load bearing requirements for the structure. Our construction crew manually rammed the stainless steel piers into the soil between 1m and 1.5m at 800mm centres.
A unique guidance and securing methodology was used to keep the piers straight and permitted adjustment during the construction phase. This design has benefits for the environment because there is no disturbance of the area except for the ramming of piers into the ground i.e. no digging, no concrete, no galvanised steel zinc leaching.
The stringers were CAD designed in house and we computer CNC drilled them for the required treads & to deliver absolute precision to aid assembly later on site. Taking this approach also ensured that the Tread/Rise ratios were compliant with the National Construction Code’s ‘stair slope relationship compliance’ regulations.
The other aspect that was unique about this construction is that stainless steel was selected for the structural materials due to the proximity to the ocean less than 100 metres away. In this environment the service life of stainless steel is expected to be 400 years.
We also elected to use four bolt coach bolts as the securing method for the FRP stair treads. These bolts permit easy removal of the treads in the future when they are deemed worn out and require replacement or need to be repaired if they are damaged. We have found the standard fixing method of screw clips as problematic as they can come loose over time, this presents a safety hazard especially on staircases.
The combination of design, installation technique & structural materials used for this staircase will mean the local council or National Parks and Wildlife Service will not have to spend time or money on long term maintenance. More importantly, pedestrians will be able to go up and down this walking trail very safely during any type of weather condition.
What design elements made this outdoor staircase installation unique?
Stainless steel structural material
It may have been possible to use timber or other materials to construct this staircase but using stainless steel will ensure it has a long lifespan beyond 100 years.
Stainless steel will withstand the elements which for this site is a mixture of ground moisture from run off as well as salt water spray from the ocean.
!00% custom designed for the existing conditions
Rather than using pre-fabricated systems our Modular Boardwalk System is 100% custom designed to suit the specific existing conditions of the site. It means there is relatively little change to the landscape & the new structure fits the site rather than the other way around.
Our system helps to protect the environment while also being easy to install on site.
Our system is manufactured in our factory in NSW and then transported to the site ready to be installed. The precision engineering and metal fabrication means that everything is ready to be installed on the site without making further changes or adjusment.
This reduces installation time, labour costs & maximises efficiency.
Expandable boardwalk design
This project was focussed on building the new staircase. In the future if the NPWS decides to extend the pathway into the national park our system can be expanded to accomodate this.
New raised boardwalks can be constructed to follow existing tracks, change direction or gradients to suit the location.
Tourist friendly features or modifications
We can design or adapt our Modular Boardwalk System to include viewing platforms, scenic look outs, seating or even bike storage racks.
Each of these additions can improve the tourist friendly nature of any walkway whether it is in a forest, by the beach or a coastal clifftop walk.
What did the finished project look like?
The completed installation almost feels like it ‘belongs’ on the slope due to the customised design that follows the contours of the slope perfectly. The silver colour of the stainless steel blends in nicely with the colouring of the nearby trees so that it doesn’t distract too much from the environment.
The comfortably placed treads will make this an enjoyable walk going either up or down the stairs. The treads allow for water or leaf debris to be cleared away very easily by the breeze to ensure it is always safe to walk on.
Lastly, the integrated balustrade handrail system will provide support for pedestrians walking up or down the stairs.
Custom made outdoor staircase installations
ENCAT regularly works with civil works contractors, local or state government departments or national parks services to design, manufacture and install civil use structures to suit any type of application or existing site. We have been doing this since 1989
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