May 2011

Farms, especially modern dairy farms, cannot function smoothly without a reliable power supply.  With this important fact in mind, the May visit was organised to Powerworks at Morwell.

What a fascinating experience this was.  Many members had not previously experienced the enormity of everything to do with the generation of electricity.  Starting with an information session and video in the education centre, the inspection of the plant reminded us of the vast expanses of brown coal – lignite – in Victoria.  We learned of the extent of this brown coal deposit, the reminder of ancient forests which covered Victoria from Ballan in the west through to Cann River.  At Morwell, the coal seams are the deepest and the most easily recovered.

In addition to the size of the coal deposits, the machinery used to dredge the coal, the expansive open cut mines, the conveyor systems and the related building infrastructure were all impressive.  Two guides took the WOF group into the building housing the boilers and turbines.  Here, we noted that the temperature of the steam generated reaches over 500 deg.C.

Powerworks staff were keen to promote our appreciation of the company’s efforts to make power generation cleaner and less damaging to the environment.

Following this site tour, we took the opportunity to travel to adjacent Callignee South.  Here we travelled through what were burnt  forests and farmland, now re-generating after the 2009 bushfires.  Significantly, we visited a newly constructed home, built where the fires totally destroyed the former buildings.  Fire retardant  materials and fire resistant building design were among the features explained to us by the relieved property owner.  In this case, the new home is now complete but it was evident from the story told that the trauma of the fatal day is not far from the minds of such residents.

Women of all ages are welcome to join Women on Farms. The key criterion is an interest in farming and farming women – you do not have to be a farmer to participate. Our next  visit will be on Tuesday 7 June to the picturesque Neerim uplands.  Phone the Secretary for more details – Jenny Stephenson 9 700 0282  or, for information about the 2011 calendar of activities look at the website www.womenonfarms.org
For enquiries about this article, contact: Mary Hughes, Ph. 03 5628 4195.