Ord - East Kimberley Expansion Project (OEKEP) Workers Camp 

Garrjang Village - A bold concept from Brighthouse Consultants that may become the new paradigm in bringing sustainable benefits to regional communities from mining and construction Projects.

The enormous benefits to the East Kimberley region of the $415 million East Kimberley Expansion Project are indisputable.

However, the potential impact of hundreds of workers for the construction phase filling Kununurra's tourist accommodation for the duration of the project rang alarm bells for local businesses. Most local businesses are dependant on the town's accommodation providers - hotels, motels and caravan parks, to maintain a profitable stream of visitors during the holiday season.

The Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley and Tourism WA noted the recent experience at Port Hedland and Karratha, where tourists by-passed the town due to a lack of availability and high cost of accommodation through the influx of resource mining workers.  

Many stakeholders considered the solution to be an increase in the town's caravan park capacity and Tourism WA instigated a feasibility study for a new caravan park facility in Kununurra. In April 2009 Brighthouse was selected as the Consultant to undertake the study.

With its experience in regional tourism and understanding of the seasonal nature of tourism occupancy in the Kimberley, Brighthouse sought ways to reduce the capital cost of constructing a new caravan park while maintaining a quality outcome.

The final Brighthouse report of June 2009, introduced the strategic concept of combining the short-term need for OEKEP worker accommodation with a solution to increase the town's future tourism accommodation capacity. A key recommendation was the involvement of the Shire and MG Corporation in the future operation of the proposed facility to provide sustainable benefits for the local Indigenous community through training and employment.

The proposal was for a short-term worker's camp to be built on and connected to below-ground services that were set out and suitable for a future caravan park and tourist accommodation facility. In that way the cost of sewer, water and electricity connections would be paid by the OEKEP and instead of being removed and destroyed at the end of the construction phase, they could be utilised in the construction of a new caravan park facility. Landscaping was to be strategically installed so that there were mature trees between the future caravan sites to provide shade and create ambiance and amenity for tourist visitors when the caravan park was opened.

The Brighthouse Feasibility Study report was circulated to key stakeholders by Tourism WA and resulted in discussion between Landcorp as the State Government Agency responsible for the provision of the OEKEP worker's camp, the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley and MG Corporation representing the traditional landowners. Brighthouse was engaged to facilitate a meeting of stakeholders in Kununurra at which the stakeholders agreed to prepare individual business case studies for their adoption of the proposal.

Landcorp engaged Brighthouse in late November 2009 to prepare the design for the workers camp and a concept for its future redundant use as a caravan park. Working with with Benchmark Projects, Project Managers for the OEKEP project, Brighthouse produced the technical designs for civil, hydraulic and electrical works for underground services, site plans and architectural drawings for camp buildings and prepared documentation for a the public tender of the camp construction.

Site Plan Garrjang Village Worker's CampOn the 17 February 2010, Lands Minister Brendon Grylls confirmed that the State Government had awarded a $3.1 million contract to Ertech Pty Ltd to perform site works on the 250 person workers accommodation village at Kununurra.

On 5 March 2010 Minister Grylls announced the State Government’s $220million Ord-East Kimberley Expansion Project took another step forward with the announcement that WA Potable accommodation builder, Fleetwood Pty Ltd, had been selected to build, operate and maintain the key piece of infrastructure for the duration of the Liberal-National Government’s Royalties for Regions project. “This company has a wealth of experience in the construction and operation of similar facilities across Australia,” Mr Grylls said.

“They were selected on value for money and the opportunities they will offer local businesses, as well as indigenous employment prospects.”

“The workers’ village will accommodate workers who will be building the channels, roads and drainage infrastructure associated with the irrigation expansion project during the 2010 and 2011 dry seasons,” Mr Grylls said. To ensure tourism accommodation availability is not adversely affected by the influx of construction workers, the initial 150 beds and the associated amenity buildings will be commissioned in the village ready for the start of the main contract works.”

The Minister said the village had been designed with a capacity of up to 300 beds and would also contain kitchens, laundries, a wet mess, recreation room and gym. The contractor would also refurbish 25 accommodation units Units awaiting refurbishment in Kununurra which had been inspected by Brighthouse at the Pillara minesite and subsequently purchased by Landcorp.

The civil works were completed and services were installed by Ertech to Brighthouse's design during February and early March 2010.

With Fleetwood mobilising its construction workforce in early March 2010, Landcorp appointed Brighthouse as Company Representative for the construction of the camp. As contract administrators and Project Managers for the camp, Brighthouse worked with OEKEP Project Manager, Benchmark Projects to ensure that the camp was built on budget and on time for the OEKEP Civil Contractor's workers.

The camp was operational in May 2010 and reached full occupancy in June 2010.

The Shire of East Kimberley and MG Corporation continue to evaluate the potential for the redundant use of the camp for tourist accommodation and caravan park.

January 2012

The second stage of the Ord Irrigation Expansion Project required an increase 80 rooms at the camp to accommodate the larger workforce. With mobilisation of the project in late April 2012, Landcorp engaged Brighthouse to draft pplans and specifications and tender documentation for the camp expansion. 

Ecofficient Homes, a Kununurra builder of relocatable homes was the winning tenderer and Brighthouse acted as Superintendent Representative on the construction project. 

The construction of the new accommodation rooms was completed ahead of program and on budget, resulting in considerable savings in accommodation costs for the Ord Project.

Brighthouse has a continuing role as LandCorp's contract consultant for the camp operation.