FROM Korumburra to Leongatha, the nbn ploughed a 13km stretch through farmland to direct bury fibre.

The uncommon approach is the first time nbn has used the direct buried method to roll out fibre in Victoria.

There were a number of factors, including cost, distance and complexity that stopped nbn from adopting a more traditional duct and cable solution.

As Telstra chose to direct bury its own fibre in the area, there was no existing duct for the nbn crews to use.

Adopting a direct bury approach instead will save almost half the cost of boring and installing nbn’s own ducting along the route.

A special plough machine was brought in to dig the extremely long trench, which crossed multiple properties ranging from farms to vineyards and so the nbn worked extensively with land owners during the works.

Project manager for nbn’s Victorian regional deployment, Vaia Variamis, said the landscape has changed considerably over the years, with much more development now in place.

“With direct buries, you need to use a ploughing method and historically when Telstra would have ploughed their cable through, it wouldn’t have been such a built-up area,” Vaia said.

“Ploughing is usually done in long stretches of farmland where you don’t have much infrastructure, no shopfronts and so on.

“But obviously as things have progressed, Leongatha is now a bit more developed, so in a lot of these areas, it’s a little bit tricky to direct bury with a plough machine because we have new infrastructure in place.”

The nbn crews have had many inquisitive cows that needed to be kept away from the action as fences were cut through.

“There’s a lot of open farmland and farmers have put their own irrigation systems in which are obviously not on Dial Before You Dig (register) so we…risk of ploughing through those.

“So we will also need the right crews there to be able to repair those assets if something happens.”

An excavator was on hand to gouge out rocks beneath the surface when they are encountered before trench digging can then continue, along with a 35-tonne rolling machine to compact the trench once the fibre has been laid in the ground.

Senior field supervisor at nbn, Charlie Bailey, spent the last nine years of his 23 year career with Telstra “on the plough”, and was recently at Leongatha lending a hand.

“Just as you are seeing here (Leongatha), you can have rocks that are sometimes so big you have to get rock-saws in to cut them and break them apart.

“In the worst case scenarios in the past, we’ve even used dynamite.”